Tom Robinson Band (and Quartet)

UK, Japan and Italy tours plus Edinburgh Festival

My two years with Tom Robinson were the best of all the touring bands I played for. Tom is a very good songwriter, and this period was when he was being looked upon as more of a solo artist than a political band, especially in Italy. Steve French with the Tom Robinson Band The line-up included a number of great musicians such as Paul Harvey (guitar) and Mark Ramsden (sax) (who I worked with later on with French and Regal. Many of the songs we performed over this period were from the great album Still Loving You, as well as regular favourites such as Glad to be Gay, 2-4-6-8 Motorway, War Baby and Martin. In the picture (top l-r) are Paul Harvey (guitar), Mark Ramsden (sax), Frank (backing vocals), Tom, Steve Laurie (drums), me, (bottom l-r) Ebo Ross (backing vocals), Winston Blisset (bass) and roadie CW (who I knew from the Roy White tour). This line-up was from an LWT TV recording in the Meltdown series: normally we didn't have the backing vocals.

Touring was great: the band was always well-recieved and the tour managing straightforward. I would usually share a twin with Winston. In Japan, Sting came to a show and shook all our hands afterwards, which was a nice gesture. The Italian trips were probably the best; we got to play in some beautiful towns, and the Rome theatre Theatre de Comedie was just stunning: there we did a video recording with no audience (which was strange) (see video) and then one with: we also did a playback song for the San Remo Festival on the riveria (see video), an occasion I won't forget as Whitney Houston sang along to her track and then continued after the playback had finished, to great applause.

Perhaps the hardest thing I ever did musically was when we did the Edinburgh Festival as a trio. Tom Robinson - A Private View with Steve French Myself, Tom and Steve Laurie (with assistance from a producer, helper and sax player) played at the theatre towards the back of the Assembly Rooms, showcasing Tom's favourite songs with anecdotes etc. It's relatively easy to play to thousands of people, but when you've got 100+ people in an intense little theatre, it can be quite terrifying. On one occasion I messed up on the most difficult song we did (Noel Coward's Marvellous Party) and had to start again: fortunately I got it right second time round. Tom Robinson Edinburgh with Steve French We had the 11.00 slot and shared the dressing room with the other slots: before us were Victor and Barry (Forbes Masson and Alan Cumming before he became famous), a camp tour of the wonders of Glasgow's posh area Kelvinside; after us was the humorous Liverpudlian poet Craig Charles, who at the time was going out with (and arguing backstage with) Cathy Tyson. We were able to go around and see all the shows that year, and me and Steve drank after the show in the artists bar where we got to know Higson and Whitehouse who were there as writers for Harry Enfield's show (Loadsamoney et al), and Jim Broadbent who was with the National Theatre of Brent.

Tom's site is at With French and Regal, I later worked again with the extremely talented guitarist Paul Harvey and brilliant sax player Mark Ramsden. Here's the Tom Robinson Band - Feel So Good with an appearance on Wogan.

Tour Dates