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Elton John World News: A Knight and a Knight

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Drummer's Charitable Endeavour is Aided by Big Names

Thursday 13 August 2009 @ 16:07 - GMT

Drummers are a dedicated lot spending countless hours perfecting their rudiments and learning how to do stick twirls. Few though, have the commitment of Phil Knight, who has broken the world record for the longest drum marathon and he did it playing a Roland V-Drums TD-20K. Phil played the drums for five days straight and slept only around two-and-a-half hours throughout, all in the name of charity.

He spoke with Roland about the event, including gaining support from Elton and other well-placed individuals.

Can you tell us about your record-breaking drumming at Leicester Square?

I wanted to parallel the victims of the people I have worked with and heard about through the Helen Bamber Foundation. These people have been tied up in rooms and left there for months, and women who have been promised work in England but forced to work as prostitutes. I wanted to turn something I loved into a bit of a hell! 

I had come across the world record, which was 102 hours and 49 minutes, and I went through the rules and thought, This is perfect. So it turned into Drum For Life. I wanted to go for Leicester Square as I thought there was no point in doing this just in my bedroom. So I contacted a friend at Leicester Square and between them and the foundation and Roland it all started to happen. 

It made a big difference that everyone was so helpful and positive from the start. We hope to write a book on all this. I think the biggest thing I learnt that was over the five days, thousands of people went past and watched, and we only had one incident, where two young lads came up and heckled a bit; they got shooed away by the bouncers across the road at a club. Also, the restaurant across the road gave me free steaks, so all in all I think that London and the UK has proved itself to be an amazing place.

How much did you raise for charity? And why this charity specifically?

On my page I have raised about £3K. The Helen Bamber Foundation is still receiving donations, which is amazing. Im so happy that the foundation is getting the promotion it deserves. A few years ago when I started session drumming, I went to a gig and played at a hotel. When I finished and was packing the kit into my car, a waiter came out and said that Miss Thompson wanted to have a drink with me. So I walked back in and I saw Emma Thompson, the actress, sitting there with a few people. She basically told me about the foundation.


What other drumming are you doing right now?

Im drumming for two acts. One is a guy called Desi Valentine and the other is Christina Novelli. Both doing really well; so glad to be involved. I still do a bit of teaching and normal session work.

You achieved the record playing on a Roland TD-20 kit. Had you played one before?

Yeah. About four years ago when I started, one of the first purchases was a Roland kit, as I knew it would be nice and quiet to practise with at home using the headphones. Then I bought an SPD-S pad when I started session drumming. Ive always used Roland, and to use the TD-20K and all the speakers was an absolute dream. I couldnt believe how well it held out over five days of non-stop use.

Were you playing drum beats, or along to songs? Any songs better than others for keeping you focused? 

I played along to about 1,800 songs on my Mac! I had music donated to me by artists such as Elton John, Craig David and the Bedingfields. It was such great stuff to play; I wanted to stay away from the drummy stuff, as it would have killed me! So the melodies in Eltons music just made me sing along which was also a great help. At the end, my dad came up to work my Mac as I was too gone; he put on a few Bon Jovi songs, and I really got into it. 

One of the last songs I played was Im Still Standing by Elton John. I had planned from the beginning to save that till the end and I knew when I heard that I was nearly there. Hearing the crowd shout out the lyrics was amazingThats when I got all my family and friends on the stage with me and started throwing my sticks out into the crowd, which felt wicked as I had people fighting to grab my sticks. 

What kind of reaction did you get from the public? Any weird moments?!

A guy came over and gave my dad the cross around his neck, and said, I think he needs it more than me.. Also two people stayed with me late one night for five hours just keeping me entertained and making me laugh doing silly dancing. It was just incredible the reaction I got. A few times people came up to my dad who was with me and said, you have to stop this, its torture. But that was kind of the point I wanted to prove! One night a girl called Steph Chaplin, who deserves a special mention, turned up at 11 p.m. and said she couldnt sleep so she just handed out loads of flyers all night. It was so inspiring!

Are you planning anything else in the future?

Not right now, but Im already thinking maybe I could be the first drummer to go to the North Pole!
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