In this series over the extended Christmas holiday, we are featuring 5 interviews from our growing archive of interviews, all of which you can find on our Interviews page.
In this interview from 2013, Russ Hughes sat down and talked to the founder of Focusrite Phil Dudderidge and talked about everything from his work as sound man for Led Zep to Olympic canoeing. Please forgive the audio quality on this interview.
Phil started in the industry when in 1967 he met Osiris Visions owner and record producer/band manager Joe Boyd and ended up working as a roadie/chauffeur for Fairport Convention and the Incredible String Band. Dudderidge later worked with Pete Brown and The Battered Ornaments and Soft Machine.
In 1970, Charlie Watkins (of WEM PA fame) introduced Phil to Led Zeppelin, beginning not only Phil's first live sound engineer assignment but also the notable position of Led Zeppelin's first dedicated live sound engineer (and "WEM expert"). This job lasted from March to May 1970, encompassing tour dates in both Europe and the U.S.
While house engineer for the Implosion concerts at the Roundhouse in London, Phil worked with Hiwatt to develop professional sound reinforcement systems. He then partnered with Paul Dobson and Graham Blyth to form his first company, RSD, building custom PA systems for Roy Wood's Wizzard and Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel amongst others, with custom-built mixing consoles derived from a Bill Kelsey original design. During the '70s, Graham and Phil with Roger Lindsay, owned Europa Concert Systems, a live sound company that catered to American bands touring Europe.
In 1973, Phil and Graham left RSD to form Soundcraft Electronics, Ltd. Phil's involvement with this company also led to his working with notable pro audio industry figures Betty Bennett (now CEO of Apogee Electronics Corporation), Wayne Freeman (of Trident USA, Fairlight, Amek, Otari, and most notably Marshall Electronics), and Shane Morris (designer of the ATI Paragon monitor console and later of PRS Guitars). He believes that the last show he mixed was in 1979 - Ry Cooder at The Odeon (now Apollo), Hammersmith.
In 1988, Soundcraft, firmly established as a leading console brand, was sold to Harman International Industries.
Phil left Soundcraft in early 1989 and formed a new company, Focusrite Audio Engineering Ltd. to continue to develop and manufacture Focusrite products after it acquired the assets of Rupert Neve's company, Focusrite Ltd., thus inheriting the Focusrite range designed prior to 1989. Focusrite acquired the assets of Novation Electronic Music Systems in 2004 and the Novation brand became integrated into the business. Focusrite has been the recipient of many industry awards and most notably three Queen’s Awards for Enterprise, two for International Trade and one for Technology.
Focusrite Plc. which incorporates Focusrite Audio Engineering Ltd and subsidiaries, floated on the London AIM market in December 2014. Phil is currently Executive Chairman of Focusrite Plc.
His current goal is to continue to lead Focusrite Novation forward into the future, continuing the growth trajectory they have enjoyed for the past five years.