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Robin George - The Historical View | FESTIVALPHOTO

Robin George - The Historical View


Back in the mid eighties me and my mates all saw a fresh Young guitarist on Swedish telly. On Swedish governmentally controlled TV nota bene. Right from the start we couldn´t decide if he was cooler and better than Gary Moore. Back then we we´re more into hair bands than solid rockers and Robin soon vanished from our collective radar. But we were barely scraping the Surface! During a long and healthy career the rebellious boy from Wolverhampton has collaborated with rock greats that many guitarists would kill to join forces with even today. Here Robin takes good time to fill in my blanks from back in the day and secure his Place in the inofficial Swedish Rock´n´Roll Hall of Longlasting Fame.

FP: Robin, you started out in humble circumstances in Wolverhampton, got expelled from school and yet ended up working with rock royalty like David Byron and Phil Lynott. Do you recall the feeling of the early days, what was it like for you?

RG:- I was expelled from the grammar school because all I cared about was my guitar and music...except the music lessons there. No room for rock guitar in the school orchestra. All I wanted to do was play, and write songs, which was frowned upon by the academic minds of the establishment. I joined my first gigging band when I was fourteen and realised it was what I was supposed to do. I went to college and took one O level...before the rest of the exams I was invited to tour Europe so I did, no more exams for me!
When I was twenty, my dad said to me, get a real job, hold it for a year and I’ll help you. I did and he did. My 21st birthday present was a 1966 Gibson Les Paul, which I still have and cherish. I used to drive from Wolves to London straight after work and play on recording sessions in the renowned Denmark Street studios, often playing all night and racing straight back to the job in the nick of time the next morning.

FP: Amongst all the rock bands you´ve worked with I always raise my eyebrows to Witchfinder General. Can you share any memories from working with them? Or can you reminisce any other noteworthy studio adventures? What got you into studio work from the beginning?

RG: -Witchfinder General were possibly the most down to earth band I’ve worked with, from the heart of the Midlands Black Country, they told it like it was. We recorded in a new studio in Coventry and on the last day...we trashed it, started by the owners with a fire extinguisher, and rapidly mayhem ensued. I remember wheels screaming out of the car park in my Mini with the band still trying to extinguish me; of course they couldn’t keep up, so I escaped unscathed.
I started recording using 2 cassette decks, playing one part, and then playing back the first and recording overdubs on the second, over and over until I had a complete track. Awful quality of course, but a starting point. I worked my way up through two track machines, then four tracks etc.
When I was recording History at The Smithy in Worcestershire, my favourite engineer left to work in London and there was nobody else in his league to take over, so I engineered the sessions myself from then on, with help from my co-producers, Daniel and Dave.

FP: You´ve been involved with so many great artists, who do you remember most fondly, and why? Is there any of the collaborations that you wish would have been a steadier act?

RG: -Robert Plant was good to work with, it’s a pity that didn’t pan out. We recorded an album’s worth of songs before he got distracted. In retrospect, I should have accepted the invitation to join Asia...John Wetton is a first-class guy to play with (John contributed a song we wrote together to the LPP charity album) but we all make mistakes!
It’s impossible to work so closely with such talented artists without caring deeply for them, both as friends and colleagues. When David died, and then Phil, I was shocked but not that surprised, they both had their demons and lived life to the full. When we lost my great friend and brother in guitar, Pete Haycock ,last year I was rocked to the core.
We had just finished our new album, ‘Cruel’ by Climax Blues, when I learned of his heart failure. I am still devastated. We were in constant contact during the recording of the LovePower & Peace charity album. His virtuoso slide guitar features on most tracks (along with sixty other great musos, all for free, every penny to charity, including Angel Air Records!)We recorded a version of Phil’s song Kings Call for the album...Phil’s tribute to Elvis, and my tribute to Phil. I then co-produced Cruel with Pete. Pete was playing and singing superbly right up to the week before he died...he had no illness as has been reported; it was out of the blue.
I miss all my mates in music.

FP: My memories of you hail from when Swedish telly aired the “Heartline” video in the mid eighties. I and my mates first regarded you as a challenger to Gary Moore, but we got confused by what we regarded as pop rock career move with Notorious. How would you describe your musical journey?

RG: -Interesting and deep! I thought Notorious was a good move; Sean Harris is a great singer and we signed a major deal with Warner Bros for Europe and Geffen for the USA. The week the album was released the companies deal ended, and so did the album...the re-release of Radio Silence on Angel Air is the version Sean and I wanted to release. it’s much more accessible than the suits’ version.
I’ve been lucky enough to work with some great Rock, Blues and soul artist, so my journey has been varied, to say the least.

FP: I seem to detect a good few setbacks in your career, maybe more than many artists. David Byron perished, Phil Lynott succumbed to his drug habits, and still you always bounced back. What were the major highs lows of your career. What kept you going when for instance Phil Lynott died?

RG: -I have no choice but to keep making’s what I do. A good few setbacks is an understatement, but you have to Go Down Fighting!
Losing Phil was a major setback I would say. He’d just invited me to re-form Thin Lizzy, with him and Brian Downey which was a dream job for me, we were writing and recording towards the new album along with TV shows and a video, then tragically, Phil Died.

FP: If you were to start your career today instead of back in the day, how do you think it would have differed from back in the 70/80´s? From your experience, what would be your advice to young aspiring artists today?

RG: -Well I’d be a lot older for one thing...less curls and lycra!
Never give up hope, and don’t let the bastards grind you down!
What´s next on your agenda and can we expect more interesting releases from you in the future?
I’ve just re-mastered what was going to be Dangerous Music 2, co-produced by the great Gus Dudgeon, and I’ve got a couple of other very interesting albums in the can, including Climax Blues, which is now tragically Pete Haycock’s swansong and legacy, and it has to be heard.

Cheers for your time Robin!

To you who have read this far on the site; remember to buy the "History" aöbum by Robin George as it will provide you with all the eighties rock you can ask for in 2014!!

Skribent: Mikael Johansson
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