Bob Andrews (keyboardist)
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20 June 1949|
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|
|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, United States.
Born in the UK, just outside Leeds, Yorkshire, Andrews grew up in the district of Kirkstall, attending a 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 playing in a skiffle group formed at school. Andrews' earliest introductions to music came through the radio and his teenage next-door neighbor who bought Elvis and Bill Haley records. Hanging out at a local penny arcade in Blackpool while on a family holiday, he was exposed to The Everly Brothers, where he would sing along to the harmonies. At 13, he discovered Chuck Berry, the Stones, the Beatles and girls, not necessarily in that order, stopped piano lessons, and learned to play bass and electric guitar. A whole new musical world opened up when Andrews heard Howlin’ Wolf and the Chicago blues, and learning those infamous guitar riffs, played underage in pubs. 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 five nights a week.
Young musician : 1966-1969
Andrews became a professional musician in 1966, spending two years working in Germany and Spain, in nightclubs and on U.S. military bases. In these musically formative years, Andrews honed his chops on keyboards, playing six or seven nights a week, sometimes 12 hours a day. The US Army and Air Force bases provided rich musical fodder, as the enlisted men’s clubs often had jukeboxes packed with the latest releases from the States. During this period Andrews learned the art of improvisation, something used extensively during those long hours. In 1968 he returned to the UK, moved to London and picked up a gig playing organ for P.P. Arnold's backing band. Andrews' immaturity lost him that job, but a chance reply to an advertisement in Melody Maker, landed him a position with pop act Kippington Lodge, and he moved down to Tunbridge Wells. In 1969, the band went through personal and musical changes and named this new entity after their guitar player, Brinsley Schwarz.
Brinsley Schwarz : 1969-1975
The band Brinsley Schwarz came to be known by a wider public audience as the musicians central to a giant publicity stunt involving flying 120 British journalists to New York’s famed Fillmore East to watch their show. The stunt turned into a disaster and left the band in debt, but it galvanised them together, and moving to a large house in the outskirts of London, they added a fifth member, and toured continuously throughout the early seventies, including playing many free shows for good and sometimes dubious causes and supporting Paul McCartney and Wings on the Red Rose Speedway tour. Their six album releases for Capitol and United Artist Records became cult favourites on both sides of the Atlantic. Their sound, at first heavily influenced by American roots idioms like rhythm ‘n’ blues and country, was to encompass several other genres including folk and reggae. 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 glam-rock. The band launched careers critical to the developing punk rock scene; Nick Lowe emerged as an important solo artist and producer, while Brinsley Schwarz and Andrews went on to help found the Rumour with Ducks Deluxe guitarist Martin Belmont.
Graham Parker and the Rumour : 1975-1979
The Brinsleys, as they were affectionately known, broke up in April 1975. Andrews and Schwarz together with guitarist Martin Belmont from the recently defunct Ducks Deluxe met up at the Hope and Anchor and decided to form a new band. Martin knew a bass player and drummer, Andrew Bodnar and Steve Goulding, who’s 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 at the beginning of 1976, the combo hit the road.
Andrews' 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, Andrews recorded five albums and toured the world relentlessly, moving from warm up slots with acts such as Thin Lizzy to their own headlining tours.
In addition to his work with the Rumour, Andrews played sessions throughout the 1970s, always a sought after player for his piano and organ work. He played on Maxine Nightingale's 1975 hit "Get Right Back". His 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 No. hit "Stop!", in 1986.
In 1979, Andrews left the Rumour following tours in support of the Squeezing Out Sparks album.
Production years : 1978-1991
During his latter time with the Rumour, Andrews started producing. In 1978, he co-produced with Brinsley Schwarz, the first album from Carlene Carter. In 1979, Stiff Records boss Dave Robinson, who managed Andrews sporadically throughout the 1970s, enlisted Andrews as producer for Stiff artist Jona Lewie. This partnership produced, among other recordings, "Stop the Cavalry", which reached the No. 2 position in the UK Singles Chart in December 1980. The song also charted in twelve other countries. Actually an anti-war song, “Calvary” included the line “I wish I was at home for Christmas.” When coupled with its seasonal release (and the production’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 Ten Pole Tudor.
The success of "Stop the Cavalry" introduced an era of varied, often eccentric Andrews productions in the early 1980s. Between 1984 and 1986, together with new production partner Colin Fairley and enigmatic manager, Jake Riviera, Andrews worked on several top twenty singles including “Young at Heart”, by Scotland’s The Bluebells, a top ten and eventual number one U.K. smash.
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 became an enduring staple and power-pop classic. During this time, Andrews also produced tracks for artists like Katrina and the Waves and Helen Watson.
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.
In 1992 he moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, United States.
New Orleans years : 1991-2012
In 1991, looking for a change of scene, Andrews moved to America, specifically to the musical mecca of New Orleans, Louisiana.
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, as well as beginning a new avenue of endeavor as a solo act. One of the highlights of his life during this time was his several opportunities to play with one of his musical heroes, Allen Toussaint. With Toussaint as producer, Andrews contributed to sessions with Michelle Shocked. He also played on Marianne Faithfull’s 2011 album Horses and High Heels recorded at Piety Studios in New Orleans. Post Hurricane Katrina, Andrews' career saw him concentrating more and more on singing and playing piano as a solo act.
Andrews released several albums during this time: In New Orleans in 2006 and Chills and Fever (2011). That year, he initiated a writing partnership with lyricist Robin Hunn and collaborated on three projects: Shotgun (spring 2012) , Invisible Love (fall 2012), both book/CD collaborations, and, after moving to New Mexico, Andrews' Hammond organ CD, "Set the Hammond on Fire" in 2013. All three CDs featured a veritable who’s who of New Orleans musicians (Jermal Watson, John Mooney, Alex McMurray, Cornell Williams, Matt Perrine, Carlo Nuccio, and Red Priest).
In 2012, he left New Orleans and moved to New Mexico.
The Rumour Reunites : 2011-2015
In 2010, a documentary about Graham Parker and the Rumour was shown in New York City 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. Steve 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 aging rocker whose career stalled. Parker told him of the reunion, and Apatow wrote the entire band into the script. Parker and the Rumour toured on the back of the film release in the US, the UK and Europe to enthusiastic audiences until Parker and the band called it quits in the fall of 2015.
He currently resides in Taos, New Mexico, United States, playing frequent solo shows, and other appearances with several talented local musicians.
- "Bob Andrews | Credits". AllMusic. 20 June 1949. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
- Birch, Will (2003). No Stopping Til Canvey Island. Virgin Books Ltd. ISBN 0-7535-0740-4.
- "Graham Parker And The Rumour - Live At Marble Arch (Vinyl, LP)". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2017-07-19.
- "1980-12-20 Top 40 Official Singles Chart UK Archive". Official Charts. 20 December 1980. Retrieved 30 June 2014.