Robbie McIntosh: biography
Born: 25th October 1957, Sutton, Surrey.
Schools: St. David's Primary School, Morden Farm Primary School, Morden Farm Middle School, Raynes Park High School.
Started playing guitar aged 10, picking out things from any records listened to at the time. Having two older sisters, their record collections became early influences: Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Spencer Davis Group, Jimi Hendrix etc. His dad's love of jazz was also a factor: Fats Waller, Django Rheinhardt, Louis Armstrong - and Mum plays the piano.
At age 13, started taking classical guitar lessons with a guy called Michael Lewin. Continued right through to Grade 8 (aged 18).
"Lightnin' Hopkins was the first blues artist that captured my imagination; I've been besotted with blues music ever since."
First band was called 70% Proof. Played original material coupled with covers of Humble Pie, The Who, Free and Stevie Wonder, amongst others. "The other guys in the band (Paul Eager, Russell Ayles and Graham Mincher) had all left school, so we used to rehearse on Sunday afternoons at the local dump works canteen. We were pretty good really."
Took A-levels at school with plans to do biology at university but failed miserably, so joined up with older Raynes Park boys Graham and Malcolm Foster in their band The Foster Brothers. Toured and recorded with them throughout 1977; the band gradually folded in early 1978.
After the Foster Bros., Robbie worked for about 6 months as a lorry driver for a builder's supply company, delivering sand, cement, bricks etc on a 3-ton lorry. Became an expert tipper. Completely out of the blue, got a call from Chris Thompson who, at the time, was the singer in Manfred Mann's Earth Band. He had an outfit called Filthy McNasty who played a lot at The Bridge House, Canning Town, The Golden Lion, Fulham, etc. Chris asked Robbie to join as lead guitar player. In November 1978 the band went to L.A. to record with Richard Perry for his Planet Record label. The name of the band was changed to Night.
The band toured in America for most of 1979 supporting The Doobie Brothers.
Night split sometime in 1980, but Chris and Robbie stayed together to form Chris Thompson and the Islands with Malcolm Foster, Wix and Mick Clews. Despite many gigs and various bouts of recording, a deal was never secured and Robbie split at the end of 1981.
Living in Kingston at the time, Robbie formed a fun band to play local pubs called Dean Martin's Dog, with Malcolm Foster, Mick Clews, Jez Wire, Rupert Black and Mike Dudley. Not surprisingly it won band name of the year in Time Out magazine.
"Even when I'd joined The Pretenders the DMD gigs continued when I could fit them in. We played a bit of everything. Good band."
Sometime in 1977/78 Robbie met and became friends with Jimmy Scott (James Honeyman-Scott). It was this friendship that led Jimmy to contact Robbie in 1982 with a view to him joining The Pretenders as an extra member to help fill out the sound of the band live. Jimmy sadly died in June '82, and Billy Bremner took over initially; but Robbie was auditioned and joined The Pretenders in September '82.
He toured extensively and recorded two albums with the band (Learning to Crawl and Get Close) before calling it a day in September '87.
Carried on doing session work through 1988, including some sessions for Paul McCartney, which led to Robbie (on Chrissie Hynde's recommendation) joining his band. He played with McCartney right through to the end of 1993, doing the two world tours plus smaller excursions, and two studio albums (Flowers in the Dirt and Off the Ground) and three live albums (Tripping the Live Fantastic, Unplugged and Paul is Live).
Is there life after McCartney? Yes, it would seem so.
Went back to doing sessions to pay the rent until around about 1998 - started to realize a dream by putting together a band of his own. "I decided to pick some of my favourite players and mates for a band that I thought would give a particular sound and edge to my songs; so I grabbed Paul Beavis, Pino Palladino, Mark Feltham and Melvin Duffy and The Robbie McIntosh Band was born. We did some gigs and recorded Emotional Bends, the debut album."
Prior to this, at his mate Douglas Adams' insistence, Robbie had recorded all his instrumental tunes. "This was a collection of compositions and arrangements that I just played for fun at home to amuse myself. Douglas insisted that I record them. This collection became the album Unsung, which was to be my second album, even though it was recorded before Emotional Bends."
