Robin Simon

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Robin Simon
Birth name Robin Simon
Born (1956-07-12) 12 July 1956 (age 60)
Halifax, West Yorkshire, England
Genres New wave, post-punk, synthpop
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Guitar, synths
Years active 1970s–present
Associated acts Ultravox, Visage, Magazine, John Foxx,Neo, Ajanta Music.

"Robin" Simon (born 12 July 1956 in Halifax, West Yorkshire, England)[1] is a British guitarist who was a member of Ultravox, Magazine and Visage.


Early career[edit]

Robin Simon had played in several local bands in and around Halifax in the early- to mid 1970s, including one which featured future Ultravox member Billy Currie. Another, with brother Paul Richard Simon on drums, was with American soul singer Limmie.[2] He moved to London in 1975 and later joined the punk rock band Ian North's Radio (later called Neo) in 1976. Neo were one of the bands on the early London new wave, punk live scene. They featured on the Live at the Vortex album and later supported Ultravox several times at the Marquee club in London, before Robin was offered the guitarist position in Ultravox.[3]


Simon joined Ultravox, replacing Stevie Shears, in 1978, bringing a more multi-dimensional sound to the band. His co-write, and first single from the subseqent album, Slow Motion, provided the original line-up with its only official hit.[4][5]

In addition to playing all guitars on the album Systems of Romance, he co-produced it with the band, Conny Plank (of Kraftwerk fame) and Dave Hutchins. He also pioneered the use of synhesizers that were put through guitar effects pedals, prior to Gary Numan's echoing of the technique, notably on the track Quiet Men, a song which used a Big Muff fuzz through a car stereo speaker, with envelope follower on parts, to achieve a unique sound. He also pioneered the use of multi-effects for guitar on Systems of Romance, to create an early grunge type of sound using Electro Harmonix and MXR effect pedals, such as Big Muff fuzz, compressor, wah-wah and flanger, tremolo and chorus. These were sent through a Music Man amplifier and cab, then to tape and also fed back to be re-recorded through a vintage Fender Champion amp. This was possibly the first use of fully produced multi-effects on guitar, as opposed to the use of just one or two pedals, or direct amp sound, more usual at the time, going straight to the multitrack. The guitar sound on Slow Motion, the song he instigated with the band, also featured a second delay, echo, added to the verse guitar riff at the mixing stage, as well as the shorter, memory man echo, of the initial guitar. The second echo is a timed, dotted quarter note repeat; a similar use of echo effects to the one later created by guitarist The Edge, of U2. Other effects such as deep chorus and ring modulation were added at mixdown to create occasional keyboard-like guitar sounds.

In early 1979, after the US tour with the band and no longer on island records, having been dropped by the label despite increased sales over previous releases,plus positive reviews, John Foxx left Ultravox. Robin Simon left some months later. He felt that without John Foxx, who founded and named the band,was its main songwriter,plus the person mainly responsible for the ultravox style and direction,a new singer could cause the band to lose its integrity. Also the emerging direction,after Systems of Romance, towards a more electro, style started to exclude the guitar more. He was however, a keen Kraftwerk fan at the time,even having copied their Man Machine,red shirt black tie, image on tours prior to recording Systems of Romance. While on the USA tour,he met Grace Weisbard, and returned to New York three months later to marry her on 25 April 1979. He lived in Coney Island, New York,for a year, and jammed with, among others, a local electro post-punk band called The Futants[6] (along with Defunkt keyboardist Martin Fischer). Grace Simon (formerly Weisbard) moved to England with him, during his time with Magazine,before returning to New york. Being at the forefront of the new German influenced electro scene,with Systems of Romance featuring drum machine and synth bass on various songs,prior to most other uk bands of the era,Robin Simon and Billy Currie had later began visiting the Billy's nightclub in Soho.The club was at the heart of a new electronic music scene, inspired by all things European and cinematic, and would go on to become a major influence on the New Romantic scene.Prior to this he had also attended earlier soho club nights, based around a David Bowie fan club, with Steve Strange and Rusty Egan,as dj, in attendance. [7]


After Returning to England, he joined Magazine in 1980 replacing John McGeoch.[8] After Magazine's tour of the United States and Australia plus a later live appearance with them on the German tv show Rockpalast,he moved on from the band to record with John Foxx again,on the Garden Album. He played on the song the saddest quay, from Magazine keyboards player Dave Formulas solo album ,Satellite Sweetheart in 2009.[9]

John Foxx[edit]

Simon contributed to Foxx's solo albums The Garden (1981), The Golden Section (1983) In Mysterious Ways (1985) and performed on stage during his 1983 tour and at a special John Foxx & the Maths show at London's Roundhouse in 2010.[10]


Ultravox had gone on to greater success with Midge Ure fronting the band, but when he left the band in 1988, Billy Currie formed a new band which later included Simon. Using the early name of Uvox at rehearsal stage, they later used the name Humania. Live gigs at londons Marquee club and the borderline followed,though Currie later moved on from the project to reform a new line up of Ultravox.[11] The band was short-lived, with Currie subsequently forming another incarnation of Ultravox without Simon.[11] Simon also worked with Ian North and former Ultravox frontman John Foxx during their solo careers.[12][2]


  • Live At The Vortex (1977) (compilation of various artists)
John Foxx
  • Sinews Of The Soul (2006)
Ajanta Music
  • And Now We Dream Secret door. (2006)


  1. ^ Chase, Helen. Magazine Pg. 23
  2. ^ a b "AjantaMusic", Independent Artists Company
  3. ^ "Neo", punkmodpop
  4. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2006). The Essential Rock Discography. Edinburgh: Canongate. p. 1132. ISBN 978-1-84195-827-9.  "[78] Robin Simon – guitar (ex-NEO) repl. Shears ... [Apr 79] Robin ... departed to Magazine."
  5. ^ Welbourn Tekh, "Ultravox – Systems of Romance (review)", Head Heritage
  6. ^ Metamatic Forum: Robin Simon – The Futants
  7. ^ Reynolds, Simon (2005) "Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984", Faber and Faber, ISBN 978-0-571-21570-6
  8. ^ New Musical Express, 26 July 1980 "Magazine have already recruited a replacement for John. He is former Ultravox guitarist Robin Simon who has been rehearsing with the band for the past three weeks and has already been writing material with them."
  9. ^ Larkin, Colin (1992) "The Guinness Who's Who of Indie and new wave Music", Guinness Publishing, ISBN 0-85112-579-4
  10. ^ Masters, Tim. "John Foxx celebrates the sound of synths". BBC. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  11. ^ a b Grant, Steven, Robbins, Ira, & Reno, Brad "Ultravox", Trouser Press
  12. ^ Strong, Martin C. (1999). The Great Alternative & Indie Discography. Edinburgh: Canongate. p. 266. ISBN 0-86241-913-1. 
  • The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll – 3rd Edition

External links[edit]