The most successful musician you’ve never heard of

The Beatles and Elvis had always struck me as the benchmark in terms of chart success, but it turns out their achievements are dwarfed by a modest working musician from North London called Clem Cattini.

Yesterday evening I was listening to Radio 4’s “Front Row”, and they had a feature about the session drummer who has been recently working with Paul Weller. I was astounded to learn that Clem is one of the world’s most successful musicians and has featured on more UK number ones than any other musician; 44 at the last count, but he’s still working…

I had never heard his name mentioned and yet he has worked with an astounding range of musicians and has featured on records that have loomed large in my life… “Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas, “Ernie” by Benny Hill, “Two Little Boys” by the Mighty Rolf and “Whispering Grass” by Don Estelle and Windor Davies.

OK, these were novelty records that amused me as a child, but they are deeply ingrained and with the slightest prompt they burst unbidden into my consciousness: They obviously still have an impact on my musical sensibilities. He has also worked on bona-fide classics such as “Shakin’ All Over” by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates “Telstar” by The Tornados and T-Rex’s “Get It On” and “Telegram Sam”.

He also had number ones with The Walker Brothers, Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones, Englebert Humperdink, The Three Degrees and Edison Lighthouse.

And if that’s not enough for a claim to fame, he was Jimmy Page’s first choice for drummer for Led Zeppelin!

BTW: If you do happen to have heard of Clem, and I’m late to the party, then I apologise for the hyperbole of the post title.

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