B. A. Robertson

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B. A. Robertson
Birth name Brian Alexander Robertson
Born (1948-09-12) 12 September 1948 (age 67)
Glasgow, Scotland
Genres Rock, pop, new wave
Occupation(s) Musician, singer-songwriter, actor
Instruments Vocals, keyboards
Years active 1960s–present
Labels Ardent Records, Asylum, Epic, Swansong Records
Website Barobertsongs.com

Brian Alexander "B. A." Robertson (born 12 September 1948)[1] is a Scottish musician, actor, composer and songwriter. He had a string of hits in the late 1970s and early 1980s, characterised by catchy pop tunes and jaunty, humorous lyrics, most notably "Bang Bang", a tongue-in-cheek commentary on famous historical and fictional couples. He also wrote with Mike Rutherford the Grammy-nominated and Ivor Novello Award-winning "The Living Years".[2] It was a number one hit in the USA, Canada, Australia and Ireland and reached #2 in his native UK. He has also written music for films and been a television presenter.

Early life[edit]

Born in Glasgow, Scotland,[1] Robertson was educated at the former Allan Glen's School, Glasgow.


He released his debut album Wringing Applause, recorded with Terry Manning, on the Ardent Records label (also home of Big Star) in 1973, but it was to be a further six years until he found success in the United Kingdom chart.

Robertson had hits between 1979 and 1981 in the UK Singles Chart, the first of which – "Bang Bang" – reached number 2 in August 1979.[3] Follow-up singles "Knocked It Off", "Kool in the Kaftan" and "To Be Or Not To Be" reached chart positions 8, 17 and 9 respectively.[3] All the singles came from his third album Initial Success, which reached number 32 in the UK Albums Chart.[3] In 1981 he had his last Top 40 hit performing a duet with Maggie Bell, of a cover version of "Hold Me" which reached number 11.[3]

He wrote or co-wrote "Carrie", "Hot Shot" and "Wired for Sound" for Cliff Richard and wrote "Language of Love" which Richard released as a B-side. Robertson also penned and sang the theme music to the television series Maggie and Multi-Coloured Swap Shop ("Hello, Hello"), and wrote and sang backing vocals for the Swap Shop spin-off group Brown Sauce's UK Top 20 hit, "I Wanna Be a Winner".

Robertson was a guest presenter on Top of the Pops on 28 August 1980, alongside then-BBC Radio 1 DJ Peter Powell.

In October 1980, Robertson appeared as a guest on the BBC Television chat show Friday Night, Saturday Morning. In the sixth and final series of the same show, Robertson appeared on one programme (January 1982) as the show's host. In February 1981 Robertson appeared playing live in concert on the BBC joint television and radio programme Rock Goes To College. He appeared at the then Preston Polytechnic, Lancashire. He also appeared as one of the Entertainers in the movie The Monster Club starring Vincent Price, John Carradine, and Donald Pleasence.

In 1987, Robertson produced the two tracks on the Eddie and the Tide album Looking For Adventure.

Robertson has regularly written songs with Mike Rutherford for Rutherford's band Mike + The Mechanics, including their hits "Silent Running" and "The Living Years". The latter was written after Robertson's father died twelve weeks before the birth of his own son, and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1990.

Robertson also wrote "We Have a Dream" for the 1982 World Cup Scotland squad and played the lead in the movie Living Apart Together, directed by Charlie Gormley. In 1983 Robertson, along with co-songwriters Terry Britten and Sue Shifrin, won a Razzie Award for the Worst 'Original' Song for "Pumpin' and Blowin'" as featured in the 1982 film, The Pirate Movie.[1]

Robertson presented a two-part documentary, Jock 'n' Roll Parts I & II charting the history of pop music in Scotland and also presented a short-lived television programme, B. A. in Music, which featured contributions from musician guests. The show made Channel 4's 2000 list 100 Greatest TV Moments from Hell after Robertson had a confrontation with Bow Wow Wow singer Annabella Lwin during which she called the programme a 'pretty shit show' and stormed off.[4]

