Bobby Wellins

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Bobby Wellins
Bobby Wellins photo.jpg
Wellins performing live in 2008
Background information
Birth nameRobert Coull Wellins
Born(1936-01-24)24 January 1936
Glasgow, Scotland
Occupation(s)Musician, bandleader
InstrumentsTenor saxophone
Years activemid-1950s – 2016
Associated actsTony Crombie, Stan Tracey

Robert Coull Wellins (24 January 1936 – 27 October 2016) was a Scottish tenor saxophonist best known for his collaboration with Stan Tracey on the British jazz album Jazz Suite Inspired by Dylan Thomas's "Under Milk Wood" (1965).[1][2]


Robert Coull Wellins was born into a showbiz family living in the Gorbals, Glasgow; he later lived in Carnwadric and attended Shawlands Academy.[3] Wellins studied alto saxophone and harmony with his father Max, and also played piano and clarinet when young. He joined the RAF as a musician playing tenor sax.[4] After demobilisation he played with a few Scottish bands before moving to London in the mid-1950s.[5] He was a member of Buddy Featherstonhaugh's quintet between 1956 and 1957,[4] together with Kenny Wheeler. Around that time Wellins also joined drummer Tony Crombie's Jazz Inc., where he first met pianist Stan Tracey,[4] joining Tracey's quartet in the early 1960s. He also worked with Lionel Grigson in 1976.[6] At the end of the 1970s he was a member of the Jim Richardson Quartet.[4]

In the mid-1970s he led his own quartet with pianist Pete Jacobsen, bassist Adrian Kendon (replaced later by Ken Baldock, and then Andy Cleyndert in the 1980s) and drummer Spike Wells. In the 1980s he formed a quintet with fellow sax player Don Weller and then with guitarist Jim Mullen; the former group included Errol Clarke on piano, Cleyndert on bass and Wells on drums, while the latter featured Pete Jacobsen on piano. Following this group, Wellins led various quartets, which included players such as Liam Noble on piano, Simon Thorpe on bass and Dave Wickens on drums. Later, he has renewed his association with drummer Spike Wells with a quartet featuring Mark Edwards on piano and Andrew Cleyndert on bass.

In 2012, Wellins was the subject of a documentary film, Dreams are Free, directed by Brighton-based director Gary Barber. Using interview and concert footage, the film traces the rise, fall and redemption of Wellins, showing how he overcame addiction and depression, and rediscovered the desire to play after ten years away from jazz.

Wellins died on 27 October 2016 after being ill for some years.[7]


With Jimmy Knepper


  1. ^ Fordham, John (2001-12-20). "Stan Tracey". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  2. ^ Fordham, John (2006-04-14). "Bobby Wellins, When the Sun Comes Out". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  3. ^ 6th para.
  4. ^ a b c d "Bobby Wellins". All About Jazz. Archived from the original on 7 July 2012.
  5. ^ Feather, Leonard; Gitler, Ira (2007). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz. Oxford University Press US. p. 684. ISBN 0-19-532000-X.
  6. ^ John Chilton, Who's Who of British Jazz, p. 382.
  7. ^ Vacher, Peter (28 October 2016). "RIP Bobby Wellins (1936-2016)". Jazzwise. Retrieved 28 October 2016.

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