We Rock The World
Dates 1976 to Present
Feeler: 1977 to 1979
Monolith: 1979 to 1984
Studio + Guest Guitarest 1993 to 2006
Epouranios: 2006 to 2014
HighStakes: 2014 to Present
Newspaper Article from the Chertsey Herald 1980 WEMRobert Young & Denny Laine
Hidden away behind a small shop front in Guildford Street , Chertsey , is a warren of workshops for the guitar makers Watkins.
Shiny guitars stand in the shop window flanked by black speakers and amplifiers. These are the end products of Watkins's expertise.
But unknown to most passers by, these much-covetted musical instruments and accessories are made in a busy factory through a door at the back of the shop at No.57.
The work areas are so spread out that some of them can only be reached by a footbridge over a stream running under Guildford Street and beside the shop.
The boss, Sid Watkins, is no desk-bound executive. He is fully involved in the craft of making hand-made electric guitars.
Sid is one of three brothers who decided to make their living out of the electric music business.
Sid's elder brother Reg started the firm in an old coach house in Gogmore Lane Chertsey 18 years ago.
To begin with, he and his brothers Sid and Charlie built cabinets for speakers and amplifiers.
But it was the beginning of the electric music boom and the Watkins brothers were determined to make the most of it.
Four years later and they were selling their own guitar as well – the Watkins Rapier. In 1963 the firm moved to its present home and four years later,
because so many people were coming in off the street asking to buy things, they opened a shop.
Nowadays nearly every Watkins guitar is snapped up as soon as it is finished. It is a precision piece and costs about £165.
“We don't just push them out,” said Sid. “If someone wants a hand-made Mercury they have to come to me. You can't buy them in the shops.”
But guitar making is only one half of the Guildford Street operation. The seven-strong staff also turn out cabinets for speakers and amplifiers.
The cabinets are then taken up to London where brother Charlie transforms them into powerful amplification systems,
sold under the brand name WEM. The firm used to make acoustic guitars as well but the Watkins brothers decided that the electric side was more lucrative.
There are only six of us in the country who make electric guitars,” Sid said, “but the trouble is that we are competing with the American stuff – that's what the professionals use.”
And where the big firms make the fretwork for guitar by machine, Sid does his by hand. Although Sid does not play the guitar himself,
he does have one member of staff who is a budding musician.
Robert Young of Hawthorne Way , New Haw, is a guitarist with a group called ‘Feeler' and when he's not writing music or practicing his fingerwork,
he's busy in the Watkins workshops.
After giving a guided tour of the workshops, Sid was determined to give a demonstration of how one of his brother's sound systems worked.
Upstairs in a room specifically set up for sound quality tests Sid twiddled a few switches and ‘The Sultans of Swing' by Dire Straits pounded out through 140 watts of a
Sid remembered the days when the late Keith Moon of The Who used to live in Chertsey and popped into the shop.
“He once came in and bought three 250 watt systems. I thought it was for the band but he put them in his house.” Sid said.
Sid stood back, proud of the perfect reproduction of Dire Straits and said:
“I reckon if all the sound systems we have ever made were turned on full at the same time, we'd deafen the whole world
Monolith; is a rock band based in Woking Surrey ,formed in 1979 by Robert Young, Martin Wells and Malcolm Randal .
Robert on guitar keyboards and Vocals, Martin on Bass guitar and vocals, Malcolm on Drums, They were a Heavy rock band that really rocked,
they played all around the country and found a great audience in Aldershot with the Parashoot regiment and sent music to the Falklands,
when our lads were fighting there.They had an amazing sound and Robert Writing skills were getting better,
Robert was approached by managers wanting him to go solo, but he refused as he wanted to be loyal to his friends and band,
He said it was a mistake but i was young and had seen many bands just fall apart, still to late now.
The band did break up eventually , Malcolm had a family ,feeling he neglected them ,as we were on the road more,
Martin upset to many people chasing girls all the time and not turning up for rehearsals.
our friend and Roadie Jerry Corbett has the bands name tattooed on his arm. and was a great friend to the band. there was so much potential with the band ,
but music is music ,
Solo and Studio Time
After a long time suffering family problems and living in scotland , Robert started writing again and working with old friends on there music , it was a hard time
but also very productive song writing ,not just heavy rock but Ambient and Christian music too.
