Bob Andrews (keyboardist)

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Bob Andrews
Background information
Born (1949-06-20) 20 June 1949 (age 67)
Leeds, Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
Genres Rock, new wave, soul, rhythm and blues
Occupation(s) Musician, producer, songwriter
Instruments Hammond organ, piano, vocals, bass, guitar
Years active 1966–present
Associated acts The Rumour, Brinsley Schwarz, The La's

Robert Charles "Bob" Andrews (born 20 June 1949) is an English keyboardist and record producer. He lives in Taos, New Mexico.

Early years[edit]

Born just outside Leeds, Yorkshire, England,[1] Andrews grew up in the district of Kirkstall, attending the small, local church elementary school, St Stephens. He started piano lessons at age seven after his mother detected his enthusiasm for banging on his grandmother's neighbour's piano. He switched teachers at age 11 to a local piano master, Charles Seed. Passing the 11+-entrance exam to attend grammar school, he learned ukulele to play in a skiffle group formed at school. At 13, he discovered Chuck Berry and the Stones, stopped piano lessons, and learned to play bass and electric guitar. By 1965, At age 16, he had been kicked out of high school (for having long hair), secured a job as a trainee surveyor, and with a newly minted Farfisa organ, was gigging 5 nights a week.

Young musician[edit]

He became a professional musician in October 1966, spending two years working in Germany and Spain, in nightclubs and on US military bases. In 1968 he returned to London and played organ for P.P. Arnold's backing band, next landing a position with pop act Kippington Lodge, which evolved into the band Brinsley Schwarz.

Brinsley Schwarz[edit]

Brinsley Schwarz toured continuously throughout the early seventies, including supporting Paul McCartney and Wings on the Red Rose Speedway tour.[2] Their six album releases for Capitol and United Artist Records became cult favourites on both sides of the Atlantic (see Brinsley Schwarz discography). Their sound was heavily influenced by American roots idioms like rhythm 'n’ blues and country. Named for guitarist Brinsley Schwarz, the band was central to the emergence of the pub rock genre, widely perceived as a rejuvenation of traditional rock 'n’ roll energy and songwriting values in the face of music scene then dominated by prog-rock and bands playing bloated versions of Mussorgsky.

The band launched careers critical to the developing punk rock scene; Nick Lowe emerging as an important solo artist and producer, Brinsley Schwarz and Andrews going on to help found the Rumour with Graham Parker.

Graham Parker and the Rumour[edit]

The Brinsleys, as they were affectionately known, broke up in April 1975. Andrews and Brinsley, together with guitarist Martin Belmont from the recently defunct Ducks Deluxe, met at a club called the Hope and Anchor, and decided to form a new band. Martin knew a bass player and drummer, Andrew Bodnar and Steve Goulding respectively, whose band (BonTemps Roulez) had also split up. They started to rehearse down at the Newlands Tavern in Peckham, London and called themselves the Rumour, after the song by The Band. Dave Robinson, soon to be Stiff Records impresario and former Brinsleys manager, introduced them to Graham Parker and Parker also started rehearsing with them at the Tavern. A decision was made to keep the two acts separate for contractual purposes – publishing and record deals – and the band recorded a live record "at Marble Arch" and the first Graham Parker record, Howling Wind, at the end of 1975, and by the beginning of 1976, singer and band were on tour.

His keyboard playing was central and critical to the sound and success of the Rumour. Where later bands in the developing punk genre often pared their ensemble sound down to guitar, bass and drums, the Rumour had an expansive, sophisticated way with arrangements, which traded heavily on their immersion in the sounds of American soul music and the work of Bob Dylan (especially with the Band) and Van Morrison.

In his tenure with the Rumour, he recorded five critically lauded and influential records (see Graham Parker discography) and toured the world relentlessly, moving from warm up slots with acts like Thin Lizzy to their own headlining tours.

During and after the Rumour[edit]

In addition to his work with the Rumour, he played sessions throughout the Seventies, always a sought after player for his piano and organ work.

In 1979, Andrews stopped touring with the Rumour following tours in support of the Squeezing Out Sparks album.

