Robin Simon

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Robin Simon
Birth name Robin Simon
Born (1956-07-12) 12 July 1956 (age 61)
Halifax, West Yorkshire, England
Genres New wave, post-punk, synthpop
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Guitar, backing vocals, 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 played guitar in an original local band in and around Halifax in the early to mid-1970s, including a line-up which featured future Ultravox member Billy Currie.[2] He moved to London in 1975 and later joined the punk pop band Ians Radio (later called Neo) in 1976. Neo were one of the bands on the early London 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 Simon was offered the guitarist position in Ultravox.[3]


Simon joined Ultravox, replacing Stevie Shears, in 1977, bringing a more multi-dimensional sound to the band. He co-wrote the single, Slow Motion, from their 1978 third album,Systems of Romance, the original Ultravox line-ups 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,memory man delay echo, compressor, wah-wah and flanger, chorus, plus amp tremolo. These were sent through a Music Man amplifier and cab, then to tape. Some tracks were fed back from tape to be re-recorded through a vintage Fender Princeton amp, reamping in modern day terms. This was possibly the first use of a full compliment of multi-effects guitar sounds, as a guitarists integral sound, prior to recording, very much like modern day guitar pedalboards and multi effects units, as compared to the use of just one or even several pedals, used by earlier guitarists and if so usually for a specific application. A direct guitar into amp sound was the norm for most guitarist of the era compared to modern times. Two other songs on the album were however his vintage Les Paul custom or Fender Stratocaster put through a single overdrive pedal into a vintage Fender Bassman amp and cab for a contrasting sound. The guitar sound on Slow Motion, the song he instigated and cowrote 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; achieved manually on the mixing desk fader for on and off of the effect, in modern times identified as a ducking delay effect. This was a use of a timed rhythmic guitar echo effect,combined with the first memory man echo, that has some similarity with the one later created and widely used by guitarist The Edge, of U2. Other effects such as deep chorus and ring modulation were added at mixdown to create occasional Synth-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. Ultravox were at the forefront of the new German influenced electro scene,with Systems of Romance featuring drum machine and synth bass plus electronic sequencing on various songs,prior to any other uk rock band certainly of the new wave punk genre of the era, with a direction and style similar to later acts that achieved worldwide success such as U2. Robin Simon and Billy Currie had been trying to find a new manager for Ultravox at the time,but without success. Ultravox used a stand in manager from the record company in there Island record days, having parted with their original manager who discovered the band over a business disagreement. It seemed there manager only intended a temporary role at the time of the deal. Robin and synyh player,violinist, Billy Currie began visiting the Billy's nightclub in Soho around the time.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 Robin had chanced upon earlier Soho club nights, based around a David Bowie fan club, though very few were there, as it wasn't Bowies official fanclub, Steve Strange and Rusty Egan, as DJ, were 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 London's 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]