Robyn Hitchcock

Robyn Hitchcock

Infobox Musical artist
Name = Robyn Hitchcock

Img_capt = Live @ Iron Horse., Northampton, MA 3/28/2005
Background = solo_singer
Born = birth date and age|1953|3|3
Instrument = Guitar, piano
Genre = Alternative rock
Occupation = Musician, actor
Label =
Associated_acts = Soft Boys
Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians
The Venus 3

Robyn Rowan Hitchcock (born March 3, 1953) is an English singer-songwriter and guitarist. While primarily a vocalist and guitarist, he also plays harmonica, piano and bass guitar.


Hitchcock's musical and lyrical styles have been influenced by his appreciation of Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Syd Barrett. Hitchcock's lyrics are an essential component of his work and tend to include surrealism, comedic songs, characterizations of English eccentrics and melancholy depictions of everyday life. His themes include what many psychologists view as the roots of modern neurosis - namely, death, sex and eating. (Recognising this theme, he released an EP in 2007 called "Sex, Food, Death and Tarantulas".)


Early life and recording career

Born in London, England. He began his recording career in 1976 with the Cambridge-based punk/New Wave band The Soft Boys, a local group with an interest in the odd concept of 'psychedelic punk'. After the group broke up in 1981, Hitchcock began recording as a solo artist.


Hitchcock released his solo debut, Black Snake Diamond Röle in 1981, which more or less replicated the sound of his previous band, as it featured instrumental backing by several former Soft Boys. He followed it in 1982 with the generally critically maligned Groovy Decay, a record which he would ultimately disown. ["The Rough Guide to Rock", Peter Buckley, 2003] Throughout the decade, Hitchcock swung between solo releases and group efforts with his next band. The Egyptians, comprising former members of The Soft Boys (Andy Metcalfe and Morris Windsor) and early keyboardist Roger Jackson, eventually surfaced in their 1985 debut "Fegmania!", which featured typically surrealist Hitchcock songs, such as "My Wife and My Dead Wife," and "The Man with the Lightbulb Head." Although mainstream success largely eluded them, The Egyptians achieved moderate success in the U.S. via college radio and MTV in the latter half of the 1980s and early 1990s with their singles "Balloon Man," "Madonna Of The Wasps" and "So You Think You're In Love."


During the early part of the decade, Hitchcock continued his pattern of recording solo albums--which were usually acoustic affairs like the critical success "I Often Dream of Trains" (1984) and 1990's "Eye"--between releases by the Egyptians. 1993's "Respect", influenced a great deal by his father's death, [ [, Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians: "Respect" Review, 1993] .] marked the last Egyptians release and the end of his association with A&M Records. Early in 1994, he disbanded the Egyptians before embarking on a short reunion tour with The Soft Boys. His work received a slight boost in 1995 when his back catalogue (including both solo releases and Egyptians albums) were re-packaged and re-issued in the United States by the respected Rhino Records label. For the rest of the decade he continued recording and performing as a solo artist, releasing several albums on Warner Brothers Records, such as 1996's "Moss Elixir" (which featured the contributions of violinist Deni Bonet), and the soundtrack from the Jonathan Demme-directed concert film "Storefront Hitchcock" in 1998. The 1999 release Jewels for Sophia featured cameos from Southern California-based musicians Jon Brion and Grant-Lee Phillips, both of whom often shared the stage with Hitchcock when he played Los Angeles nightclub Largo.


In 2001, Hitchcock re-united and toured with Kimberley Rew, bassist Matthew Seligman, and Morris Windsor for the Soft Boys' re-release of their best-known album, 1980's "Underwater Moonlight". The following year they recorded and released a new album "Nextdoorland" which was accompanied by a short album of outtakes, "Side Three"; however, the reunion was to be short-lived.The 2002 double album "Robyn Sings", comprised of cover versions of Bob Dylan songs, including a live recreation of Dylan's "Live at the Royal Albert Hall" 1966 concert. Hitchcock celebrated his 50th birthday in 2003 with a concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London at which his then-new solo acoustic album "Luxor" was given away as a party favour to all those attending, and an original poem of his was read by actor Alan Rickman. [ [ The Museum of Robyn Hitchcock (Official Site)] ] He continued collaborating with different musicians, as with the album "Spooked", which was recorded with country/folk duo (and longtime Hitchcock fans) Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. In 2006 "Olé! Tarantula" was released with The Venus 3, a band which consisted of longtime friends and collaborators R.E.M.'s Peter Buck and Young Fresh Fellows' frontman Scott McCaughey, as well as Ministry's Bill Rieflin. The song "'Cause It's Love (Saint Parallelogram)" was a collaboration between Robyn Hitchcock and Andy Partridge of XTC.

