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The musicians behind the Nursery Rhymes Collection

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Meet the musicians behind the Nursery Rhyme Collection!

Move your mouse over the musicians' pictures, also click to hear more!


Ian Watts and Mike Wilbury met at Liverpool Beatlesweek 2002. Some months later both toured Europe together as part of the Beatles Musical-Show She Loves You. They had already performed hundreds of shows together when they decided to initiate the UK Multimedia Theatre Show Come Together Right Now; celebrating the music of John Lennon and touring in 2004 and 2005. For this show they used the musical talents of keyboardist and arranger
Rick Benbow. Since then Ian, Mike and Rick have continued working and recording together.
Their first contact with children's music was joint production of the Children's Musical A Toy Soldier In Love released in Germany in 2006. The overwhelming comments received encouraged them to go further with their approach of creating songs for children, steering well clear of the typical tacky kids' music elements. We believe children are not silly so why make them listen to silly music? In 2008 Ian and Mike started their most ambitious project to date: 33 musicians were invited to share their individual talents for the definitive and highest quality sounding Nursery Rhyme Collection ever recorded! The different musical background of each individual musician that makes this collection so very special. Find out who was involved and make sure you don't miss the hidden songs!
Rebecca Leivers (left):
Rebecca's voice is rich, soulful and full of beauty and character whilst retaining ‘attitude’ so she was the natural first choice to undertake the main female Lead Vocals. Rebecca (often known as Bead) is the backing singer and bass player with two original Nottingham based bands: The Andy Whittle Band and The Becky Syson Band

Does an album really need two drummers? Yes of course! At least two!
On The Nursery Rhyme Collection you can actually hear 7 different drummers!
However, most of the main drum parts were performed by:


Ian Cunningham (left) and

Gary Holmes (right)


Of course the 5 core musicians on top could have recorded The Nursery Rhyme Collection
totally on their own but the idea was to get as many different musicians involved as possible to ensure many different attitudes and feels. The result is a double album of 70 tracks with the finest music of 4 centuries, performed by top notch
musicians featuring an extraordinary variety of musical styles.

A massive thanks to all those musicians being part of the adventure!

Move your cursor over the pictures to hear the musicians perform at Comfy Towers Recording Studio.
To hear a musicians' part in the context of the actual song just click on the picture in question.

Mat Williams

(both pictures left and right) is a multi-instrumentalist, singer and composer with a strong affection to Irish Folk Music. On Little Liza Jane (right) he performs the Lead Vocals, he also plays the banjo, mandolin, fiddle and the flute! On Hey Diddle Diddle (left) he plays a wonderful fiddle part. Furthermore he contributed some harmonica parts to the album.


Nottingham singer-songwriter Andy Whittle performed vocals on Pop Goes The Weasel and London's Burning. We were honoured to have Andy contribute to the project. To learn more about Andy and to see his tour dates visit


Left: Chris White (the Ray Davies of The Kinx) recorded the lead vocals on both There's A Hole In My Bucket and Old McDonald Had A Farm

Right: Performing live with his band mate Ian Watts.


Brian Hudson gets himself in the mood for recording the vocals on The Owl And The Pussycat. He did a fantastic job on the old favourite and gave a perfect West End style performance.

The London lads of My Mate Kate recorded two very energetic tracks in their typical style for the Nursery Rhyme Collection: What Shall We Do With The Grumpy Pirate and The Big Ship Sailed On The Ally Ally Oh.

Thanks guys and well done!
Ian Watts performed many of the male Lead Vocals, he played most bass parts and many guitar and piano parts, furthermore he played drums & percussion on a few tracks. Ian did most song arrangements (together with Mike Wilbury) and orchestra arrangements (together with Rick Benbow). He supervised and engineered all recordings and is the Executive Producer of the album. Ian has had many music projects and bands and has performed live in some of Europe’s finest concert halls and countless venues. Contrary to his Rock'n'Roll life he is addicted to classical organ music. In his recording studio you can find a wonderful 3 manual pipe organ, hidden behind tons of electric guitars, amplifiers and drums!

Pete Bradbury recording one of his vocal tracks (left). He also wrote Good Night Good Night especially for the album; one of two original songs on the Nursery Rhymes Collection album. Just click on the right picture to hear his lullaby!

Visit Peter and his original band lucca

Celine and Ian
during one of their
rare days off!
Left picture: Mark Sansom (The Kinx) records a wonderful guitar part for Hush Little Baby , using an original 1959 Höfner Club 40 jazz guitar (the same guitar John Lennon used pre-Beatles fame).
Mark Sansom and Jay Leivers play twin Stratocaster guitars for Brahms Lullaby. Two great guitarists performing together for the very first time with outstanding results!
Left picture: Nottingham based guitarist and guitar teacher Jay Leivers, of The Andy Whittle Band.

As well as his guitar duet with Mark Sansom on Brahms Lullaby he recorded a haunting and eerie E-bow guitar for London's Burning.

Right picture: Another great guitarist, Kev Beal recording Gibson Les Paul lead guitar on Ten Green Bottles/Wind The Bobbin Up and The Teddy Bears Picnic.


Steve Farmer recording an up-tempo drum track for Ten Green Bottles/Wind The Bobbin Up.

