James Bond trumpet player dies aged 68

Derek Watkins played on the soundtrack for every 007 film from Dr No to Skyfall. Credit: www.derekwatkins.co.uk

Derek Watkins, the British trumpet player who played on every James Bond film soundtrack, has died aged 68, his close friend said today.

The lead trumpet player, who was described by the great Dizzy Gillespie as "Mr Lead", died yesterday at home in Esher, Surrey following a lengthy illness, Philip Biggs, editor of the Brass Herald said.

Watkins was "widely considered to be the foremost British Big Band trumpet player ever to grace the stage", Mr Biggs said.

After turning professional aged 17, he enjoyed a lengthy career in which he played with The Beatles, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Frank Sinatra, the London Symphony Orchestra and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

He also played on the soundtrack for every 007 film from Dr No to Skyfall.

He played with the BBC Big Band and performed for prominent jazz musicians Johnny Dankworth, Maynard Ferguson and Benny Goodman.

Mr Biggs described him as "a people's person - no side, no ego, a fun loving musician who couldn't get enough of life, who loved his family".

He is survived by his wife Wendy and their children, Sean, Ellie and Sarah.

Derek Watkins (left) playing lead trumpet with the BBC Big Band at the Maida Vale Studios, London. Credit: Handout/PA Wire

Watkins was born into a brass band family and taught to play the cornet at the age of four by his father.

He then played in the band his father conducted - the Spring Gardens Brass Band in Reading, of which is grandfather was also conductor and a founder member.

He also played with his father's dance band before turning professional.

The white bikini worn by Ursula Andress in the 1962 James Bond film Dr No during a Christie's sale preview at Stoke Park Club in 2001. Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Read: Visit ITV London for more on Derek Watkins' career.