Robyn M Ryan Biography & Facts
Robyn Rowan Hitchcock (born 3 March 1953) is an English singer-songwriter and guitarist. While primarily a vocalist and guitarist, he also plays harmonica, piano, and bass guitar. After leading the Soft Boys in the late 1970s and releasing the influential Underwater Moonlight, Hitchcock launched a prolific solo career. His musical and lyrical styles have been influenced by Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Syd Barrett, Captain Beefheart, Martin Carthy, Lou Reed, Roger McGuinn and Bryan Ferry.
Hitchcock's earliest lyrics mined a rich vein of English surrealist comic tradition and tended to depict a particular type of eccentric and sardonic English worldview. His music and performance style was originally (and remains) heavily influenced by Bob Dylan, but also by the English folk music revival of the 1960s and early 1970s, and this was soon filtered through a then-unfashionable psychedelic rock lens during the punk rock and New Wave music eras of the late 1970s and early 1980s. This combination of musical styles won Hitchcock's band of the time, The Soft Boys, a very enthusiastic if small fanbase, but an extremely frosty critical reception from the UK music press of the era. However, the Soft Boys' final album together, Underwater Moonlight, posthumously earned them a glowing reputation (particularly in America) as a major influence on bands like R.E.M..After finding a measure of success in the latter 1980s in America, Hitchcock's lyrical and musical horizons broadened further to encompass a range of approaches while still retaining a recognisably surreal, but more serious, signature style. He has recorded for two major American labels (A&M Records, then Warner Bros.) over the course of the 1980s and 1990s, and was the subject of a live performance/documentary film (Storefront Hitchcock) by major motion picture director Jonathan Demme in 1998. Since the turn of the millennium he has also finally received belated critical recognition in his home country. Despite this, mainstream success remains limited. He continues to tour and record prolifically and has earned strong critical reviews over a steady stream of album releases and live performances, and a dedicated "cult following" for his unique body of work.
The Soft Boys to the Egyptians (1972–1993)
Hitchcock was educated at Winchester College, where he was a "groovy and alternative" friend of Julia Darling. While at art school in London around 1972, Hitchcock was a member of the college band the Beetles. In 1974, he moved to Cambridge, where he did some busking, and joined a series of local bands: B.B. Blackberry and the Swelterettes, the Worst Fears, and Maureen and the Meatpackers. His next group, Dennis and the Experts, became the neo-psychedelia band The Soft Boys in 1976, recording their first EP, "Give It to the Soft Boys", at Spaceward studios, Cambridge, in 1977. After recording A Can of Bees (1979) and Underwater Moonlight (1980), the latter of which was described in Rolling Stone as a "classic" and influential on bands such as R.E.M. and The Replacements, the group broke up in 1981.In 1981, Hitchcock released his solo debut, Black Snake Diamond Röle, which included instrumental backing by several former Soft Boys. He followed it in 1982 with the generally critically maligned Groovy Decay. Following his solo acoustic album I Often Dream of Trains in 1984, he formed a new band, The Egyptians, comprising former members of the Soft Boys (Andy Metcalfe and Morris Windsor, supplemented at first by early keyboardist Roger Jackson), resulting 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". (A live album, Gotta Let This Hen Out!, was released at the end of that year.) Their popularity grew with the 1986 album Element of Light and they were subsequently signed to A&M Records in the U.S. The album Globe of Frogs, released in 1988, further expanded their reach, as the single "Balloon Man" became a college radio and MTV hit, followed in 1989 by "Madonna of the Wasps" from their Queen Elvis album. In 1989, they also teamed up with Peter Buck of R.E.M. and Peter Holsapple of The dB's, playing two gigs as Nigel and the Crosses, mostly covers.At the beginning of 1990, Hitchcock took a break from the Egyptians and A&M Records to release another solo acoustic album, Eye, then resumed with the band's Perspex Island release in 1991. 1993's Respect, influenced a great deal by his father's death, marked the last Egyptians release and the end of his association with A&M Records.
Reunions and solo career, 1994–2006
Early in 1994, after disbanding the Egyptians, Hitchcock embarked 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 guitarist Tim Keegan), and the soundtrack from the Jonathan Demme-directed concert film Storefront Hitchcock in 1998. The 1999 release Jewels for Sophia, also on Warner, 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. An album of outtakes from the Sophia sessions called A Star for Bram, released on Hitchcock's own label, followed, and his subsequent albums appeared on a variety of independent labels.
In 2000 the Italian music writer Luca Ferrari released a long interview with Hitchcock, A Middle Class Hero (Stampa Alternativa), in the form of a 96-page booklet in English and Italian accompanying a three-song CD of unreleased tracks.
In 2001 Hitchcock reunited 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. The reunion was short-lived.
The 2002 double album Robyn Sings comprised cover versions of Bob Dylan songs, including a live re-creation (performed in 1996) of Dylan's so-called 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 gift to all those attending, and an original poem of his was read by actor Alan Rickman. He continued collaborating with a series of different musicians, as on the album Spooked, which was recorded with country/folk duo (and longtime Hitchcock fans) Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. The Soft .... Discover the Robyn M Ryan popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Robyn M Ryan books.