‘The Little Drummer Boy’ from Bembridge Doug Watson
Ryde’s Doug Watson has been playing the drums for 59 years and is still as enthusiastic as he was when he first played in the Homing Birds skiffle group.
It began as a hobby, but in 1969 it became his career and since then he’s appeared on New Faces, when Island band Kite reached the televised final; played on the QE2 with the Alan Dale Trio; toured South America with The Silver Band, who had a record in the Venezuelan pop charts, fronted his own band at Warner’s, Bembridge, for 13 years and has been a regular in both Blue Moon and New Moon.
Many will also remember him as a member of the jazz trio, fronting the Dougie Watson Soul Scene and as a DJ, all at the Medway Queen, Binfield. Later he was in the resident bands at the Ponda Rosa, Ashey.
As a teenager he was playing in local groups but he also watched the visiting cabaret acts at Warner’s, Bembridge. Little did he expect many years later to back some star names at the same venue, including Russ Conway, Tom O’Connor, Shane Richie, Craig Douglas and Peters and Lee.
“I never ever wanted to do anything but play the drums, it became a way of life. My parents had a chalet at the bottom of our garden and I practiced in there before school, after school and in the evenings,” said Doug, who was also keen to reveal a story about Bob Dylan’s backing group, The Band, who stayed at Bembridge during the 1969 IW Festival.
He said: “A piano tuner told me he knew where The Band were staying but he would only give me a clue. He told me they were staying near where I used to live. I found a big barn in Bembridge, looked through the window and saw their instruments all set up. The next day I took my vinyl LP of The Band to get it signed.”
The boys willingly signed the album and asked Doug if he had anything to do with Fiery Creations, the show promoters. When he told them he hadn’t, they advised him not to stay around as he might be in trouble. He also asked if Mr Dylan was around but was told not for a few days.
In 2012 Doug sold the signed album through Bonhams of London; it cost less that £2 in the 60s, but Bonhams paid him £400.
Doug particularly enjoyed twice winning New Faces with Kite, in 1977, and their subsequent records and tours. In the Gala Final they were the top band of the contest. I surprised them one day on my IW Radio chat show by bringing in one of the judges who praised them up on New Faces – Shaw Taylor. It was a happy reunion.
At the New Moon gigs Doug always proves a hit with his great vocals on their rock ‘n’ roll numbers. Thankfully, he has no plans to retire, even though it’s now a long time since he was ‘ The Little Drummer Boy’ from Bembridge.