Kettering record producer Derek Tompkins honoured with blue plaque

The plaque has been unveiled outside 13 Regent Street, Kettering, now Val Tierney's upholstery shop

Friday, 3rd September 2021, 9:54 am

A record producer who helped launch the careers of superstar musicians has been 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 a book published in 2020 about Derek's first studio - Back Street Genius - have been used to fund the plaque, after a campaign backed by Kettering author and musician Dave Clemo.

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Mavis Tompkins with the Mayor of Kettering Cllr Scott Edwards and guests outside the shop in Regent Street where Derek Tompkins opened his shop

Unveiling the thirteenth in the Blue Plaque Heritage Trail were Derek's widow Mavis, who lives in Broughton, and mayor of Kettering Cllr Scott Edwards who were joined by a crowd of well-wishers and friends.

The blue plaques offer a visual reminder of Kettering’s history and Cllr Edwards paid tribute to Mr Tompkins' contribution to Kettering's heritage.

He said: "I think it is great. It's important to remember and mark the contribution of people in Kettering. Nowadays, people walking past can easily look at a name on a blue plaque and Google to see all the person has achieved."

Dave Clemo co-authored two books - Back Street Genius and C-come and 'Ave a Listen - that paid tribute to Derek and also paid for the plaque backed by the Kettering Civic Society.

l-r Mayor of Kettering Cllr Scott Edwards, Mavis Tompkins and Dave Clemo

Dave said: "I'm very happy that this has come together. This is a good full stop to Derek's story."

Guests gathered outside 13 Regent Street, now Val Tierney's upholstery shop, where Derek and Mavis once lived and worked.

Derek 's widow thanked the crowd for coming to the unveiling and remembered her co-authors Mr Clemo and Roger Kinsey who died last year.

She said: "My sincere thanks to Dave Clemo. My heartfelt thanks to Roger Kinsey and wife Chris. I have so much gratitude to the musicians who played a bit part. Thanks to everyone."

Paul Ansell (chairman of Kettering Civic Society) welcomes the crowd

Paul Ansell, chairman of Kettering Civic Society, said: "We are very, very pleased to support the blue plaque. This plaque is unique in Kettering - it's not for engineering or anything else we've had before. It's nice for Mavis that she can witness it."

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-1960s in his Regent Street Hi-Fi TV sales and repair shop.

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.

The plaque
l-r Mayor of Kettering Cllr Scott Edwards and Mavis Tompkins unveil the plaque above Val Tierney's shop