This is a Bio-pic of Robins' music activities
?My first guitar , yes of course I remember it...........I made it at school as a woodwork project . It was a solid electric which I painted black .
One of my friends was so impressed with it he convinced me to swap it for his Hofner acoustic , it was a model with f sound holes , steel strings and a tailpiece .I put an electric pickup on it so that it could be amplified and kept it for several years .
I next bought a Watkins Rapier.....one of the few guitars you could buy then left-handed.....and with this we formed my first band , called "The Leeways" , based at The Lee Youth Club near Chesham . Pete Reynolds was the drummer , we still keep in touch with Christmas cards each year .
We did some Beatles , some Stones and some Shadows . I remember it was a lot of fun with very little equipment , my guitar and both microphones being put through a Watkins Dominator amp .
We played at other youth clubs and village halls but eventually the enthusiasm waned a little , we couldnt always agree on where to go next , and the band folded . It did not seem a big deal at the time .
I sold the Hofner but I was still interested in music really.......there were more vacancies for bass guitarist than lead at that time....... and so I made a bass guitar using a body from a factory in Loudwater , I think it was Lintafoam , or the premises became Lintfoam later .
With many furniture factories in High Wycombe it was a good place to get small runs of parts made up , I was told they were destined for a budget Vox guitar , all the bodies were red and any slightly defective ones were placed in a skip out by the road......which found their way into the hands of my circle of friends...
The neck I made from a hefty lump of oak fencepost , took me hours to form it to shape with no power tools , I copied an Epiphone bass guitar for fret measurements and scale length which belonged to a guy I think named Tony , who later became one of the founders of the Elgin guitar amp brand ....without a truss rod the neck did bend a bit , but it was playable.....   . I went for several auditions , but most were at the point of forming bands by total beginners which had little appeal . Then I changed jobs and met a guitarist Pete Clears who was quite proficient , along with another employee from the same company who wanted to be the singer we formed a band .
I only recall one gig.....I think it was in West Wycombe .......but then again fate took a hand , the singer was made redundant.... but found another job that involved him being away from home on training schemes , and at the same time the guitarist left..............as his parents were moving away . The end of another band..............

The Foundations , left to right , myself , John Orison , Graham Smith , Danny Wild

I still was keen enough to go to other auditions , and at one of them the drummer , Graham Smith I think , took me to one side and asked me to come to another audition the following Sunday with a different band . This is where I met Danny , and we spent a useful afternoon experimenting with blues , soul and other stuff I had never played before .
We practiced hard and played some local gigs , we were called "The Foundations" until another band of the same name had a hit with "Baby----now that I found you". This was the first of many joint music ventures with Danny Wild .
I had traded my homemade bass and my Watkins Rapier for a Fender Jazz bass . It was a fun time too , but the drummer did not really have his heart in it , he always seemed more interested in the pulling power it had for the opposite sex........and unable at that time to find a replacement the band folded .
Months later I heard from Danny.......... he had joined/formed another band with a drummer Bob Pearce... and bass player Geoff Jolliffe...I used to go to watch them play and became a roadie/driver for the band . We all became friends and still keep in touch today , come to think of it most of my friends are musicians .
The fourth member was John Orison......he left......I think it was work committments , but the band continued as the three-piece named "Moggie" . There were some memorable gigs like the ones at Clivden at the time when it was still part of an American university........... Like so many good things it didnt last forever , I think it was Geoff this time who had work committments....the farewell gig was in Marlow .
The next time I heard from Danny he was involved with a backing band for a blues pianist/singer Errol Dixon , this had to be soon after since I still had the same car????.....he needed a bass player......and I had been made redundant....... so for about the next year we were playing together all over backing Errol . Did some crazy things like driving to Glasgow and back without stopping over , when the M1 was the only motorway............... I remember we played Henry's Bluess Loft in Birmingham , and the Cambridge Jazz Festival and the 100 Club in Oxford Street a couple of times.................I dont recall exactly why it ended , I think Errol decided to go back to being a solo performer.....Errol had previously always been a solo artist and a backing band was something of an experiment , he was still going strong last time I checked , an internet search revealed several recent gigs he had done .


