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Potted history - the terrible facts!

Rob is, in his own words "old enough to know better, and getting older by the day". He was born too close for comfort to a Morris Dancing community in Oxfordshire, which could explain a lot.

During infancy he developed a taste for beer and an ability to play a passable impression of free form jazz on the family piano, with his fists. During his school days he extended his range of aural abuse to include recorder, violin, clarinet, flute, finally settling on guitar (only after he was told that you didn't have to play classical music if you played guitar). However, almost as soon as the first set of string had gone dull he found himself taking "classical guitar" lessons. With the guitar came the desire to make up songs, as opposed to the 30 second "symphonies" of his primary school days.

After the obligatory awful 5th form band, formed, as most are, with the sole purpose of impressing girls, things become easier to document!


Worked with Craig Jamieson on Craig's songs. Recorded in Haymarket Theatre Leicester, Neil McArthur - piano, Craig - bass, John O'Keeny - drums, Rob - guitar.


First set of own songs recorded with Rob Hundley on bass at Acorn Studio Stonesfield (later SSL home studio). 3 months in Rhode Island, played with Rufus and the Moondogs and Nick Mook's band Future.


Joined Oxford punk band Split Screens, with the Barley brothers. Auditioned (disastrously) for bass in Elvis Costello's Attractions. Having never played bass before he was shocked to find that The Attractions were nothing like the Damned (the only other band he knew on the Stiff Records).


Decided to be DJ instead!


Being a DJ became boring, tried to get a band that would play his songs. Formed, briefly, a band The Image which abused the sensitive ears of friends at village hall parties.


Couldn't find a singer so decided he'd have to sing himself. Started work with Bob Prowse, Ian Campbell and Dave Smith. The band that would, by Christmas, become Eric's Syncopated Dance Band (ESDB). Recorded demo with Terry Alderton at Tudor Studio (now demolished and replaced by an O'Neils pub) in Swindon. See the ESDB page for some quality nostalgia! ESDB MySpace


Gigged continuously with ESDB quickly gained a following. Recorded the "Hey Camilla" collection which created interest with publishers and artist management alike (Intersong).


With ESDB recorded the band's swansong "Dance Therapy - the five finger crawl" a full album. Recorded at Dave Pegg's Woodworm Studio with over dubs and final mix at Adrian Wagner's Music Suite. The collection included the trademark ESDB pop on side "A", plus more inventive and challenging pieces on side "B".


Rob moved to Banbury, ESDB "splits" without possibly realising its full potential. After a short period embarked on music for an Eric incarnation A New U. The band featured Bob Prowse and Co from ESDB plus Robert Gripper on keyboards and Barbara Thompson on vocal. A New U gigged extensively in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire. Wrote a new set for the new band, recorded demos at Fat Cat studio.


Left A New U, didn't enjoy playing with the larger band, hoped to keep association just as song writer.

Reformed ESDB for charity gigs. Started work on new set of songs for Repeal The Beating Heart.

Left "the day job" to pursue music full time. Landed job as musical director for Polygram Far East artist Tracy Huang's Second Sight album. Rob wrote 2 songs for the album, Tonight You Are found its way on to the final selection, the other A Letter To You was pipped at the post by Elton John's Sad Songs. Whilst in Singapore worked on Malaysian band The Alleycats album, guitar and arrangements.

Also, wrote for Christina Ong, one of Singapore's most popular singers. Recorded Spirits As One, a song Rob wrote especially for Christina, at Lion Studio, under the watchful eye of Johnny Herbert.


Back in England, back to the day job! Re-formed ESDB for "Live Aid" type charity gigs (beating Bob Geldolph by a number of months!). Spirits As One topped Radio Oxford's chart for 6 weeks.

Spent 6 weeks in Rhode Island during which time gets a chance to play with Berklee jazz musicians, plus write and perform with Nancy Hilton the jazz singer.


Went solo. Fed up with band politics. Recorded Quite Suddenly Last September at Dungeon studio, with Bob, Ian and Dave from ESDB.


