Rockie Robbins is to make his long awaited UK debut at London’s Jazz Café
Sunday, 10th March 2019.
Rockie Robbins was born Edward W. Robbins Jr. in Minnesota, Minneapolis. An uncle owned a record shop which is were Robbins discovered his love of music. By the age of 11 Robbins had amassed a personal collection of over 10,000 singles. In his teens, he sang with The Mystics and recorded a demo, which he sent to A&M Records in Los Angeles. Very rarely does an artist get set signed in this way, but clearly the company heard a quality in his voice they could not ignore.
He signed to A&M Records in 1979 and embarked on a series of album recordings combining his unique and masterful voice with a musical excellence, on hand during this golden era of soul music.
On his debut self titled album, Robbins worked with arrangers and producers Richard Evans (Natalie Cole, Peabo Bryson, Marlena Shaw, Linda Williams) and Johnny Pate (The Impressions, B.B. King, Betty Everett) from Chicago.
Singles were the self-penned “If I Ever Lose You” and the Earth Wind & Fire cover “Be Ever Wonderful”, the latter making the US R&B charts in 1979. The album came out despite the original recordings being accidentally erased - the whole project had to be started again from scratch. Over half the songs were penned by Robbins, “I Can Hardly Wait” written by Skip Scarborough with Wanda Hutchinson of The Emotions. The re-recording was a success and has left a lasting impact on fans. Released only once on CD in 2002, it remains in demand, original copies exchanging hands for large sums of money.
In 1980 Robbins’ second album “You And Me” was released, the title track becoming a trademark song and Robbins’ biggest hit single, no. 9 on the R&B chart. He performed live on The Tonight Show. The album also reached 19 in the same chart. It was produced by Bobby Martin (largely associated with Gamble & Huff at Philadelphia International, other big hits for The Manhattans at Columbia and with fellow A&M artists L.T.D. featuring Jeffrey Osborne). “You And Me” was a song by the group Exile taken to a new dimension with Martin’s exquisite production and definitive Robbins’ vocals. It reached the US R&B Top 10 and stayed on that chart for over five months. The album included songs composed by Sam Dees, Larry Graham, Leon Ware, Zane Grey and Allee Willis, the latter in collaboration with Robbins; from the same period he co-wrote “September” and “Boogie Wonderland” for Earth Wind & Fire.
In 1981 “I Believe In Love” became a third A&M album for Robbins, the title track a US R&B Top 30 hit. Skip Scarborough and Jerry Peters were on board as producers, delivering what some would say was the most consistent album of all. Robbins joined his producers as co-writers for “An Act of Love” and joined Philly writer Ron ‘have mercy’ Kersey as co-writer on “Time To Think”, both songs winning over fans while becoming dance floor hits. Solely in his own name he composed another definitive moment in “Give Our Love A Chance” and sang romantic songs “For You, For Love”, “Talk To Me”, “I’ll Turn To You” and the aforementioned title track, at the top of his game.
After recording a fourth album at A&M, production styles in the mainstream changed and so it was decided to halt the album’s release. Instead Robbins moved to MCA Records where his next album would once again be self-titled. It won over more fans with “I’ve Got Your Number”, “Goodbyes Don’t Last Forever”, and “We Belong Together”. With Richard Evans back as a producer alongside a team of others and a team of writers and arrangers took the sound closer to what was happening in Los Angeles at Solar Records, the so-called ‘Solar Sound’. Robbins also recorded the song “Emergency” at MCA in 1984 for the Grammy Award winning soundtrack album “Beverly Hills Cop”.
In 1986 and 1987 he performed at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles in tributes to both Aretha Franklin and Smokey Robinson.
More recently Robbins records independently. Now, after a handful of singles Robbins is committed to completing an exciting new album and is currently in session with Minnesota’s Ricky Peterson, continuing an association with the musician that began at A&M in 1979.
Rockie Robbins is to make his long awaited UK debut at London’s Jazz Café in March 2019.