Music entrepreneur who toured with Led Zeppelin is made an OBE

An entrepreneur who began his career as Led Zeppelin’s touring soundman and went on to a lead a global music technology group, has been made an OBE.

Philip Dudderidge, 75, described himself as a “a teenage rebel who went into the music industry” but found touring America in 1970 with the rock legends a physically punishing ordeal.

He is the founder and chairman of Focusrite, a global firm that supplies hardware and software used by professional and amateur musicians and the entertainment industry.

Melody Maker Pop Poll – Led Zeppelin and Sandy Denny – London
Members of Led Zeppelin John Bonham, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, alongside singer-songwriter Sandy Denny following the Melody Maker Pop Poll in London in 1970 (PA)

Mr Dudderidge said about the Led Zeppelin tour: “The music was fabulous of course but the experience of going to the States and doing a tour there, it was really hard work.

“Not only doing the shows but then having to drive between cities – we did 28 cities in a month – so by the end of it I was completely exhausted. I just said ‘I can’t do any more’. We were only a crew of three, these days they’ll have 50.

“Really, what I learned in the States was the direction of travel for live sound amplification – systems needed to get a lot bigger.”

He was reunited with Led Zeppelin’s lead singer Robert Plant recently, decades after the two men worked together.

Philip Dudderidge with Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant (Joanna Dudderidge/PA)
Philip Dudderidge with Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant (Joanna Dudderidge/PA)

Mr Dudderidge also worked as the house engineer for the famous Implosion Club concerts at London’s Roundhouse in the 1970s.

He said: “Elton John played and a band called America did their first gig, but so many bands, more bands then I can even remember.”

He later co-formed a number of music industry businesses before finding further success with Focusrite, and his career was honoured during a Buckingham Palace investiture ceremony hosted by the Princess Royal.

Investitures at Buckingham Palace
Philip Dudderidge is made an OBE by the Princess Royal (Aaron Chown/PA)

The entrepreneur added: “My ambition at the age of 21 was to own the best PA system in the world and work with the best people in the world, and for a number of years we did run a rental system and we toured with lots of different people.

“My last gig was at the then Odeon Hammersmith with Ry Cooder. It was just a one-off gig and I deputised for the usual sound engineer and that was the last show I mixed.

“There’s nothing more artistically satisfying then mixing a live show, and feeling what the audience was hearing. Well, it’s down to the band but it was completely up to you how you represented the band.”