So to another RMB album, Wide Screen, released June 2001. "We did a bunch of gigs after the release of Wide Screen, but owing to a certain amount of domestic upheaval (a house fire in July 2001, had to move out for 7 months), the band activity kind of fizzled out. Mark still plays with Nine Below Zero who I go and sit in with now and then. Melvin plays with Los Pacaminos as well as working with Robbie Williams, and I still do sessions and gigs with Paul and Pino so I still see a lot of the guys."
"I have a lot of musician buddies here at home who I play with fairly regularly: my little blues band The Steamer Ducks (me, Chris Lonergan, Ady Milward, Clive Ashley, Nick Gomer, Steve Mutter and Paddy Milner), and Beavis McWilson (me, Paul Beavis, Steve Wilson and Holly McIntosh, my bass playing daughter)."
"Another local band I was involved with a while ago was The Polygenes, a kind of progressive instrumental rock outfit led by cellist Chas Dickie (crazy name! crazy guy!). We made an album a few years ago which you can buy here at my shop. Good stuff! We may well get back together sometime for some gigs or maybe some recording. Chas and I were joined by Chris Lonergan (bass) and Chris Page (drums)."
"More recently I've been doing a lot of sessions, doing sporadic little tours and one-offs with Gordon Haskell, and put half the band back together (Pino and Paul) along with the legendary singer, piano and accordion player Geraint Watkins, who I got quite matey with when we worked together backing Mark Knopfler last year."
"This line-up rocks."
Occasional gigs depping for Los Pacaminos when Jamie can't do it, playing with old mates Matt, Paul, Melvin, Drew, and Jim. Regular excursions to France to play in duo with French star Diane Tell.
In tandem with this career in bands, Robbie has played with many artists in the studio as a session man. Here is a list of the ones he can remember:
Freddie King, P.G. Wodehouse, Lightnin' Hopkins, Eric Cantona, George Harrison, B.B. King, Lowell George, Ry Cooder, NRBQ, Peter Cook, Duane Allman, Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed, Ella Fitzgerald, David Hidalgo, Peter Green, Albert King, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, John Martyn, Marcel Dadi, Vin Garbutt, Tommy Cooper, David Attenborough, Michael Palin, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Joni Mitchell, Bonnie Raitt, Muddy Waters, Jim Webb, Bob Dylan, David Lindley, Randy Newman, Stephen Fry, Terry Jones, Ryan Giggs, George Best, Tony Hancock, Gerard Hoffnung, Pete Townshend, Dr. John, Frank Zappa, Esquivel, James Taylor, Steve Gadd, Jaco Pastorius, Vic & Bob, Ray Charles, Fats Waller, Claude Debussy, Eddie Lang, Lonnie Johnson, Blind Boy Fuller, Dad's Army, David Gower, Charlie Christian, The Beatles, Jimmie Vaughan, Henry Blofeld, Johnnie Guitar Watson, Nick Lowe, my Dad, Viv Stanshall, Michael Caine, Jeff Bridges, Katherine Hepburn, James Stewart, John Shuttleworth, The Simpsons, Spike Milligan, Robert Crumb, Oliver Postgate, Laurel and Hardy, Will Hay, Louis Prima, Albert Collins, Tony Benn, Percy Grainger, Larry Carlton, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Keltner, Laurens Van der Post, Michael Leunig, John Simpson, Nina Simone, Douglas Adams, Droopy, Deputy Dawg, George Formby, Jacques Tati, Joe Zawinul, Jeff Beck, Carl Perkins, Les Paul, Mose Allison, Jim Mullen, Morecambe and Wise, Leo Fender, Graham Chapman, Woody Allen, James Brown, A.E. Houseman, Billy Gibbons, Buzz Lightyear, Rowan Atkinson, Irene Handl, Cecil Parker, Groucho Marx, Captain Beefheart, Curtis Mayfield, Samuel L. Jackson, Jack Benny, Steve Martin, Jake Thackary, Eddie Izzard, T-Bone Walker, Terry Thomas, Mike Gleed, ...
Robbie is married with four children and lives in Dorset.