Rob Dean

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Rob Dean
Also known as Robert Dean
Born (1955-04-23) 23 April 1955 (age 61)
Origin Clapton, Hackney, England
Genres Glam rock, art rock, new wave, synthpop
Occupation(s) Musician, ornithologist
Instruments Guitar, vocals
Years active 1975–present
Associated acts Chanchos de Monte
Mick Karn
Richard Barbieri
Steve Jansen
Illustrated Man
Notable instruments
Gibson Firebird
Music Man guitar

Rob Dean (born 23 April 1955) is a British musician turned professional illustrator, who rose to prominence playing guitar as a member of the British new wave band Japan.[1]


He is from the Clapton district of Hackney, northeast London, England.[2]


Dean joined Japan in 1975 at the age of 20. The band began as an alternative glam rock-style band and became a popular new wave sensation in the early 1980s. Dean left the band in May 1981 following their 'Art of Parties' tour, as his guitar work had become increasingly surplus to requirements as they developed a more electronic sound.

He had previously played on their albums Adolescent Sex (1978), Obscure Alternatives (1978) and Quiet Life (1979).[3] Dean's instruments of choice were a RD artist and a Gibson SG. His last studio contributions were on the Gentlemen Take Polaroids album, released in November 1980. Dean left the band just prior to them achieving mainstream success, which lasted until they finally disbanded in December 1982.


After leaving Japan he worked on some initial ideas for a solo album with keyboardist and composer Roger Mason (keyboard player for Gary Numan amongst others). He also played on Gary Numan's Dance album (1981) as well as Sinéad O'Connor's first album The Lion and the Cobra in 1987 (on which he co-wrote one of the songs). Dean continued to work on projects with Steve Jansen, Richard Barbieri and Mick Karn such as a 1995 compilation album and a number of other works on their Medium Productions label.

His work with other artists includes the following:


Vivabeat (supported by Peter Gabriel) combined the influences of '70s British art-rock with the kind of lush technopop performed by David Bowie, Roxy Music and Sparks. The band had a worldwide hit with the track 'Man From China' from their debut album Party in the War Zone. Dean played on the follow-up single, 'The House is Burning (but there's no one home)'. The 'House is Burning' song and video (also featuring Dean) appeared in Brian DePalma's movie Body Double. In 2001 a 'best of' Vivabeat album The Good Life was released, with Dean's work on several tracks.[4]

Gary Numan and Dance[edit]

Dance Gary Numan (vocals), Rob Dean (guitar), Roger Mason (keyboards), Mick Karn (saxophone, bass), Paul Gardiner (guitar), Roger Taylor (drums), Cedric Sharpley (drums), Jess Lidyard (drums), Tim Steggles (percussion), Sean Lynch (programming), Connie Fillapello (backing vocals).

Illustrated Man[edit]

Dean formed Illustrated Man (1984) with Hugo Burnham (ex-Gang of Four), Roger Mason (Numan and others) and Australian singer/bassist Philip Foxman but their commercial success was limited.[3]

The Slow Club's World of Wonders[edit]

Rob Dean contributed to this Australian band (1990)

Jansen, Barbieri, Karn[edit]

Beginning to Melt This 1993 album features Rob Dean and ex-members of Japan.

Little has been heard of Rob Dean as a musician since. The occasional demo tapes from the eighties have surfaced for a range of projects (known as 'The Lost Tapes') where Dean experimented with electronica (with Roger Mason), his trademark guitar sounds and even acoustic tracks with vocals.

Present Day[edit]

Dean's principal activity now is as a professional ornithology writer and artist on the birds of Central America. He lives in Monteverde, Costa Rica, and, now known as Robert Dean, has established a reputation as an expert on the region's birdlife. In 2007 Dean collaborated as illustrator on a field guide (along with author Richard Garrigues), entitled The Birds Of Costa Rica: A Field Guide, [3] and in 2010 (with author George Angehr) on The Birds of Panama: A Field Guide. He has been reported as occasionally playing guitar with local bands including Monteverde's rock band Chanchos de Monte, fronted by Alan Masters.


  1. ^ [1] Archived 12 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Power, Martin. David Sylvian: The Last Romantic. Chapter 1: Dreaming Of Japan, High Places And Guitar Solos. Omnibus Press, 2004. ISBN 1-84449-587-6, ISBN 978-1-84449-587-0
  3. ^ a b c Ola's Kool Kitchen with interview of Robert Dean from Japan, from the Internet Archive
  4. ^ "Story". vivaneat. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 

External links[edit]