It all started for me when my mother took me to the cinema and I saw the film based on the biography of drummer Gene Krupa. I was 13 years old, and to see and hear the drums full-screen was just amazing. I was in a trance for days. We weren't surrounded by music at that time, there was very little on TV and my father decided when the radio was switched on. And I was just a bit too young to be interested in Rock n' Roll. Which in it,s early years was frowned upon. So here I was bedazzled by the drums and didn't know what to do about it. I eventually got drumsticks and a plastic snare drum and started listening to records with friends trying to understand what was being played. And I must
say from that early age I was listening to Jazz and Pop. My school library had books on the early twenties and thirties Jazz scene in the USA. I was totally fascinated with those old black and white photos and those early drum kits.
I soon felt the need for guidance, for lessons. There was a pipe-band in my home town at that time and it,s where I
got my first lesson.At that age you couldn't wait to get your hands on a marching drum, which were really special but no, they weren't letting you anywhere near a drum till you were ready.So, first lesson 'the sickener' I got stuck in a room with other youngsters and shown the first rudiment, the mammy daddy or mamma papa if you prefer. The roll! RRLL right right left left on a wooden shelve going round the room. One of the band drummers would come in now and again to check on us then send us home. We never got to 'smell' a drum. It was quite simply to see who really wanted to learn. The pipe-band unfortunately disbanded soon after, but they sent me to a brass band to carry on.The snare drum parts were much simpler in the brass band and by following the lead drummer I was able to play with them. I wasn't really doing my best with reading parts but I knew one day I would have to.
I was by now also playing in local bands which was great and I have a lot of fond memories. Then I turned professional! A band from another town asked me to join and they were doing it full-time so.... Convincing my parents
to let me leave home at sixteen years old wasn't easy, but they did and I never went back except on holiday. I stayed with that band for over a year then moved to Glasgow. A real city finally. I was born and raised in Dumfries a town in the South of Scotland. Glasgow was (is) a very vibrant city. It was there I studied with a retired big band drummer and started to get my chart reading together. Although after Glasgow I didn't use it for several years you never forget it. I met and auditioned for a band who were going to play the American bases in Germany. They were all a bit older than me and better musicians, so I could only learn. That was an awesome experience for me, I was playing six nights a week, four sets a night, of good music. We met a lot of American musicians who had been drafted because of the war in Vietnam. It was a great learning curve.
When after a holiday some of the band didn't want to go back to Germany I decided to give London a try. It was there after a serious of events I moved to Paris, yes fantastic it was a time when major cities in Europe still had a very strong national identity. Paris was very French, London was very English etc. They're weren't so Cosmopolitan and I,m very pleased to have seen that. I was playing with a great organ trio in the Latin Quarter and it was special.
The same band plus a guitarist got offered a gig in Japan, and we were off.There were only two foreign bands in Tokyo at that time, an American Soul band and us doing our setlist of English Rock covers.It was an interesting six months we were paid well and if the contract had been longer who knows?
On returning to Europe we went to Italy rather than Paris, the logic being it was Spring and there's probably more summer gigs in Italy. And it was there that I finally put down some roots. I was very fortunate to be there at the beginning of the singer-songwriter period. Live work was having problems, there was a lot of civil unrest and youngsters wanted free entry to concerts. A lot of confusion. On the other hand the Record Industry was flourishing and hence a lot of Studio work was available. I had understood it was something I really wanted to do and I,ve been blessed to work with so many great musicians and artists.
Over the years I've recorded and toured with many Italian Artists, to name a few: Little Tony, Mal,
Nada, Sergio Caputo, Francesco De Gregori, Schola Cantorum,Patty Pravo, Riccardo Cocciante,
Ivan Graziani, Perigeo, Giorgia, Loredana Berte, Amedeo Minghi, Shel Shapiro, Tito Schipa jnr,
Davide Riondino, Riccardo Fogli, Renato Zero, Zucchero Fornaciari, Antonello Venditti.
I also played with the following Artists : Lukas Sideras(Aphrodites Child)
Jon Anderson & Vangelis, Keith Emerson, and some I played with in concert (guests of Zucchero)
Sting, Solomon Burke, Brian May, Paul Young, Jeff Beck.
There have been many unforgettable concerts, Antonello Venditti at Circus Maximus, when the
Roma football team won the League Championship. With Zucchero playing support to the Rolling
Stones on their Bridges to Babylon tour. And also with Zucchero the first concert online Net Aid
from Giants Stadium NY. And many more.
Derek J Wilson. Rome. June 2020