James Bond Trumpeter Derek Watkins Dies at 68

Derek Watkins, the prolific British trumpeter who played on every James Bond soundtrack – from “Dr No” to “Skyfall” – has died after a two year battle with cancer. He was 68.

As a session trumpet player, Watkins earned a reputation as the best in the business. His long list of credits are the proof. During his career, Watkins played with all the big names, including the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Elton John, Tom Jones, Benny Goodman, Oasis, Robbie Williams, Leonard Bernstein, Dizzy Gillespie, Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and Eric Clapton.

Born into a musical family in Reading, England, Watkins learned his instrument at a young age and was a professional by 17. Jazz icon Dizzy Gillespie reportedly referred to Watkins as “Mr Lead,” and composer David Arnold has described the late musician as a “musical genius”.

Watkins is best remembered for his high-note "screamers" on the James Bond soundtracks. But his treasure chest of film credits aren’t limited to 007. His talents accompany the scores to such movies as “Mission Impossible,” “The Mummy,” “Basic Instinct,” “Indiana Jones,” “Gladiator,” “Johnny English,” “Superman 1 & 2,” “Bridget Jones Diary” and “Chicago,” where his trumpet solo opens the Oscar-winning film.

Watkins also developed the Smith-Watkins Instruments business with acoustics expert Richard Smith and was a visiting professor for trumpet to the Royal Academy of Music.

According to statement posted on his official Website, Watkins died at his home in Surrey, England, surrounded by his wife, Wendy, their children and grandchildren.