Steve Robinson

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NEWS, SEPT 2021: Steve passed away in late 2020. He was working on his second solo album when he became a victim of the pandemic in 2020. Now, Art Of Life has been able to complete the mixes and finish the album. Listen to samples and order your copy at https://www.artofliferecords.com/recalledtolifechaptertwo.html

Steve Robinson played guitar in Igginbottom. He later emigrated to South Africa. He released a solo album in 2016, Recalled To Life, Chapter One, which features a version of Out From Under, which was co-written by Robinson. In the liner notes, Steve recalls his musical beginnings, and how he came to play with Allan. The following is an excerpt of Steve’s liner notes, edited by the Allan Holdsworth Archives, and approved by Steve for posting here.

STEVE ROBINSON ON MEETING ALLAN HOLDSWORTH

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STEVE: “I started my musical quest when I was 14 years old in 1963. I learned how to tune the guitar and started playing a few chords with help of the usual Mel Bay books. I joined one band after another but I was still pretty much in the dark as to how to play well. One of those bands was The Spell. Mick Jackson was the bass player in the band and he went on to be the bass player in the band Love Affair who wrote “Everlasting Love" and a couple of other hit songs. We became great friends and we are still in touch today.”

“My brother Robert was three years older than me and he was a member of a cycling club in Bradford, our home town. I had been playing guitar for a couple of years at that time. Robert came home from one of his cycling trips and announced to me that another of his cycling friends also played the guitar and had asked me to call on him anytime I wanted. I wasn't sure what to do and some time went by before I actually did go round to meet this guy at his father's flat.”

“I took my guitar and his father, Sam, answered the door. Sam Holdsworth was a very good Jazz pianist and if I remember correctly was a member of the Northern Dance Orchestra which was a band affiliated to one of the BBC's radio stations. Sam was not only a brilliant piano player but he played guitar too.”

“I really can't remember what happened on that first day at Allan Holdsworth's home but I do remember Allan's father was gob smacked when I showed off my barre chords which I had been practicing for a while. Sam was the first and only person who ever showed me anything on the guitar. I picked up a lot just by being close to Allan but Sam did so much for me and introduced me to the early Micky Baker books and pointed me in the right direction.”

“All this was happening around the time that Allan was playing all those old Shadows tunes but was making a transition to the blues. Allan showed me the "Bluesbreakers" album with Eric Clapton. At first I couldn't understand it when he played it to me on his HiFi. When I went back to see him a couple of weeks later he could play all the solos and seemed to have moved on from there. He was now doing some amazing things on guitar and he had pretty much rejected a lot of the music played by most of the progressive bands of the day. “

“By this time Allan and I were firm friends and we talked about forming a band but nothing happened for some time. A while later Allan was at a loose end when his band broke up and I was in a similar position and somehow we decided to start a band. Dave Freeman was a friend of Allan and Mick Skelly was a friend of mine.”

“Allan and I would spend hours and hours together working on chord sequences and harmony in general and Allan already had some melodic lines worked out that would eventually become some of the material for the "Igginbottom's Wrench" album that was recorded in 1969. The way we worked was that I would put together what I considered a nice chord sequence and I would take it to Allan and he would integrate his own chord sequence into this. Or he would write something and I would add my chord sequence to that. On all those tunes there were two chord sequences going on simultaneously. The music was very bi-tonal although it really doesn't sound that way. We did the same thing with melodic lines and after a while we found a formula to do this and it worked very well. “

“We hired a rehearsal room in Shipley, not far from the center of Bradford, and rehearsed there with Dave and Mick. After a while Mick Jackson came around to the rehearsals and by this time he was a member of Love Affair. He heard our band play and arranged the audition at Ronnie Scott's Club in Soho. Some time during this period we did a gig in Bath for BOAC which was the predecessor of British Airlines. Igginbottom was booked to do what today can only be described as a "corporate gig" but the shoot was never aired and I remember Allan had written some new material for the gig. Lost in time I suppose.”

STEVE ROBINSON AFTER IGGINBOTTOM

“After Igginbottom broke up I sold my Gibson SG, the one I used on the album, for 50 Pounds Sterling to a music shop in London and proceeded to Carnaby Street where I bought a pink suit with which to further woo my fiancée. Back in Bradford things were bleak but I eventually hooked up with Graham Lockwood who played with Allan in the original Museum band. We found gigs as a resident band at various Mecca Ballroom venues.”

