Remembering Kettering's pioneer producer as new book reveals town's Whitesnake and Queen connections

New book Back Street Genius details the Kettering and Corby music scene from Skiffle to Rock 'n' Roll

Friday, 10th July 2020, 8:26 am

Music lovers are being urged to reserve a copy of a new limited edition book chronicling the life and times of legendary music producer, drummer and TV repair man, Derek Tompkins.

Back Street Genius (Part One) tells the story of Derek's time in Kettering where he ran Shield Studios from his Regent Street shop and the acts and artistes that stood in front of his microphones, including young aspiring musicians Queen bass hero John Deacon, Whitesnake guitarist Bernie Marsden and three-time Grammy Award-winning producer David Foster.

The book, co-authored by Derek's widow Mavis, who lives in Broughton, Kettering-based musician Dave Clemo and Ringstead resident Roger Kinsey, documents the history of the vibrant Kettering music scene and Mr Tompkins' part in it.

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Roger said: "You could say the seed was sown way back in time for this definitive book, Back Street Genius (Part One), all about Kettering’s genius of sound recording Derek Tompkins.

"Derek originally started recording local musicians, who had formed groups from the early days of Skiffle which of course led onto Rock ’n’ Roll groups and all variations onwards.

"His first basic recording studio was started in the mid 60s in his Regent Street Hi-Fi TV sales and repair shop as well as using the Windmill Club on Sundays.

"His skills at producing the sounds local groups wanted recorded were soon recognised by many musicians outside of Kettering and they were beating a path to his door."

Derek Tompkins in his studio

In 2013, Roger read Derek's obituary, and after he discovered that he had not written an autobiography, he contacted Mavis Tompkins.

Knowing that Derek had recorded many famous musicians and groups at his recording studio, he was determined to chronicle his life.

In 2018, they arranged a meeting choosing a party held by musician Dave Clemo for his book launch for his own memoires.

Roger said: "This meeting finally set the wheels in motion to research and write the definitive biography about Derek and his unique talents when recording sounds.

Dave Clemo, Mavis Tompkins and Roger Kinsey

"Part One covers his time in Kettering up to 1969, detailing meticulously the time when Derek set up his first electrical shop in Regent Street, becoming a drummer and creating one of the best known local groups in Kettering during the 60s, Barry Hart and the Q Men.

"It also covers his recording of local groups, as well as some musicians who discovered Derek with his talent of recording the sound they wanted to achieve on record."

The 256-page book contains information gleaned from Mavis Tompkins' detailed diaries of gigs and concerts and photos from the era, all compiled by the trio.

Roger said: "The most exciting thing for me as a music fan was discovering that the iconic Bernie Marsden [Whitesnake guitarist] recorded with Derek. We have a Whitesnake - Kettering connection.

"Grammy Award winning David Foster started his recording career in Kettering. Derek and Mavis went to the States to visit him and they went to an awards do.

"When he went up to collect the award, David asked the spotlight to be turned on to Derek, and he said 'I owe everything to this man you see here tonight'."

The authors will now start on compiling Part Two of the book to cover the studio's move in 1969 to bigger premises in Wellingborough founding Beck Studios in Gisburne Road, where Northampton Goth pioneers Bauhaus recorded an album.

Roger, who remembers meeting Derek in the early 70s when managing Cambridgeshire band Elder Kindred, said: "We booked three sessions at Beck Studios Wellingborough and my lasting memory of Derek was his genial personality along with his persistence of ensuring the group recorded the best sound possible.

"This book is a real walk through the music scene of the 1950s and 1960s that was happening across the UK. It's really a social history reflecting the Britain of that era."

Back Street Genius can be pre-ordered at the reduced price of £10 by clicking here. The first lucky customers will receive a signed copy.

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