Moved to Swindon. Discovered the Beehive. Discovered that the only way to work in Swindon is to play R&B! Lands job playing guitar in Harvey & The Rent Boys a Chicago/Urban blues band. Recorded the Not Just Not Here collection, on portastudio, with Paul Kelly.

1988 to 1991

Ran own 7 piece (and more sometimes) blues/swing band The Big Blues Delivery until the logistics of getting everyone in the same place at the same time becomes too much. A regular guest with the band is boogie woogie piano legend Bob Hall. Joined Swindon's, then premier R&B ensemble, Teddy White and The Sheep City Slickers playing keyboards (later guitar). During this time renewed acquaintance with Bob Prowse to record Les Dawson plays Herbie Hancock (1988), Pools of Light (1990) and Trial by Television (1991). Midway through 1991 approached by Dave Miller to form band that became the Cartoon Heroes. Played final Teddy White gig New Year's Eve 1991. Started working with Mick Hayes (sax) playing "Morrisey Mullen" type material. Mick is one of the first in the area to be working with sequences and backing tracks.


Cartoon Heroes, Miller - bass, Dave Kitching - drums and Paul Henry (Lonnie Donnegan, Van Morrison etc) - guitar. Worked continuously until 1999 with temporary (and semi-permanent) line up changes Dave Gregory (XTC etc) - guitar, Mel Griffin - drums, Terry Stannard (Marianne Faithful, Kokomo) - drums. Recorded demo including a re-working of Madman on the Line (from Pools of Light) which becomes the band's "theme tune". Also in '92 wrote set of songs for Christina Ong, records them with her during one of her visits from Singapore.


Wrote and recorded The Confectioners Weakness, the first major piece of work recorded at home. Marvellous contributions from both Dave Gregory and Paul Henry on guitar and Mick Hayes on sax and flute.


Heavy schedule of live work with Cartoon Heroes and Mick Hayes. Started work on the follow up to Confectioner's Weakness.


Typical Heads completed, plus live work.


Inbetweentimes, recorded in a day using pre-programmed sequences, at Pete Lamb's Music Workshop at Potterne (a quick plug for Pete!). Guest Mick Hayes.

1997 - 1998

Live work plus composition of music for school productions. Writing becomes difficult.


Writing dried up. Decided to stop all live work with the exception of jazz. Embarked on course of acupuncture with the hope of clearing writer's block.


The muse returned (and how)! Wrote and recorded the majority of The Year I Forgot Who I Was in the first four months of the year. Set up the RawTunes@TheHive acoustic songwriters club, see the RawTunes page.


Moved from free standing hard disk recorder (VS880) to ProTools, is a kid in a sweetie shop. Recorded Aural Candy (unabashed pop) in three days during August, to sell for charity. Live work with jazzers The Sunday Social Club, Swindon popsters Mr Love and Justice, blues with boogie star Ben Waters.


Recorded the majority of "Small Boy" and "In the Spirit Of Enchantment". Continued with the jazzers, blues band, deps and sessions. Did two gigs in August with Pete Fitzsimmons (upright bass) and Brendon Hamley (drums) as Aural Candy. Mostly to see if the "Small Boy" songs worked live. Went down OK!


Very bad start! PC went down - put back albums 6 mths. The double CD "Small Boy Trapped In A Room Of Broken Toys" and the instrumentatal collection "In The Sprit Of Enchantment" finally hit the streets in June. Well received - see revew pages. Immediately started on a new collection, 8 new songs by end of year things were looking up. Live work (mostly jazz and blues) getting out regularly.


New PC ready to roll! Started recording, found I sounded like I had a peg on my nose due to nasal polyps. Kept of writing and playing - 15 new songs by the end of the year plus lots of live work. By December steroids almost cleared polyps - ready to record "Unreliable Witness"


Unreliable Witness finished mid year. One of the first songs recorded 'Angry' becomes a finalist in the Unisong song competition.Formed the Revelator with Paul Henry, Brendan Hamley and Bob Loveday (acoustic based swing, country, blues, pop). Formed and started writing for auralcandy "If you can imagine The Blockheads meet Crazy Horse you'd be close" (quote).. continued to play regular jazz, sessions and solo gigs of original material.


