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Recording sound at Sandbanks, Poole, Dorset.
Chas Watkins at mixer, Kingsway Studios, Holborn, London, circa 1983
Chas Watkins at mixer, Kingsway Studios, Holborn, London, circa 1983
Setting up Front of House mix position at Hammersmith Apollo


I got my first guitar at 12 and started learning to play at school by the very enthusiastic music teacher, Bill Carnell. I played in the school orchestra and performed several classical guitar pieces with two other school chums. Eventually, I formed a band with other school chums, Graham and Aldo, playing passable versions of Chuck Berry and Led Zeppelin songs. Except the singer, who was pants. 

During the many beer & cigarette breaks, I used to swap instruments with Graham, the bass player, and eventually, we just swapped instruments permanantly. Legendary local gigs followed, continuing after leaving school.

I started as tea-boy and Assistant Engineer at Kingsway Recorders in Holborn, London, a studio with an amazing pedigree. This was the old De Lane Lea studios, home of hits including Fleetwood Macs’ "Albatross" and Oh Well", Jimi Hendrix,  and The Animals’ "House of the Rising Sun", which was recorded in a couple of hours for 37 shillings and 6 pence (37/-6d), (about £2.50 in new money). Somewhere around there is still the original invoice. (Who has it, I wonder??)

After training with Deep Purple engineer and producer Martin Birch, I engineered and assisted on many recordings including artists such as Adam Faith, Leo Sayer, The Sweet, Squeeze, Whitesnake, Julian Cope, The Butterfly Ball, written & produced by Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover, Eddie Hardin, M (of "Pop Muzik" fame, (actually Robin Scott), lots of reggae for the legendary Trojan label and lots more stuff that I cannot remember. (Well, it was the seventies, man!)


Julian Cope's album "Fried" was recorded at Spaceward Studios in Stretham, near Cambridge. The team who ran the studios eventually evolved into Sadie, the legendary digital workstation. They are still based there. Interesting website, check it out.

I started working with Ian Gillan from Deep Purple and engineered all his records through various band changes, eventually ending up as "Gillan", featuring the legendary guitarist Bernie Torme, bass player John McCoy and drummer Mike Underwood from Quatermass.  I started touring with Gillan as live sound engineer, where I met Cliff, who joined as guitar technician and general skinny geezer. We toured the world and became best buddies and complete drunks. 

Touring and recording continued with many bands, including tour-managing the Climax Blues Band, featuring the legendary Lester Hunt. Chas and Cliff had an excellent time in Thailand and Malaysia. ‘Nuff said.

Through Entec Sound & Light, I was sometime frequent resident sound engineer at the legendary Marquee club in Wardour Street, which launched a myriad rock 'n' roll legends including The Who, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, The Cream, the Sex Pistols, The Small Faces and many more. I mixed the sound for numerous bands, there and at countless Reading festivals. Anyone who remembers the Marquee will know that when the club was crowded and throbbing to capacity, it was impossible to move from the raised mixing position at the back of the club. Therefore, whilst mixing the show, if one had to ……....relieve oneself, one had to have several empty pint glasses to hand!!

Around this time the legendary Split Knee Loons were in their infancy, and I recorded some material which eventually comprised the legendary Loons EP , which is now a collectors classic. I stepped in to play the blistering guitar solo on the now legendary "She was a real Eggtimer". The Loons featured such luminaries as Arthur Guitar, Ernie Orme, Wah! Wah! Wahtkins, Cosmo Toons, Blind Frank Melonhead, and frequent guests, the Hamster Cage Ensemble. The bands’ huge success included a legendary live performance at the Liverpool Empire with simultaneous radio broadcast. Several pieces of the EP in shi*ty brown vinyl exist , which includes a rare live recording of the gig, and are now rare collectors items.

I co-managed Manchester band Virginia Wolf, and after recording some demos prior to signing a record deal with Atlantic Records, decided that the drummer and bass player needed replacing. Queen drummer Roger Taylor was brought in to produce the first album and suggested trying drummer Jason Bonham, son of the legendary Led Zeppelin drummer, John Bonham, and bass player extraordinare, Joe Burt. The two were perfect and the album was recorded at Eel Pie studios London, Munich and Ibiza. Touring the US followed, including a tour with The Firm, featuring legendary guitarist Jimmy Page and ex- Free and Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers. The second album was recorded at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley California, and released to critical acclaim.

Many freelance gigs followed including an excellent two months in Barbados, supervising sound for the Holders Festival. Performances of Tosca, Twelfth Night, Gilbert & Sullivans The Mikado, and a Stephen Sondheim revue by a west end cast and the Wren orchestra.


I am now a Sound Supervisor at QVC The Shopping Channel.

The rest is history. 


N.B. The word "legendary" is used extensively, with permission from the Oxford dictionary.


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