In 2007 he was the subject of a documentary "" directed by John Edginton, [ [ Otmoor Productions - Welcome - Robyn Hitchcock - Syd Barrett story ] ] shown on the U.S. Sundance Channel and in the UK on BBC4. “Food, sex and death are all corridors to life if you like. You need sex to get you here, you need food to keep you here and you need death to get you out and they’re the entry and exit signs.” The filmmaker eavesdrops on Hitchcock at work on his latest collection of songs with contributors including Nick Lowe, former Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, Peter Buck and Gillian Welch. The film culminates with Hitchcock and the band taking the songs on the road in America. A Live EP with The Venus 3, "Sex, Food, Death... and Tarantulas", was released in conjunction with the documentary. The film also includes candid interviews with Hitchcock, who reveals much about the source of his work: “At heart I’m a frightened angry person. That’s probably why my stuff isn’t totally insubstantial. I’m constantly, deep down inside, in a kind of rage.”

Late in 2007, Hitchcock's music was again re-packaged and re-released in the U.S., as Yep Roc Records began an extensive reissue campaign with three early solo releases and a double-CD compilation of rarities, which would be available separately or as part of a new box set release, "I Wanna Go Backwards". [ [ Pitchfork Media, Robyn Hitchcock: "I Wanna Go Backwards" Review, 2007.] ]

In 2008, that box set was followed up with "Luminous Groove" a boxset of 3 early Egyptians releases, and 2 discs of rarities.


Additionally, Hitchcock has an interest in acting, literature and art. He writes short stories, paints (often in a whimsical, surrealist style) and draws in the cartoon-strip mode. Many of Hitchcock's album covers bear his paintings or drawings, and his albums' liner notes sometimes include a printed short story. His live concerts usually include a considerable amount of story-telling, in the form of imaginative and surreal ad-libbed monologues in his lyrical style.

Hitchcock collaborated with director Jonathan Demme in 1998 for a live concert and film "Storefront Hitchcock", and later appeared in Demme's 2004 remake of "The Manchurian Candidate", in which he played double agent Laurent Tokar.

Robyn is the son of novelist Raymond Hitchcock and the brother of artist Lal Hitchcock. He is not related to Alfred Hitchcock.

Album discography

*"Black Snake Diamond Röle", 1981
*"Groovy Decay", 1982
*"I Often Dream of Trains", 1984
*"Fegmania!", 1985
*"Gotta Let This Hen Out!", 1985
*"Groovy Decoy", 1985
*"Element of Light", 1986
*"Invisible Hitchcock", 1986
*"Globe of Frogs", 1988
*"Queen Elvis", 1989
*"Eye", 1990
*"Perspex Island", 1991
*"Respect", 1993
*"The Kershaw Sessions", 1994
*"You & Oblivion", 1995
*"Gravy Deco", (a compilation of the "Groovy Decay" and "Groovy Decoy" sessions), 1995
*"Robyn Hitchcock", 1995
*"Moss Elixir", 1996
*"Mossy Liquor", 1996
*"", 1996
*"Uncorrected Personality Traits" (Rhino Records best-of compilation of solo material) , 1997
*"Live at the Cambridge Folk Festival", 1998
*"Storefront Hitchcock", 1998
*"Storefront Hitchcock L.P.", 1998
*"Jewels for Sophia", 1999
*"A Star for Bram", 2000
*"Robyn Sings", 2002
*"Luxor", 2003
*"Spooked", 2004
*"Obliteration Pie", 2005
*"This is the BBC" (live recordings), 2006
*"Olé! Tarantula", 2006
*"Sex, Food, Death... and Tarantulas" (Live EP), 2007
*"I Wanna Go Backwards" (Boxed Set of Reissues and Rarities), 2007
*"Shadow Cat" (Rarities), 2008
*"Luminous Groove" (Boxed Set of Reissues and Rarities), 2008


Further reading

* [ "Robyn Hitchcock: I wanna go Backwards"] - an article at "Crawdaddy!".
* [ "The Barrett/Hitchcock Connection"] - an article at Perfect Sound Forever.
* [ Interview] with Robyn Hitchcock with Andy Carvin in 1993.

External links

* [ The Museum of Robyn Hitchcock (official site)]
* [ The Asking Tree: Robyn Hitchcock Discography and Gigography Database]
* [ Otmoor Productions Documentary "Robyn Hitchcock: Sex, Food, Death... and Insects"]
* [ fegMANIA! - Robyn Hitchcock news and information listserv]
* [ The Glass Hotel - comprehensive site including "Glass Flesh" tribute project]

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