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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
Last updated on March 20, 2020
Albums, EPs & Singles which Chris Whitten contributed to
Feb 27, 1988 • Italy • San Remo • Ariston Theatre
Nov 20, 1987 • United Kingdom • London • TV show
Dec 03, 1987 • United Kingdom • London • BBC Television Centre • TV show
Dec 12, 1987 • United Kingdom • London • BBC Television Centre • TV show
Dec 20, 1987 • Germany • Ludwigshafen • Friedrich-Ebert-Halle • TV show
Nov 24, 1987 • United Kingdom • Newcastle • Tyne Tees Newcastle Studios • TV show
Nov 18, 1987 • United Kingdom • London • Ewarts TV Studio • TV show