In 1991, Robertson was billed as the co-producer and executive musical producer for Simply Mad About the Mouse: A Musical Celebration of Imagination (ISBN 1-55890-217-1), a 1991 direct-to-video release featuring top contemporary singers performing "classic Disney songs".[5]

Robertson's stage name was often mentioned in the BBC Two satirical sketch comedy programme The Fast Show, during the recurring sketch "Chanel 9", a parody of Mediterranean TV channels. The joke was based on occasionally intelligible (to English speaking audiences) names appearing in foreign broadcast speech.

Robertson more recently appeared on the Scottish segment of BBC's Children in Need telethon on 14 November 2008, performing a re-worked version of "We Have a Dream" alongside Edwyn Collins, The Gospel Truth Choir, the Tartan Army, and a host of Scottish celebrities. On 16 January 2010, he performed with a live band in Glasgow for the first time since 1981 as part of the Celtic Connections Festival. "A Scottish Songbook" featured a number of diverse artists performing songs written by Scots, and Robertson performed "Twisted" (written by Annie Ross and Wardell Gray) and his own "The Living Years" – backed by house band Session A9 and The Gospel Truth Choir. The event was filmed for subsequent broadcast by BBC Scotland.

Partial discography[edit]


Wringing Applause, 1973, Ardent ADS2804. Released as by "Brian Alexander Robertson". Produced by Georg Kajanus.

  1. "Moira's Hand" – 3:30
  2. "In the Limelight" – 3:59
  3. "These Fantasies" – 3:51
  4. "After the Theatre" – 4:57
  5. "Carnival" – 5:05
  6. "Cowboys" – 4:22
  7. "To My Star" – 5:29
  8. "Coatails" – 4:14
  9. "Baby Nuts" – 4:12
  10. "Myths and Illusions" – 4:23

Shadow of a Thin Man, 1976, Arista / Sparty 1000. Released as by "Alexander Robertson". Produced by B.A. Robertson, Gregg Jackman and Herbie Flowers.

  1. "Entrance" – 1:50
  2. "No Strength in Numbers" – 2:40
  3. "Tricky and Tough" – 3:19
  4. "Sugar" – 2:55
  5. "Tap! Tap! Tap!" – 3:12
  6. "Trans Siberian Express" – 3:46
  7. "Mighty England" – 4:43
  8. "Hail Mary" – 3:34
  9. "All the Thin Men" – 3:56
  10. "Roxanna" – 3:04
  11. "School Report" – 3:57

Initial Success, 1980, Asylum K52216. Produced by Terry Britten.

  1. "Gonzo for my Girlfriend" – 2:34
  2. "Man or a Mouse" – 2:25
  3. "Goosebumps" – 2:26
  4. "Fallin in Luv" – 2:51
  5. "Kool in the Kaftan" – 3:52
  6. "Bang Bang" – 3:16
  7. "Eat Your Heart Out Sandy Nelson" – 1:57
  8. "The B Side" – 2:37
  9. "To Be or Not To Be" – 3:15
  10. "She's a Beezer" – 2:42
  11. "England's Green & Pheasant Land" – 3:07
  12. "Walking Rover" – 3:23
  13. "Knocked it Off" – 3:35
  14. "Here I Sit..." – 1:26

Bully for You, 1981, Asylum, K52275. Produced by Terry Britten.

  1. "Saint-Saëns" – 2:46 About this sound listen 
  2. "Bully for You" – 2:45
  3. "Maggie" – 2:33
  4. "Growing Old's Unhealthy" – 3:15
  5. "Please Miss" – 3:35
  6. "In the Bar at the Munich Hilton" – 3:39
  7. "Dart Vader" – 3:33
  8. "Hey Presto" – 3:12
  9. "Flight 19" – 3:33
  10. "Only One" – 3:41
  11. "Turn the Volume Down" – 2:49
  12. "Home Sweet Home" – 2:52

R&BA, Asylum, K52383. Produced by B.A. Robertson.

