Born June 1st 1950 in Cambridge, Tom Robinson started as a choirboy until his
and everything else seemed to break along with it. At a time in Britain when homosexuality
was still punishable by prison, he fell hopelessly (and unrequitedly) in love with another boy
at school. Wracked with shame and sefhatred, Tom attempted suicide at age 16. An
understanding head teacher managed to get him transferred to a pioneering therapeutic
community for disturbed adolescents in Kent.
It was there at Finchden Manor that Tom's life was changed forever by a visit
from old boy
Alexis Korner. The legendary blues rocker transfixed a roomful of people with nothing but his
voice and an acoustic guitar. A supreme communicator, Korner sang about love, poverty and
racism - about human life in the raw - and Tom was mesmerised. In a moment the whole
direction of his own future life and career became suddenly clear.
Tom started out with folk-rockers 'Cafe Society' who released a record produced
by Ray Davies,
on the Kinks' label 'Konk' in 1975. Rumours told me that this recording ended up with a not so
good friendship between Tom and Ray, and later Ray Davies wrote the song 'Prince of the Punks'
about Tom Robinson. As an act of sweet revenge, Tom wrote a song about Ray called 'You Don't
Take No For An Answer' when Ray wouldn't let him out of his contract.
Inspired by an early Sex Pistols gig, Tom formed the more overtly political
Tom Robinson Band
(TRB) in 1977 at the age of 26. TRB had a hit the same year with "2-4-6-8 Motorway", quickly
followed into the Top 20 by a live EP despite a BBC ban on the controversial lead track "Glad
To Be Gay". Swept along by a tide of music press hysteria (Tom's photograph appeared on the
front cover of Melody Maker eight times in a single year) TRB's debut album "Power In The
Darkness" went gold. But the band fell quickly from favour and broke up - demoralised and
squabbling - within a year.
TOM ROBINSON BAND (TRB)
As the '80s arrived, Tom staked everything on a new band, Sector 27. They recorded
acclaimed album with Steve Lillywhite and took New York by storm (playing Madison Square
Garden with The Police) before they too split up and left Tom effectively bankrupt.
Fleeing the taxman, he packed his tape recorder, guitar and a few clothes into his Austin A40
and headed for Hamburg. Living in a friend's spare room - Tom began writing again. He ended
up working in East Berlin with a band of Eastern Block musicians, and returned home with fluent
German and a song that became his Top 10 comeback, 1983's 'War Baby'.
In 1984 a radio producer saw Robinson's extravaganzas and, impressed by his
skills, offered him a series of his own on the BBC World Service as a presente broadcasting his
favourite music to a worldwide radio audience.
He quickly moved from BBC into mainstream radio - standing in as a DJ for Janice Long on Radio
One, and as a guest contributor on Radio Four. Here he fronted his own series of programmes for
men "The Locker Room" from 1992-95. There were documentaries too: the acclaimed "Surviving
Suicide", and his history of gay music "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" which won a Sony Radio
Award for the BBC.
Accepting John Birt's thanks on behalf of the corporation that banned "Glad To Be Gay" 20 years
earlier remains one of Tom's sweetest moments.
In 1982 across a crowded room at a Gay Switchboard benefit, Tom Robinson spotted
of his dreams who, inconveniently, turned out to be a woman. Over the years they became friends,
then lovers, and eventually parents, despite a brief period in tabloid hell. "BRITAIN'S N0 1 GAY IN LOVE
WITH GIRL BIKER" screamed the Sunday People. "GLAD TO BE DAD" shouted The Sun.
Having fought so long for everyone's right to live and love however they want,
Tom was undeterred.
His mid-90s album was cheerfully titled "Having It Both Ways" and in 1998 the bisexual epic "Blood
Brother" won him Best Song and Best Male Artist at the Gay & Lesbian American Music Awards in N.Y.
Tom remains an active supporter of Amnesty International, The National Assembly Against Racism and
The Samaritans along with Peter Tatchell's Outrage! campaign and many others.
When not writing or performing himself, Robinson can be found running creative
for adults and teenagers everywhere from the Royal College of Art to the Greek island of Skyros. Since
March 2002 he can also be found on BBC Radio Two's new digital music network 6 Music - where he
introduces new and interesting music to a wider audience four nights a week... His spare time is spent
working on a new batch of songs for his 24th album, due for release in 2003.
Most of this stuff was taken from http://www.tomrobinson.com
Go there to read more about Tom Robinson
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