An Errol Dixon Band rehersal......note the Watkins Dominator amp still in use.....


I auditioned for a band in Hemel Hempstead who were intending to do mainly original material and we did a few rehearsals but no gigs , but the lead guitarist , Colin Tribe , was also playing in an Irish show band "The Hemeltones" who needed a bass player to fill in while their regular player was on a work project in Wales .
That was a busy time with two or sometimes three gigs every weekend...... Sometime around here Danny spotted a nice left-handed guitar in the Exchange and Mart , a Grimshaw semi-acoustic which I recall needed a little work on the electrics to get the pickup working , but allowed me to keep my hand in on a six-string instrument .
Danny got in touch again after a few months , he had a Rock and Roll band 'Sunstroke' working and needed to use my van , so I became roadie/driver again for a while but eventually my work committments meant I had to miss lots of the gigs , so I sold Danny the van but continued to keep in touch and helped out the band in recording some songs for them . Months later I heard that the band had split , Danny was living in Swanage , and so for the next few years we had little contact , I spent a couple of weekends in Swanage , and on the odd occasion Danny would drop in for a cup of tea on the way to a solo gig , which he was doing then with backing tapes .
I was out of the country for a while here......that has to have been the summer of 1979.......but traded my Grimshaw guitar in for a left-handed Les Paul copy which I found.....made in Japan for Marshall under the CMI trademark....I took it with me to try and improve my knowledge and ability . In the six months I was away in France nothing much had changed....... there was a long quiet spell here.......I had bought a house and was busy with DIY........Danny would still drop by from time to time . He did a spell about here with Shaking Stevens and I did go to at least two gigs to watch , one was I think at South Bank Poly , one was in a club north of Birmingham somewhere .
Geoff had another band and I used to watch them practice.... and sometimes go to gigs too...but I didnt play much myself ....for quite a few years here I hardly touched a guitar . Then.........quite by accident......or fate ........... I found out that Geoff had a different "function" band and was quite busy with gigs , I went along to watch a few times and eventually became an extra roadie/fixer for the band .There were always things breaking or leads going bad ,and they were busy it  seemed almost every weekend , mostly local gigs . Pete Stothart became the lead guitar for a while , which is where I first met him......
After a while he  had to drop out , work pressure again!!!...and Geoff asked Danny to fill the gap , so I became a roadie for Danny again . This was a useful time for me , as I was able to experiment with keyboards and wind instruments and sat in on a lot of the songs doing vocal harmonies too.... .