In 1978, through an acquaintance with her manager, he co-produced (w/Brinsley Schwarz) the first album from Carlene Carter. In 1979, Stiff Records boss Dave Robinson, who managed Andrews on and off throughout the 1970s, enlisted Andrews as producer for Stiff artist Jonah Lewie. This partnership produced, among other recordings, a major UK chart smash, Stop the Cavalry which reached the No. 3 position in the charts in December 1980.[3] The song also charted in twelve other countries. Actually an anti-war song, "Cavalry" included the line "I wish I was at home for Christmas." When coupled with its seasonal release (and the productions's subtle use of sleigh bells) it contributed to the song's perception as a Christmas song, and it remains a widely requested seasonal favourite in the UK. Andrews also produced the band Ten Pole Tudor as part of his relationship with Robinson and the seminal Stiff label.

The success of Stop the Cavalry introduced an era of varied, often eccentric, Bob Andrews productions. Between 1984 and 1986, with production partner Colin Fairley and new manager Jake Riviera, Andrews worked on several top twenty singles (and a re-released number one in the UK in 1993). In 1988, with a new manager, Pete Hawkins, Andrews was recruited for production work with Lee Mavers and his band, The La's. Although he never got the chance to finish their album, his production of their song "There She Goes" cracked the Billboard top fifty, has been featured in innumerable films, and has become an enduring staple and power-pop classic.

In 1991, Andrews produced tracks for artists like Katrina and the Waves and Helen Watson. He was at the helm as producer for 'Young at Heart," the number one UK smash by Scotland's The Bluebells in 1993.

In addition to his success as a producer, he was in constant demand as a session player. He played on Maxine Nightingale's 1975 hit "Get Right Back." His angular jazz inflected piano playing was a highlight of his friend and former band mate Nick Lowe's hit "I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass" in 1977; and his Hammond organ solo was featured on Sam Brown's hit "Stop," from 1986.[1]

In 1992 he moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, United States.

Man about town (New Orleans)[edit]

Looking for a change of pace, Andrews followed his muse to a city central to his own musical inspirations, moving to the United States, specifically the musical city of New Orleans, Louisiana in 1992.

Opportunities for production work were limited initially, but the thriving local music welcomed his skills as a keyboard player, and Andrews built a reputation as sideman for a host of top New Orleans live acts, including John Mooney's Bluesiana, Johnny Sansone, The Royal Fingerbowl, The Hank Sinatras, Paula and The Pontiacs, Timothea and Marva Wright, One of the highlights of his life as a working musician in New Orleans was his several opportunities to play with one of his musical heroes, Alan Toussaint. With Toussaint as producer, Andrews contributed to sessions with the recently controversial Michelle Shocked. Andrews continues to play live dates and studio sessions – he played on all tracks of Marianne Faithfull's 2011 CD Horse and High Heels recorded in New Orleans – but these past five years have seen him concentrating more and more on singing and playing piano as a solo act.

In recent years, Andrews has released several CDs, In New Orleans in 2006 and Chills and Fever in 2010. In 2012, Andrews left New Orleans and moved to New Mexico, where he still resides and plays frequently with talented local musicians such as Hillary Smith, Chris Dracup, and John Carey, as well as frequent solo shows.

The Rumour reunites[edit]

In 2010, a documentary about Graham Parker and the Rumour was shown in NYC and several members flew in for the preview. A little impromptu gig was devised. and the Kippington Lodge Social Club played at the Lakeside Lounge to a packed audience. Later in the year, Parker asked the Rumour's drummer and bass player, Steve Goulding and Andrew Bodnar, if they would like to play on his new record. Goulding suggested asking the rest of the band to come play on it, and a reunion album Three Chords Good was made in July 2011. At about the same time, the film director, Judd Apatow, asked Parker if he would like to appear in his latest comedy, This is 40, portraying an ageing rocker whose career stalled. Parker told him of the reunion, and Apatow wrote the entire band into the script. Parker and the Rumour have toured on the back of the film release in the US and in the UK.


  1. ^ a b "Bob Andrews | Credits". AllMusic. 20 June 1949. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  2. ^ Birch, Will (2003). No Stopping Til Canvey Island. Virgin Books Ltd. ISBN 0-7535-0740-4. 
  3. ^ "1980-12-20 Top 40 Official Singles Chart UK Archive". Official Charts. 20 December 1980. Retrieved 30 June 2014.