Tribute to drummer and Needingworth festival organiser Mick Carpenter

Mick Carpenter plays the drums

Mick Carpenter behind his drums - Credit: Family

Needingworth Music Festival's lead organiser Mick "Chippy" Carpenter - whose 1960's band turned down a pre-fame Rod Stewart as singer - has died at the age of 79.

Drummer Mick was a member of The Muleskinners who played alongside the Rolling Stones and The Who and who also backed touring US blues stars like Howlin' Wolf and Sonny Boy Williamson.

Mick, who had been playing drums since he was a teenager and had taken lessons with amplification pioneer Jim Marshall, was best-known locally for his work with the popular band Split Whiskers. 

His final gig after developing Parkinsons was at the Needingworth festival's 25th anniversary last August.

Mick had an early ear for rhythm, tapping on the kitchen table, until he bought his first kit at the age of 16 and had lessons with Jim Marshall.

His early gigs took him little further than Norwood Green Village Fete, but he was soon playing with The Muleskinners, a rhythm and blues combo formed with Dave Pether and others from Twickenham Art College.

The band included keyboard player Ian McLagan who went on to fame with the Small Faces and the Faces with Rod Stewart on vocals. Stewart had earlier tried to join The Muleskinners as singer but had been turned down by the band!

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The Muleskinners released an EP on the Fontana label, a cover of "Backdoor Man" with Mick's precision drumming evident throughout.  

Mick also played with The Valkeries who reached the final of Melody Maker's National Beat Contest at the London Palladium in 1966.

Work brought him Houghton in the 1970s with his first wife Pat where they had two children Rachel and Elena.

He developed a passion for bowls, joining his local club and winning the national and county pairs championship in 1987.

Mick, an engineer and founder-managing director of Harley Engineering at Sawtry, continued to play with the band After Eight and as house drummer at The Boat Race where he met a host of talented musicians with whom he launched Jump, Bump and Boogie. Split Whiskers followed on and toured Ireland and Denmark in the 1990s.

He moved to Needingworth with second wife Kate and got involved with the village music festival, taking a lead part in the event which became hugely popular.