I found a nice left-handed guitar in the shape of a Yamaha Pacifica......this had the best fretboard which I had found on a left-handed guitar , better than my Les Paul copy by far .
Its only when you find a good guitar do you realise you have been struggling with a poor one . The only problem was I found I would keep knocking the control knobs , so in the end it was extensively modified , see later..
In Geoff's band , a change in drummer was forced by the previous one............ Pete moving to Norwich , but after a couple of auditions , a new Pete , Pete Last joined the band . So it continued for a year or two ....sometime here I was motivated to form a band and ended up with Danny and Pete supporting me playing my own choice of music in my own band .....GNEISS........
I had found a second -hand 12-string acoustic in a local music shop in December 1999.......a Washburn......and just had to buy it , I love the sound of a 12-string and found I could play stuff like the Eagles . I love this guitar , after I had cleaned it up and worked on the action some it was real fun to play .
It was hard to mike it up though........so I had a simple piezo transducer under the bridge and an external pre-amp . I was not keen to cut holes in the guitar to build the pre-amp inside . It holds its tune really well and all the bad stories I had heard about tuning 12-strings were not true of this one . I eventually had to ease off use of it though as the fret were becoming really badly worn , I did keep it though , and over the years have improved the action and replaced some of the frets and  put the pre-amp inside , just cutting holes for a volume control and the battery box..
I had purchased an Aria 12 string left -handed acoustic to take over from the Washburn , on this guitar the action was totally different , made me wonder if the previous owner of the Washburn had changed it quite a lot from the factory settings....
My next guitar was an Epiphone Les Paul , again it has a good fret board , and it is a real pleasure to have a wider choice of left-handed guitars these days , gone are the days when I used to consider buying a right-handed one and changing the strings over .
Somewhere here another friend , Dave Morley , also known as Jake , found another left-handed CMI Les Paul , I think he said it was at a car boot sale which I purchased from him...
More recently I have aquired a six-string acoustic.........to complete the set so to speak..............this is a Takamine electro-acoustic . For a long time I had been writing songs and filling notepads with scribbled fragments.......I finally got around to laying down some tracks seriously using a multitrack recording programme on a computer in 1995 but I have to admit that trying to programme the drums was the biggest challenge for me .
The more recent trend in pubs running 'Jam' nights I have found really useful.......as it has encouraged me to finish a lot of songs and do them live at one of the 'Jam' nights ........Lots of the other musicians are doing their own songs too , and I find it a friendly stimulating atmosphere . After many years in a high volume music environment , the quieter setting of these jam nights is more comfortable .........and the most recent gigs I have done involve playing acoustic guitars , usually three of us , on 12 string / 6 string and one on mandolin . I have been asked about my picking style more than once , I am not sure if it's what you call flat picking . I found on a 12 string guitar that I could not do any finger picking , but on the Aria 12 string I could use a plectrum quire well..
The strings were not flat in line at the bridge like my Washburn , but curved in an arc with the middle strings higher up . I found on this guitar that I could pick alternate strings with some accuracy and now I pick alternately upwards and downwards on different strings usually in groups of seven , which fits a lot of songs .
Better yet I found that I could do this and sing too without too many errors . I could not do the same thing easily on the Washburn and so I eventually stopped using it .
The Aria did not have a good sound when amplified though , it was not a factory installed pickup and pre-amp and always sounded a little muffled to me , but then I found a new guitar ..........on the wonderful World Wide Web I discovered that Tanglewood manufactured a left-handed 12 string electro-acoustic and so ordered one from my friendly local music store , and it has become one of my main instruments .
All my electric guitars , I eventually discovered , were wired wrongly . Apparently it is a common problem with left-handed guitars that the parts used are from a right-handed guitar , even on the Epiphone . I have to date rewired the two old CMI guitars , and the Yamaha Pacifica using alternate parts for the controls so that they work in the correct sense and provide the degree of control adjustment enjoyed by right handed guitarist . At the same time the grounding was changed so that no current runs in the earth side(star grounding)and relevant parts were screened using the self adhesive copper tape . The result is quite enlightening , there is almost zero background noise/hum and the sound is somehow clearer.... The Yamaha also had the body routed and a new scratchplate made to move the controls away from the bridge more . The space left behind was used to fit a tube effect pre-amp which is switcheable .. I continue to do various gigs , although my band as such , is now split and the members dispersed . I have done solo gigs recently , and two piece and full band gigs with guys 'borrowed' from other bands , and also helped to run an open mike night at the Golden Fleece in High Wycombe on alternate Tuesdays for a while......... My first CD entitled 'The Unplugged Collection' has been available since Xmas 2007 . It contains mostly laid back songs , and has been described as 'an odd collection of folky , bluesey and plainly banal songs'......it was not written to be a matched set of songs , purely all the songs I felt were presentable with only me and a guitar...... If that is the worst revue I get ...I will be happy.... I continue to work on my second CD which will contain all the faster material with a bias on country rock ....and will probably be entitled something like 'A Rocky Bit More' The Christmas song which I wrote at Xmas 2007 is out on a single under Gneiss Records..............
Even more recently I experimented with backing tracks on computer , and now have done quite a few solo gigs using this technique....adopting the nickname given to me by one of my guitarist/singer friends.........Mr Smooth ...