Kettering blue plaque honour for record producer and pop pioneer Derek Tompkins

The legendary producer went on to have successes with Bauhaus and the Barron Knights

Friday, 27th August 2021, 6:30 am

A record producer who helped launch the careers of superstar musicians will be honoured with a blue plaque outside the building where he started his business in Kettering.

Derek Tompkins, a drummer and TV repair man turned legendary music producer, ran Shield Studios from his Regent Street shop, recording aspiring musicians including Queen bass hero John Deacon, Whitesnake guitarist Bernie Marsden and three-time Grammy Award-winning producer David Foster.

The proceeds from the book about Derek's first studio - Back Street Genius - published in 2020 have been used to fund the plaque, after a campaign backed by co-author Dave Clemo and the late Roger Kinsey.

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Dave Clemo with the plaque

Present at the unveiling will be Derek's widow Mavis, who lives in Broughton, as well as Kettering-based Mr Clemo, fans, and the mayor of Kettering Cllr Scott Edwards, who will be officially revealing the plaque backed by the Kettering Civic Society.

Dave said: "We see the unveiling of the plaque as the third part of the Derek Tompkins story. The first two parts are the books - Back Street Genius and C-come and 'Ave a Listen.

"The idea for the plaque was a 'what if?' moment at one of our meetings. We contacted the Civic Society who were very helpful and gave us an approximate cost for the plaque to be cast. We resolved to put any profits from the book sales towards the cost of the plaque which will serve as a permanent memorial to Kettering's 'Back Street Genius'."

Guests will gather on Thursday, September 2, at 2pm at the site of the Derek's first recording studio at 13 Regent Street, now Val Tierney's upholstery shop, where the couple once lived and worked.

Derek Tompkins was a drummer-turned producer

Monica Ozdemir, secretary of Kettering Civic Society, said: "The blue plaque dedicated to Derek Tompkins will be the seventeenth in the Blue Plaque Heritage Trail which offers a visual reminder of Kettering’s rich history.

"The plaques inform of Kettering’s industrial, social, philanthropic and cultural figures who have not only made a contribution to the town but also worldwide. The society is delighted to add Derek Tompkins to the collection and is looking forward to adding many more blue plaques to its Heritage Trail."

After the ceremony well-wishers have been invited to toast Derek's memory at The Shire Horse pub in Newland Street.

Derek originally started recording local musicians, who had formed groups from the early days of Skiffle which led onto Rock ’n’ Roll groups. His first basic recording studio was started in the mid 60s in his Regent Street Hi-Fi TV sales and repair shop.

The Shield Studio in Regent Street, Kettering

His skills at producing the sounds local groups wanted recorded were soon recognised by many musicians outside of Kettering, leading to him moving to a larger premises in Wellingborough - Beck Studio.

Mavis said: "Everyone who knew Derek and/or recorded at his Shield or Beck Studios is very welcome to attend. Please park if you can at Sainsbury's to avoid congestion in Regent Street. See you there."

Derek in Beck Studio, Wellingborough