Dion, a drum and Stevie Wonder

Dion Dublin and brothers with Chesterfield's Nigel O'Connor
Dion Dublin and brothers with Chesterfield's Nigel O'Connor
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IT BEGAN with six pieces of wood, a handful of nails and a footballer’s musical fantasy.

It might just end up as a multi-million pound business.

Ex soccer star Dion Dublin with one of his Dubes

Ex soccer star Dion Dublin with one of his Dubes

Stranger tales have been told than the story of Dion Dublin’s dream, a Sheffield shopfitter, a Chesterfield electrician and Stevie Wonder. But not many.

First the Dube.

Named after a combination of ‘cube’ and ‘Dion’ the Dube is a wooden percussion box with a microphone inside, a built in handle and sides that all make a different sound when hit – details of its construction are a closely-guarded secret.

But today the Dube can be seen on stage with jazz legend Courtney Pine, acclaimed indie band The Maccabees and X-Factor hero Olly Murs.

Ex soccer star Dion Dublin with one of his Dubes along with Scotty O'Connor and Roger Harland

Ex soccer star Dion Dublin with one of his Dubes along with Scotty O'Connor and Roger Harland

Then there’s Stevie Wonder, but more of him later.

Former England striker Dion had been working on his percussion box for a few years before he met Electrician Nigel O’Connor – Scotty to his friends – from Clowne, Derbyshire who was a guest in the players lounge at Carrow Road after a Norwich City game.

They met again on another night out, got chatting met up with Scotty’s business partner Roger Havenhand and the professional version, The Dube, began to take shape.

“It all began at Norwich,” said 42-year-old Dion on a visit to the workshop at Bedford & Havenhand Shopfitting on Chesterfield’s Sheepbridge industrial estate.

“After training one day I went to Jewsons, bought some wood, hammer and nails and made the first version of the Dube. I had holes in my furniture and blackened finger nails but it wasn’t bad.

“I later had a team-mate’s brother who was a chippy make me one up and there were one or two false starts but it was improving. I got together with Scotty and he introduced me to Roger Havenhand from Sheffield, his business partner. Scotty came back with some drawings and Roger made one up.

“It sounded different but the first real Dube sounded just the way I had imagined it from day one. We had some made up and I started getting people interested and a few musicians really took to it, including my hero Courtney Pine who has two now.”

Now for Stevie Wonder.

“We were told we ought to go to the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Drum Festival in Los Angeles and we were in a Chinese restaurant one night and Stevie Wonder came in.

“My three brothers were out there with us and Ashley is a huge fan of Stevie Wonder and he had to go over and ask for a photograph with him.

“He politely refused and Ashley left it at that. Then after he had finished eating one of his security men came over to chat.

“He apologised and we told him about the Dube and why we were there.

“He went back to the table and told him about us and he came over, held out his hand and said: ‘Hi, I’m Stevie, tell me about your new instrument’.

“We couldn’t believe it. He must have held my hand for around 15 seconds then I told him all about it. He said thank you, shook all our hands and wished us good luck with it.

“As they left the security guy said Stevie was going to the convention and would bring him over to our pitch.

“I teased about Stevie Wonder coming to see an instrument that started in Norwich with a hammer and nails but they brought him over as they said.

“He said hello, felt the Dube with his hands for a few seconds then started playing it like he’d had one all his life.

“He even started singing one of his own songs as we all jammed with him. We figured if it was crap Stevie Wonder wouldn’t be playing one for that long.

“I gave him a Dube there and then and he said it would sound great on his next album.“

“It was absolutely mindblowing.”

After that everything else must seem second best but the thing keeps growing.

So what’s next, world domination?

“Pretty much,” laughs Dion.

“What we would like to do is get the Dube used in schools around the world. I have been to several schools with it and the kids love it. It’s solid and they don’t need to be too careful around it, they’re fairly cheap, great fun, easily stored and carried and they can have a go without knowing music.

“Amazon have taken it and I’m looking for a distributor or two in America and in Europe. I think it can be huge but no matter how big it gets or how many orders we get it will always be made here in Chesterfield.”

The Dube is available in four sizes from £157.45 to £327.66 from www.theDube.com