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Born in Dublin, Virginia, United States, Robinson moved to Chicago, Illinois, in 1926, playing and recording with Jelly Roll Morton, Clarence Williams, and Jabbo Smith during 1928 and 1929. In 1929, Robinson recorded in Chicago with Georgia Tom, billed as The Hokum Boys. Their track, written by Dorsey, "I Had to Give Up Gym" was an early dirty blues song, sometimes described as hokum.
His groups included Ikey Robinson and his Band (w/ Jabbo Smith), The Hokum Trio, The Pods of Pepper, Windy City Five, and Sloke & Ike.
His jazz style influenced many subsequent players, and his 1929 recording "Rock Me Mama" is often cited as an early use of the term "rock" as it evolved from black gospel into rock and roll.
Robinson reunited in the 1970s with Smith for a global tour.
Robinson appeared in the 1985 film Louie Bluie, directed by Terry Zwigoff, a documentary about fellow musician Howard Armstrong. As recounted by Zwigoff, Robinson had not known Armstrong previously and was initially hesitant to meet him because of their differing musical styles. However, the two got on well and perform together in the documentary.
- Louie Bluie (1986). Directed by Terry Zwigoff.
- "Ikey Robinson". 20sjazz.com. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
- Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 2107. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
- "The Hokum Boys I Had to Give Up Gym". 20sjazz.com. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
- Devi, Debra (August 8, 2012). The Language of the Blues: From Alcorub to Zuzu. True Nature Books. p. 130. ISBN 9781624071850.
- Miller, Karl Hagstrom (February 11, 2010). Segregating Sound: Inventing Folk and Pop Music in the Age of Jim Crow. Duke University Press. p. 208. ISBN 978-0822392705.
Wolf, Robert. Story Jazz: A History of Chicago Jazz Styles' Lansing, Iowa. Free River Press, 1995.
- WorldCat entry
- Ikey Robinson recordings at the Discography of American Historical Recordings.
- Findagrave entry