  1. "Dot Dot Dot"
  2. "Ready or Not"
  3. "Moscow Rules"
  4. "Nothing Like a Great Romance"
  5. "Four Minutes to Midnight"
  6. "Hold Me"
  7. "Legislate for Love"
  8. "Son of a Gunn"
  9. "One Plus One"
  10. "Asleep With a Stranger"
  11. "Just Like a Rash"


"Moira's Hand", Ardent ADA 2907. Released as by "Brian Alexander Robertson"

  1. "Moira's Hand"
  2. "To My Star"

"All the Thin Men", 1976, Arista 64. Released as by "Alexander Robertson"

  1. "All the Thin Men"
  2. "School Report"

"Goosebumps", 1979, Asylum Records, K13146

  1. "Goosebumps"
  2. "The B-Side"

"Bang Bang", 1979, Asylum Records, K13152

  1. "Bang Bang"
  2. "2(b) B Side the C Side"

"Knocked it Off", 1979, Asylum Records, K12396

  1. "Knocked it Off"
  2. "Sci-Fi"

"Kool in the Kaftan", 1980, Asylum Records K12427. Released as an ordinary single and as a gatefold

  1. "Kool in the Kaftan"
  2. "Baby I'm a Bat"

"To Be or Not to Be", 1980, Asylum Records K12449

  1. "To Be or Not To Be"
  2. "Language of Love (Live)"
  3. "Hot Shot (Live)"

"Flight 19", 1980, Asylum Records K12482

  1. "Flight 19"
  2. "Alright on the Night"

"Sucker for Your Love", 1981, Asylum Records SAM 131. Promotional release: "A Free B.A. from Middlesex Poly". Also with "Bully for You" (without picture sleeve).

  1. "Sucker for Your Love (Live)"
  2. "Man or a Mouse (Live)"

"Hold Me", 1981, Swan Song, BAM 1. Duet with Maggie Bell

  1. "Hold Me"
  2. "Spring Greens"

"Saint-Saëns", 1981, Asylum Records K12523

  1. "Saint-Saëns"
  2. "Gonzo for My Girlfriend (Live)"

"We Have a Dream", 1982, WEA International K19145. Scotland World Cup Squad.

  1. "We Have a Dream"
  2. "Wrap up the Cup"

"Ready or Not", 1982, Asylum Records K12602

  1. "Ready or Not"
  2. "Les Beans"

"One Plus One", 1982, Asylum Records K12595

  1. "One Plus One"
  2. "UNKNOWN"

"Dot Dot Dot", 1983, Asylum Records K13190

  1. "Dot Dot Dot"
  2. "Keep Off the Grass"

"Now and Then", 1983, After Hours Records AFT10 [From the movie Living Apart Together]

  1. "Now and Then"
  2. "Page 15B Scene 8A"

"Time", 1984, RCA 104217. With FridaABBA's instrumental track "Arrival", with added lyrics

  1. "Time"
  2. "(I Am) The Seeker"


"Ceud Mìle Failte (A Hundred Thousand Welcomes) (The BBC-TV Commonwealth Games Theme)" 1986, BBC Records RESL 192. 12" 12 RSL 192.

  1. "Ceud Mìle Failte (A Hundred Thousand Welcomes) (The BBC-TV Commonwealth Games Theme)"
  2. "See You in Auckland"

"Bang Bang", 1989, Old Gold Records OG9914

  1. "Bang Bang"
  2. "To Be Or Not To Be"


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "B.A. Robertson". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2015-12-15. 
  2. ^ (18 March 2000). "newsline...". Billboard (New York).
  3. ^ a b c d Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 465. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  4. ^ [1] Archived 19 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Simply Mad About the Mouse: A Musical Celebration of Imagination, videocasette.
  6. ^ "Albums by B.A. Robertson: Discography, songs, biography, and listening guide". Rate Your Music. Retrieved 2015-12-15. 

External links[edit]