For many years he has toured with the Pink Floyd tribute band

Think Floyd

Steve Farmer was also a member of the John Lennon Tribute Show Come Together Right Now, (with his band mates Ian Watts, Mike Wilbury, Rick Benbow and Steve Heappey).

Gary Holmes proved to be an invaluable asset as one of the two 'main' drummers for the project. Gary has an incredible knack of finding the right style and performing it perfectly so quickly which made a fun and easy full day of recording. Gary usually plays Ringo Starr with the fantastic Beatles tribute band The Fab 4.
A true professional!

Ian Cunningham, the other 'main' drummer used on The Nursery Rhyme Collection has the great ability to come up with new exciting beats and 'feels'. That was essential to the project just as his cracking sense of humour was; That's Ian laughing heartily at the end of The Muffin Man! Ian Cunningham performs as drummer Mick Avory with the amazing Kinks tribute band The Kinx as well as with his own great band Airbourne and is a collector of drum kits.

Dominic Watts, our Executive Producer, is pleased with the work of his staff and gets ready for his special performance of Baa Baa Black Sheep.

Celine Watts performed many backing vocal parts as well as the speech (and counting!) parts for the album. Celine has a very sweet and friendly voice with a higher register the Rebecca Leivers. Celine also performed a great lead vocal on both Sing A Rainbow and Heads Shoulder Knees And Toes.  

Being married to a musician and studio owner it's just a small step to become a permanent backing singer for all kinds of Ian’s studio projects. Celine performs on stage from time to time with Pete Bradbury's original band

Mike Wilbury played most of the electric and acoustic guitar parts; furthermore he performed backing vocals, sitar, mandolin, bass, drums and percussion. He wrote an original lullaby Star Sky Lullaby (click on left picture) and he also mixed the album.

Right picture: Mike recording one of his acoustic guitar parts in the studio.
Craig Hudson; guitarist and lead vocalist with the Nottingham band Uncle Chunk and The Chimps who perform covers of modern rock classics as well as with Nick and The Numpties with fellow musicians Nick Miller, Ian Watts, Mark Sansom and Ian Cunningham. All of these musicians are also involved in the Nursery Rhyme album! Craig performed a ‘choppy’ guitar part for Polly Put The Kettle On which seemed a fitting choice as his own daughter is called ‘Suki’! (left picture) performed lead vocals on She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain and The Muffin Man. Phil performs live as The Wedding Singer and does a mean Elvis set!

Hear Nottingham musician Steve Lane (below) playing the fantastic lap-steel guitar part for She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain. Steve also played electric guitar on Rock-a-bye Baby
Phil Rostance (left picture) did the lead vocals for She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain and The Muffin Man

Hear Steve Lane (right picture) playing the great lapsteel guitar part for She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain
Nick Miller, a guitar teacher and Nottingham based guitarist and songwriter.

Nick performs live with his original band Nick and the Numpties. We were glad to have Nick on the project performing vocals on Teddy Bears Picnic and backing vocals on Georgie Porgie.

Drummer John Raynor (left), Bassist Graham Wyvill (right) and Guitarist Chris Raynor (below) of Billy Fury's Tornadoes. These guys played live on tour with the one and only Billy Fury!

John Raynor played drums on Ten Nursery Rhymes for the album.
John Raynor recording This Is The House That Jack Built, using a beautiful 12-string Rickenbacker guitar
Dave Needham of The School House Rockers records the Rock-a-Billy styled I'm A Little Teapot on his hot-rodded Gretsch Nashville guitar. Right picture: Dave with Martin Clarke (the brilliant upright bass player) doing their vocal parts, joined by Chris Raynor of Fury’s Tornadoes (middle).
Click on Rick Benbow's picture (right) to hear one of his contributions to the children's favourite Baa Baa Black Sheep. Rick is a ‘genius’ keyboardist and arranger and a welcome addition to the Nursery Rhyme Collection.  

Left picture: Rick Benbow performing live at one of the Come Together multimedia shows with Ian Watts on the big screen lurking over his shoulder!

We don’t remember if Rick used to play Baa Baa black sheep in those days...



Steve Heappey enjoying
his lunch break with
one of his favourite teddy bears!

Steve played drums on
Pop Goes The Weasel.
Right picture:
Another Steve’s favourite toys
(a Ludwig Black Oyster Pearl vintage drum kit) used when performing with his Beatle tribute band band
The Beatalls. The Nursery Rhyme Collection songs were all recorded on a similar 1964 Vintage Ludwig ‘Downbeat’ Drum kit

Picture below: Ian, Mike and Peter Kalff (far right) back in another life as Silver Beatles. The three lads in their dressing room during a European tour in January 2007  

Ian & Mike
harmonising vocals
like they used to do...

Peter Kalff (right picture) is more than just a top notch drummer: For the Nursery Rhyme Collection he played all the beautiful trumpet and horns parts for the album. He currently plays drums for one of the world's finest Whitesnake Tribute Band!

Another big thanks to our special guests:

My Mate Kate (Jack Harris/Ricky Gould/Danny Gould) The School House Rockers (Dave Needham/Martin Clarke/SallyDunnett) Billy Furys's Tornados (John Raynor/Graham Wyvill/Chris Raynor)

Nursery Rhymes_Real Music