In 2006 Robert met Diane Van Der Spuy from South Africa , a country Robert had been to a number of times. they got married and had a daughter Elizabeth.
Diane got Robert to start playing in churches and introduced him to Micheal W Smiths music. Robert said "I started to feel alive again and music was just poring out of me".
We took the family to different churches and Started Epouranios , The Band was Robert,Sean,Gary,Nigel,Malcolm.
Robert on Guitar,Sean on Vocals,Gary on Drums,Nigel on Keyboards and Malcolm on Bass.
But troubles started when Sean couldn't sing the songs and Malcolm struggled with bass lines and didn’t like losing Sean.
Robert went back on lead vocals and they got Derek Oakley on Bass. again the sound was great , But Nigel and Gary feel out . so we went on as a three piece band.
We some gigs all going down well ,But Gary and Derek feel out, so we then got Sean a Bass Player from Portsmouth and Rick on Guitar. again sounding great.
Sean decided he didn't like songs with the words God or Lord in it ( well i mean he joined a christian rock band ,
what do you expect) so he left a week before a major gig.so
an old friend stood in for him, we also had a new backing singer and lead singer on some songs Helen .
after that gig it all feel apart again as Gary had promised gigs abroad but it never happened, Robert was starting to feel extremity bad as Diabetes had taken its tole on him,
he was shaking a lot and couldn't talk very well , he was retired from his job on ill health and was suffering a brake down.
everything was going wrong and it was the people around him that just couldn't get on with each other.
Robert re-formed Epouranios with Derek Oakley and Richard Eastling on Drums, But Derek couldn't get on with Richard and left,
We then got Adam ion Bass and Luke on Guitar, I wrote Broken Chains for them and paid for the video, Adam is a great bass player ,but wanted to be an Actor,
so we got Chris in to play bass, But Again Rehearsing and there insistence my wife took no part in the band ,plus they didn’t want my daughter at rehearsal
(we only took her once) was the end for Robert, they did one more gig that as Robert said “i could not be bothered with them ,
i felt sick that id done so much for them and they had no appreciation for it” and the pain in Roberts legs due to diabetes and the lump in his neck the size of a nectarines.
Was the final strew He sacked the band wished them well and started again, He had the lump removed from his neck, all though he has lost some feeling in his face ,
it hasn’t affected his voice.He finished the third studio album at this time (Armor of Rock)
it was time to change and look at performing Again,He won the PGMA Award for Christian Rock
Robert and Diane decided to rename the band HighStakes so they could move further into the Rock Robert Loved
, Not forgetting the old song though. Robert reunited with Derek Oakley on bass and keyboards with the studio songs they could play live any where.
It again was looking good . With Diane on backing vocals it all seemed well,but again more set backs ,
Robert was rushed in to hospital with a suspected heart attache but it was a virus around his heart that caused the same affect.
Derek had to have a pacemaker fitted and then had to give up as his heart was none to good.
HighStakes is now in the middle of there forth album and Robert and Diane have carried on doing festivals Pubs and Schools and God willing finish the Forth Rock album.
Robert was also nominated for three awards in 2015 at the IMEA Awards new Orleans America
They have also produced an Ambient Album for release in July 2016.
Robert said” its very hard being a musician ,
sometime the people around you do not progress they only think of them selves you do not attack people over there music you try to create the best from it,
working with each other. There will be dominance its a marriage of minds , but work together,
many of the best bands in the world didn’t get on but they worked for the good of the band. “
So here we go again!
We have now been nominated for Rock Artist of the Year at the IMEA Awards 2016 USA
And have the longest running chart singel @ 24 weeks in uk chart history on N1M.com Ambient music film/tv
My great thanks to Keith Smart / Renton who we played together at the very start . A great guitarist,
Alan, Keith & Robert 1978 Rehersal in chertsey Surrey . The Beginning|