“In late 1981 I was offered a gig in Swaziland by way of a late night phone call to my home which by that time was in Thringstone, Leicestershire. In the end the gig lasted for almost four years. After that I moved to Durban in South Africa with my second wife and took up a position with NAPAC (The Natal Performing Arts Council). I stayed on in this gig during the turbulent years leading up to Nelson Mandela's release from prison and the first democratic elections in SA. During this period I digested a lot of musical information and even spent some time in the NAPAC music library marking in bowings and articulations on orchestral parts for operas and other musical productions. I also wrote many orchestral arrangements for shows and other events during those years. Events in life lead to change and my wife and I eventually moved down to Cape Town for a while before settling in Stellenbosch. From there I found work in the orchestra pit bands playing for musicals or other productions in Cape Town. Again I found myself caught up in the arranging world and became a member of Symphonic Pops. As a company we hosted big orchestral events at various venues in the Western Cape.”

“When my wife finally retired from work in 2008 we found ourselves looking to buy a property to settle in for our "golden years". On moving to Robertson I was approached by the financial director of Graham Beck Wines to set up a music school on their wine farm called The Graham and Rhona Beck Music Academy. Our main objective has been to empower the Graham Beck farm workers children by giving them musical instruction and by way of that to create a situation that would not only occupy their minds and provide an alterative to crime and drugs but to improve their self esteem and even provide later job opportunities. The school will celebrate its fifth anniversary in July of 2016 and during those five years I have had a lot of children come through the doors to the school. Some of them have fallen by the wayside but most of them have stuck to the program and are now at what you might call a semi-professional level. These kids have gone on to perform at many gigs and events in the community and are now rehearsing for a big gig at the Town Hall here in Robertson next month. I suppose that this is really the pinnacle of my career and that to give back to others what I have learned along the way is just the way it should be. This might be a small and insignificant thing for others but to be honest, I get more pleasure out of seeing a face light up when that person finally understands what I am trying to impart to them than anything else I have done musically in my life. I'm not a Sam Holdsworth but for me he started this process a long time ago and I hope one of my kids will do the same for others in the future.”

SELECTED TRACK NOTES RELATED TO ALLAN

"Still Outside the Shop" - Composed on the 8th of August 1981. The title of this tune comes from a funny conversation I had with Allan Holdsworth in 1980. Allan would say to me that he was still on book one of the guitar instruction books and I countered with something like, “You think that is bad, I'm still outside the shop waiting to go in and buy book one". [YouTube]

"Out from Under" - This is actually Allan Holdsworth's title. I wrote the main theme for this tune and completed my score on the 13th of June 1980. Allan was looking for material for his album "I.O.U." and he liked this and asked if he could use it. He added a lot of material of his own and called it "Out from Under”. Allan gave me permission to use the title to identify the song even though it isn't my title. Thank you AH! [YouTube]

Steve Robinson, August 2016

Steve’s CD is still for sale at http://www.artofliferecords.com/recalledtolifechapterone.html

[YouTube playlist]

ALLAN ON PLAYING WITH STEVE IN IGGINBOTTOM

No Secrets (Facelift 1994)

"[The album] was actually recorded in London somewhere. I can't remember where - in about 5 minutes - and it was a pretty horrendous experience. And everybody in the band hated it when it was done! It was basically done by this guy Mick Jackson, who used to be in that pop group who had that big hit - jeez, what was it... the song was "Everlasting Love” - he was the bass player but the singer had a really good voice. It was actually a No.1 hit. I think the band were called "Love Affair”.

Had Igginbottom been a gigging band, then? "No. All we were doing with that band Igginbottom was rehearsing. We were just trying to get something together. There was Dave Freeman - my friend Dave; Mick Skelly, who now lives in Australia, and Steve Robinson, who lives in South Africa." This presumably cuts out any ideas of a reunion! "Yes, thankfully! I'm actually sorry that it became a record. There are some other tapes around that I have from rehearsals which would be much better memories of it than that record, but that's life...."