Big year many reasons. Mid year gave up the day job to concentrate on music full time. Finalist and Honourable Mention in the 2006 Unisong song competition (Folk) for "The River". Took up part time lecturing post at Swindon College (Music). Gigged extensively - solo, with own bands and as a pick up musician for touring artists along with auralcandy rhythm section). Wrote for solo, auralcandy, friends and country artists to perform. Advised on songwriting on several musicians forums.


More of the same really! Only lectured until July wanting to concentrate on music - but walked away with the experience, new freiends and a City and Guilds diploma... Lots of live work, jazz and blues being the "bread and butter" solo and original material being the "jam"! Session and backing jobs steady. Lots of new songs. Signed licencing agreement with Makin' Trax for a dozen or so songs/tunes. So, all in all a pretty good year!


Lots of live work, jazz and blues and original material with auralcandy. Session and backing jobs steady. Put bands together for touring artists including Barry "the fish" Melton, Morgan Findlay, Rachelle Van Zanten, Anton Barbeau amongst others. In 2010 played keys on Barry's 10 date UK tour (and festival date in France) with special guests David and Linda LaFlamme from the legendary San Fransisco band 'It's a Beautiful Day'. Recorded a set of songs as "The Fakermonkeys" with young Swindon band Bodyglass, these songs stirred up interest from production/management companies but fell through when they found out how old and un-photogenic I was - the fickle end of the music business (yes, I know it's all fickle) :o)


auralcandy ceases to be a pick up band. Stable line up to play 100% original material (mainly mine). We record "Extended Playtime One" and release it on 10" vinyl - so fulfilling a dream of mine to release on record. Yes it's strange but true I've played on on other people's releases on vinyl but never my own! Got the call to play guitar and keys on "It's a beautiful day" 2011 UK tour...including another first to do one of the main stages at the Isle of Wight festival. David LaFlamme played IOW 40 years before on the bill with Jimi apparently - a poignant reminder for him.


regular shows with auralcandy promoting the "Extended Playtime One" 10" vinyl EP. Lots of new auralcandy songs plus recordings for my solo album "Flag" that has been on the back burner for two or three years. Jazz work very scarce, no tours but a handful of gigs backing Youngbloods founder Banana. By the end of the year second auralcandy EP almost fnished. Regular backing jobs at 'Lazy Sunday' gigs thoughout the year.


bad start to the year - the second auralcandy EP 'by charing cross station I lay down and slept' finally sees the light of day in May. didn't get the keys/guitar chair (dus to finincial considerations) on the "it's a beautiful Day" 2013 UK tour - very disappointed obviously. Did catch up with everyone though as auralcandy did support on a number of the dates.


gigs with auralcandy, cartoon heroes, MLJ, solo. auralcandy album 'occasional moments of clarity' released.


usual round of gigs and recording. auralcandy album 'the ballad of cheap haircut' released.


normal gigs and sessions, no solo or auralcandy albums. Did the "Febuary Album Writing Month" challenge - managed a song a day so challenge completed on Valentines day - exhausting (but fun)! Accepted the challenge to put a paragraph of James Joyce to music - what a challenge! Completely bonkers but did it!! Gigs as a sideman with touring US artists. Making music with friends tours and festivals - feels what music should be like. Looking for new avenues to explore; played keys with country band TruckStop Lizard, wrote instrumental music for sound libraries. Sat in (keys) on some great seesions in California. Started working with new band 'Experimental Blues Orchestra' - let's push the envelope !!!


normal gigs and sessions, no solo or auralcandy albums (again). Huge backlog of material to record!! A few lovely festivals in the summer with Barry (The Fish) Melton and Stephane Missri. Jam sessions in San Francisco with friends. More fun with 'Experimental Blues Orchestra', folk with MLJ....


Pretty good live recording of 'Experimental Blues Orchestra' before Coronavirus (Covid-19)lockdown....