Chris Whitten

Part of the following line-ups • Backing band 1989-1990
Mar 26, 1959

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From Wikipedia:

Chris Whitten (born 26 March 1959) is a British session drummer who provided drums for the hit singles “What I Am” by Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, “World Shut your Mouth” by Julian Cope and “The Whole of the Moon” by The Waterboys. Two critically acclaimed projects that Whitten was the drummer for were Paul McCartney’s Flowers In The Dirt album in 1989, and Dire Straits final world tour from 1991-1992 to accompany their last studio album, On Every Street. He also played drums on some tracks of the album Titanic (1982) by the Italian songwriter Francesco De Gregori.

Whitten unusually has used a Noble & Cooley drum kit which are radically designed drums. The toms and snare are single-ply, steam-bent shells which give them (especially the snare) a distinctive sound. He has also recorded with such varied musicians as Tom Jones, Johnny Cash, The Pretenders, Swing Out Sister, ABC and The The.

Whitten has been an active participant and Honorary VIP Member of the Drummer Cafe community forum since 2003.

It was 5am and there was a message on my answerphone asking me to contact Paul McCartney’s office. I was so excited I couldn’t sleep until office hours began and I could ring back!

Chris Whitten, Club Sandwich N°52

MPL had heard of Chris through Simon Boswell and Jeremy Jones, husband of MPL’s Shelagh: hence the Sam message. Rehearsals at Woolwich followed.

They flashed by, I was in such a nervous state. I was called up again soon after, with people like Mick Green and Nicky Hopkins, who was a big hero from his work with the Steve Miller Band. (My brother is seven years older than me and got me into the Beatles and Hendrix as well.) Then Richard Ogden phoned to say they were going to record the oldies and I was wanted.

Those sessions were a new thing for me and fairly hectic. It was all nervous energy again; I was on the edge of my stool trying to keep up. After the first session, I decided to try and enjoy it, in case I never worked with Paul again.

Urgent messages from MPL during his last tour with Julian Cope (America, summer ’87) showed that the Whitten approach had worked. Would he be back in time for the ‘Once Upon A Long Ago’ video and the promotional appearances for All The Best? He certainly would. In January came the invitation to do an LP with Hamish Stuart and Paul.

The Elvis Costello sessions were the first major ones I did. I just kept quiet if Paul and Elvis disagreed and some good stuff came out of it. The Trevor Horn/ Steve Lipson sessions were the way I was used to working. They wanted to use a drum machine, but Paul insisted on using me, so I had to live up to that.

Hamish was a very good choice. The Average White Band’s white album with ‘Pick Up The Pieces’ was a very big influence on me at school. I like everyone involved: everyone has something to contribute. Paul Wickens (Wix) has been seriously involved only in the last month or so, though he was on a new version of ‘Figure of Eight’ produced by Chris Hughes and Ross Cullum. Robbie suggested Wix — I’d worked with him on the Hipsway sessions.” […]

How did Chris feel about playing synth drums on ‘How Many People’?

I used to play quite a lot of synth drums on sessions. We used them as it was a reggae track.

The singing drummer is a rare breed, but the Whitten voice is heard on Flowers In The Dirt.

I did a lot of vocals with Julian Cope, as the others didn’t sing. Paul cajoled me into it – I was nervous. I’m in the ‘choir’ on ‘Don’t Be Careless Love’ with Paul, Elvis and Hamish and very much in the background on ‘How Many People’ with Paul, Linda and Trevor Horn.

From Club Sandwich N°52

From Chris Whitten (@chriswhittenmusic) • Instagram photos and videos:

Here by popular demand… Here’s how from my understanding it all came about. Late 80’s Paul hired a new manager. Career somewhat in the doldrums, poor critic reviews etc, the manager suggests Paul revamps with a song writing partnership with Elvis Costello, a new young band, a new more edgy album and a world tour, his first for around ten years.

With the song writing in progress, how to find new musicians? Paul suggested Friday afternoon jams rather than strict auditions. I think Paul thought it would be fun to play his favourite songs from the 50’s, rather than auditioning people with his own material.

So I ended up being invited to one of these ‘jams’. We blasted through songs by Little Richard, Fats Domino etc. Through this process Paul began to feel he had found a core of musicians. Also he so enjoyed the jams he wanted to document them. So two different line-ups were invited to attend Paul’s studio on consecutive days in July 1987. We recorded the songs live, no rehearsal, no second takes.

In the end, going into Autumn of that year I was the only musician Paul decided to pursue. Hamish Stuart was personally invited to join Paul, Linda and me for the Flowers In The Dirt sessions.

From Chris Whitten (@chriswhittenmusic) • Instagram photos and videos
From Chris Whitten (@chriswhittenmusic) • Instagram photos and videos – Limited edition of 50.
chobabcccp #paulmccartney #rocknroll

Last updated on June 26, 2022

Songs written or co-written by Chris Whitten

Party Party

Officially appears on Party Party


Officially appears on Tripping The Live Fantastic


"CHOBA Á CCCP" session #1

Jul 20, 1987 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Choba B CCCP

Albums, EPs & singles which Chris Whitten contributed to

Once Upon a Long Ago #4

By Paul McCartney • CD Single

Contribution: Drums • 1 songs

Once Upon a Long Ago #2

By Paul McCartney • 12" Single

Contribution: Drums • 1 songs

Once Upon a Long Ago #3

By Paul McCartney • 12" Single

Contribution: Drums • 2 songs

Water from the Wells of Home

By Johnny Cash • Official album

Contribution: Drums • 1 songs

Choba B CCCP

By Paul McCartney • Official album

Contribution: Drums • 8 songs

Flowers In The Dirt

By Paul McCartney • Official album

Contribution: Backing vocals, Cymbals, Drums, Drums synth, Handclaps, Percussion, Tambourine, Tom-toms • 7 songs

Figure of Eight

By Paul McCartney • CD Single

Contribution: Drums, Handclaps • 1 songs

This One

By Paul McCartney • CD Single

Contribution: Drum samples, Drums, Percussion • 3 songs

My Brave Face

By Paul McCartney • CD Single

Contribution: Backing vocals, Drums • 3 songs

Concerts, TV & radio shows

San Remo Festival

Feb 27, 1988 • Italy • San Remo • Ariston Theatre


Nov 20, 1987 • United Kingdom • London • TV show

Top Of The Pops

Dec 03, 1987 • United Kingdom • London • BBC Television Centre • TV show

Going live!

Dec 12, 1987 • United Kingdom • London • BBC Television Centre • TV show

Wetten dass..?

Dec 20, 1987 • Germany • Ludwigshafen • Friedrich-Ebert-Halle • TV show

The Roxy

Nov 24, 1987 • United Kingdom • Newcastle • Tyne Tees Newcastle Studios • TV show

Yoru No Hit Studio

Nov 18, 1987 • United Kingdom • London • Ewarts TV Studio • TV show


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