Sunday, 5 January 2014

Harry Robinson (1932 – 1996) aka Lord Rockingham’s XI




Henry MacLeod Robertson was born in Elgin, Moray, Scotland in 1932. His professional music career began in 1957 as composer and conductor for TV shows such as Six-Five Special (BBC) [1957] and Oh Boy! (ITV) [1958].



He also worked for record labels EMI and Decca, and was musical director for many artists including Craig Douglas. When Jack Good wanted a backing band to segue together the guest stars on Oh Boy! He asked Harry to put the band together.



Robinson gathered ten session musicians including Red Price and Rex Morris on tenor sax, Benny Greene and Cyril Reubens on baritone sax, Ronnie Black on double bass, Cherry Wainer on organ, Bernie Taylor and Eric Ford on guitars, and Don Storer and Reg Weller on percussion. Kenny Packwood (guitar) and Ian Frazer (piano) joined the group later. Good decided to call the house band Lord Rockingham's XI i.e. on a play on the words "rocking 'em” and they were billed as Good Presents Lord Rockingham's XI. This would later become a bone of contention but meantime the house band proved very successful playing a wall of sound with a stomping beat. They recorded "Fried Onions" b/w "The Squelch “but it failed to chart.



A second single "Hoots Mon" (based on the traditional ‘A Hundred Pipers’) was however an instant hit and became UK #1 in 1958. The first instrumental to do so and the hook line 'Hoots Mon! there's a moose loose aboot this hoose’ proved an international success. The record was one of the first rock and roll songs to feature the Hammond organ.



At the end of Oh Boy! problems arose concerning the rights to the name Lord Rockingham XI. The legal case that followed was settled out of court and the group began recording and touring. They made several records including “Wee Tom," (1959) “Ra-Ra Rockingham," (1959)"Long John ," (1959) and "Newcastle Twist" (1962), but they would never repeat the same chart success.















The group eventually disbanded to pursue their own solo careers.

Harry Robinson went on to become a very successful film composer writing dozens of UK film scores including, ‘It’s Trad, Dad! ‘(US title: Ring-A-Ding Rhythm) released in 1962.



He was also involved with many Hammer Horror film scores. He continued to work in television as an arranger, songwriter, and composer and is also credited with the string arrangement on Nick Drake's track "River Man" (1969).



On the West End stage Robinson arranged and conducted the Lionel Bart musicals Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'be (1960) and Maggie May (1964).







EMI did attempt to resurrect Lord Rockingham's XI in 1968 and released an album of contemporary covers directed by Harry Robinson called The Return of Lord Rockingham, but it failed to chart. Harry Robinson continued to work until his death in 1996.

Footnote
In rather an unusual twist Harry Robinson married model and photographer Myrtle (Ziki) Arbuthnot who inherited the Wharton Barony in 1990. She became Lady Wharton, 11th Baroness Wharton and sat in the House of Lords.



Worth a listen
What The Butler Saw EP (1958)
Lord Rockingham's Lament/ Fried Onions
Blue Train/ Lord Rockingham Meets The Monster
Wee Tom/ Lady Rockingham, I Presume? <1958)
Ra-Ra Rockingham/Farewell To Rockingham (1959)
Newcastle Twist/ Rockingham Twist (1962)

Nick Drake
River Man (1969).

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