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Tom Robinson

Tom Robinson (born June 1, 1950, in Cambridge) is an English singer/songwriter and broadcaster probably best-known for the UK hit songs "2-4-6-8 Motorway" (1977), "Don't Take No for an Answer" (1978) and "War Baby" (1983)

Career

Robinson was the founding member of the Tom Robinson Band (TRB), an overtly political band with several hits in the 1970s, such as "2-4-6-8 Motorway", "(Sing If You're) Glad To Be Gay", "Power in the Darkness", "Up Against the Wall" and "Don't Take No for an Answer".

While continuing his career as a performer, in 1980 Robinson co-wrote several songs with Elton John. These compositions included John's minor 1980 hit "Sartorial Eloquence (Don't Ya Wanna Play This Game No More?)" which reached #44 in the UK, and #39 in the US.

Later in the 1980s, Robinson fronted and bankrolled Sector 27, a less political rock band which released one album - produced by Steve Lillywhite - and left Robinson virtually bankrupt. He fled to Hamburg to escape his creditors. There, he penned his 1983 hit "War Baby" and recorded his first solo album North By Northwest with producer Richard Mazda. Further income was derived from a cover of his single "Atmospherics (Listen To The Radio)" by Pukka Orchestra in 1984. The Pukkas' version was a top 20 hit in Canada under the title "Listen To The Radio".

Robinson's mid-1980s return to the UK led to late-night performances at the Edinburgh Fringe, some of which later surfaced on the live album Midnight at the Fringe. With his various bands and as a solo artist, he has released a dozen studio albums plus a variety of singles compilation albums, live CDs and limited edition, fanclub only bootlegs known as the Castaway Club series.

Since the late 1980s he has increasingly worked as a broadcaster and DJ on BBC Radio. He has presented programmes such as Home Truths, Pick Of The Week and The Locker Room - a long running series about men and masculinity - on BBC Radio 4, and was awarded a Sony Academy Award in 1997 for "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" a radio documentary on gay music produced by Benjamin 'sticky' Mepsted. He has also worked on Radios 1, 2, 3, 5 Live and BBC 6 Music - where he currently presents his own new music show with sessions and live music.

Robinson rarely performs live, apart from two annual free concerts, known as Castaway Parties, for members of his mailing list. These take place in South London and Belgium every January. In the Belgian Castaway shows, he introduces many songs in Dutch. The Castaway Parties invariably feature a wide variety of established and unknown artists and groups who have included Show Of Hands, Philip Jeays, Jan Allain, Jakko Jakszyk, Stoney, Roddy Frame,The Bewley Brothers and Paleday alongside personal friends such as Lee Griffiths and T. V. Smith.

Advocacy

Robinson was an outspoken advocate of the gay rights movement in the 1970s and perhaps his best known song is "Glad to be Gay", originally written for a Pride rally in London in 1976, and which reached No.18 in the UK Singles Chart as part of TRB's Rising Free EP.

He has become an advocate for a wider sexuality than his earlier portrayal as only a homosexual campaigner allowed – marrying a woman and starting a family. The family newspapers found this exceptionally amusing, with headlines such as "BRITAIN'S NO 1 GAY IN LOVE WITH GIRL BIKER" (The Sunday People) and "GLAD TO BE DAD" (The Sun). Robinson maintains that he suffered abuse from homosexual activists as a result. His last studio album Having It Both Ways (1996) included a short hidden track at the end of the record, sung a cappella to the tune of his earlier hit "Glad To be Gay", in which he sings about having spent 21 years fighting for gay liberation, ending with the line "I'm not gonna wear... a 'straight' jacket for you".

He is also an enthusiastic proponent of Apple computers, which he has used extensively since the mid 1980s and in 1999/2000 was involved in celebrity seminar work for Apple to promote their home video editing software iMovie.

Life and Family

Robinson attended a Quaker school (Friends School Saffron Walden) between 1961 and 1967.

Robinson has two brothers and one sister: Matthew (former exectuve producer of BBC1's EastEnders), George and Sophy.

Discography

Singles

  • "The Whitby Two-Step" (1975)
  • "2-4-6-8 Motorway" (1977)
  • "Don't Take No for an Answer" EP (1978)
  • "Up Against the Wall" (1978)
  • "Bully for You" (1979)
  • "Never Gonna Fall in Love Again" (1979)
  • "Not Ready" (1980)
  • "Invitation" (1980)
  • "Total Recall" (1981)
  • "Now Martin's Gone" (1982)
  • "War Baby" (1983)
  • "Listen to the Radio (Atmospherics)" (1983)
  • "Back in the Old Country" (1984)
  • "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" (1984 - Steely Dan cover)
  • "Prison" (1985)
  • "Nothing Like the Real Thing" (1986)
  • "Still Loving You" (1986)
  • "Feel So Good" (1987)
  • "Spain" (1987)
  • "Hard Cases" (1988)
  • "Blood Brother" (1990)
  • "Living in a Boom Time" (1992)
  • "Hard" (1994)
  • "Connecticut" (1996)

Albums

  • Cafe Society (1975)
  • Power in the Darkness (1978)
  • TRB Two (1979) (produced by Todd Rundgren)
  • Sector 27 (1980)
  • Tom Robinson Band (1981)
  • North By Northwest (1982)
  • Cabaret '79: Glad to Be Gay (1982)
  • Hope and Glory (1984, later reissued as War Baby: Hope and Glory)
  • Still Loving You (1986)
  • The Collection (1987)
  • Last Tango: Midnight at the Fringe (1988)
  • We Never Had It So Good (1990, with Jakko Jakszyk)
  • Winter of '89 (1992, bootlegged as Motorway: Live)
  • Living in a Boom Time (1992)
  • Love Over Rage (1994)
  • Having It Both Ways (1996)
  • The Undiscovered Tom Robinson (1998)
  • Home From Home (1999)
  • Smelling Dogs (2001, spoken word album)

Notes

External links

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