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If it Ain’t Stiff

Tue 18 Apr 2023






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If it Ain’t Stiff

A talk and Q&A with legendary Stiff Records supremo Dave Robinson – from the label at the forefront of the punk & new wave explosion in the late 70s.

From a teenage music photographer in Dublin, to the owner of the first ever Beat Club in Ireland, Dave Robinson was intertwined with music from the beginning. He took pictures for Rave magazine at the Cavern with The Beatles, documented The Rolling Stones’ first tour of Ireland; he befriended and briefly managed Van Morrison.

He was then dropped in the deep end on his first trip to America becoming Jimi Hendrix’s Road and Tour manager with Pink Floyd, The Nice and The Move. Moving in with Jimi and Noel Reading to their London pad, he continued to tour with The Experience across America and the world until just before Jimi’s untimely death.

With a taste for the often perilous circuit that was music touring, Dave would go on to be involved in a number of major tours including but not limited to The Animals, The Young Rascals and the Vanilla Fudge. Partying and meeting characters along the way such as The Grateful Dead, Janice Joplin, The Who, Jim Morrison and The Doors.

Dave would take all of this roadside education with him on his journey into to proper artist management; something he witnessed being done very poorly for a lot of musicians. Creating a 35-strong list of pubs across London where his bands and artists (Brinsley Schwartz, Graham Parker, Nick Lowe, Dave Edmonds, Ian Dury and Elvis Costello) could play.

Dave went to build a recording studio with Jake Riviera above his favourite pub – The Hope and Anchor in Islington – where he would record artists such as Elvis Costello and Mike and the Mechanics. All of this experience would lead to Stiff Records and signings of legendary acts such as: The Damned, Motorhead, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Tracey Ullman, The Plasmatics, Jona Lewie, Ian Dury & The Blockheads, Kirsty McColl, The Box Tops, The Adverts, Lene Lovich, Shane McGowan & The Pogues, Madness and many many more…

After Stiff, Dave was installed by Chris Blackwell as president of Island Records, where he oversaw the careers of U2, Robert Palmer, Stevie Winwood, & Frankie Goes to Hollywood. He personally compiled and marketed Bob Marley’s 44 million selling LEGEND album – the biggest reggae album in the world!

He represented Rick Rubin running Def Jam Records and American Recordings outside North America working with Johnny Cash, The Black Crows, Slayer, Danzig and the Jayhawks. He settled the vicious two year litigation between Rick Rubin and Roger Ames, Chairman of PolyGram and signed American Recordings to BMG.

Dave then ran The Famous Blue Note Club and Acid Jazz Label in London helping to launch the Drum and Bass dance movement. Dave has been at the helm or in the mix of the most exciting and important musical developments and he is still active in the music industry as a consultant for various labels and projects – from Van Morrison for EMI to Gregory Isaacs for Universal.


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