Robert Gordon Biography

Robert Gordon was an American musician who was most known for his work as a neo-rockabilly vocalist. He was born on March 29, 1947 and passed away on October 18, 2022.

Music career 

Influences and early career 

Gordon is the son of Arlene Gordon, an administrative law judge, and Samuel Gordon, who grew up in Bethesda, Maryland, in the United States. Samuel Gordon is Gordon’s father. He came from a Jewish household. The song “Heartbreak Hotel” by Elvis Presley that was playing on the radio when he was nine years old served as a major source of motivation for him, and he made the decision to pursue a career as a rock and roll musician at such a tender age.

Gene Vincent, Jack Scott, Billy Lee Riley, Eddie Cochran, and a number of other prominent rock ‘n roll music musicians of the era were among Gordon’s primary musical influences. In 1964, when he was only 17 years old, he made his first recording with a band known as the Confidentials. On acetate phonograph recordings, The Confidentials recorded a number of songs, including “Summertime,” “Money,” and “There Is Something on Your Mind,” among others. Robert (who was known as Bob at the time) was the singer for the band.

Robert’s response to the question of how he related to the 1960s was “I didn’t.” He was not very interested in the British Invasion, but he strongly identified with soul singers such as James Brown and Otis Redding, both of whom he witnessed, along with other great R&B artists, singing at the renowned Howard Theatre in Washington, District of Columbia. Robert was a member of the National Guard stationed in Washington, District of Columbia, during the unsettling times of the late 1960s, which were characterized by rioting and antiwar demonstrations. He recalls thinking to himself, “I didn’t want to be sent to Vietnam.”

Punk rock 

In 1970, Gordon made the move to New York City, and only a few years later, he became a member of the local punk rock band known as the Tuff Darts. In 1976, the Tuff Darts recorded “All for the Love of Rock and Roll,” “Head over Heels,” and “Slash” for a compilation album called Live at CBGB’s. This CD also included the performances of a number of other local New York City bands.

In the same year, Robert had a role in Unmade Beds, a film that paid homage to Jean-Luc Godard and was done in a punk/New Wave style and was directed by an underground filmmaker named Amos Poe.

The lead vocalist of Blondie, Deborah Harry, as well as the painter Duncan Hannah, both starred in the movie.

Rockabilly revival 

Record producer Richard Gottehrer came across Robert while he was practicing with Tuff Darts one afternoon, and not long after that, the two began discussing the possibility of creating a rock & roll record. Gottehrer was taken aback by Gordon’s baritone voice and his performance of Elvis Presley’s “One Night.”  Following some discussion, Robert brought up the possibility of collaborating with the legendary guitarist Link Wray. Wray was contacted, and after some consideration, he decided to collaborate with them both. Wray would often make the observation that “Robert to me sounds a lot like the early Elvis, back when he was at Sun Records.” The end product of their partnership was the release of Robert Gordon with Link Wray on Private Stock Records in the year 1977. Following the untimely passing of Elvis Presley in August of 1977, the album began to receive attention, and the Private Stock label made an effort to promote Gordon as the heir apparent to Elvis. In 1978, Gordon and Wray collaborated on their second album for Private Stock, which was titled Fresh Fish Special. The Jordanaires, who had previously served as backing vocalists for Elvis Presley, were featured on the record, and it also included the song “Fire” by Bruce Springsteen. On the track, Springsteen can be heard playing the keyboard.

The following was part of an advertisement that appeared in the issue of Billboard magazine dated March 11, 1978: “Robert Gordon, the newest voice of rock and roll, and Link Wray, one of the most iconic guitarists in rock history, are back together! Their second album, titled FRESH FISH SPECIAL, is the follow-up to their critically acclaimed debut effort, and it’s a winner! A song about it was written by Bruce Springsteen. Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, and Jack Scott are all commemorated in it in a manner that is respectful.”

Gordon was given the opportunity to record for “Elvis’s label” in 1978 when RCA Records offered him a contract that he referred to as “a dream come true.” Chris Spedding replaced Wray as the lead guitarist for the band on the album Rock Billy Boogie, which was released by RCA Victor in February of 1979. Wray was no longer a member of the band at this time. According to Brian Kachejian, a journalist for ClassicRockHistory, the single “Rock Billy Boogie” best exemplifies Robert Gordon’s artistic direction more than any other song in the singer’s discography. [7] The next year, 1980, saw the release of Gordon’s album titled Bad Boy, which AllMusic contributor Bruce Eder regarded as “one of the best mature rockabilly albums ever produced.” Are You Gonna Be the One, which was released in 1981, was Gordon’s next and final album for RCA. Marc Jonson is the author of the song’s title tune. More than 200,000 copies of the album have been sold, making it Gordon’s best-selling release to date.   On this record, Danny Gatton was responsible for the lead guitar work, and Marshall Crenshaw was the songwriter behind the single “Someday, Someway,” which peaked at No. 76 on the Billboard charts in 1981.

In the early 1980s, Gordon went on a tour with Gatton for a short period of time. After some time, NRG Records issued a track titled “The Humbler,” which was taken from one of their performances.

Gordon went on tour with Spedding in the early 1990s, visiting countries such as Japan, Norway, Finland, the United States of America, Spain, and Sweden. A number of live tracks from this tour were eventually included on the album Born To Rock, which was released by Climate Control in 2006.

Reunion 

Gordon and the guitarist Chris Spedding rejoined in 2005 and embarked on a tour of Europe. This came after several years during which they had not collaborated. The Reunion Tour, which was published on their own Climate Control label, featured live recordings from the band’s performances in Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. Rockin’ The Paradiso is the title of a DVD that was issued by the French record label Last Call and features footage from an Amsterdam concert. In honor of the 30th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s passing, they also collaborated with the Jordanaires to make an album of Elvis songs under the title It’s Now Or Never. This album was issued on the Rykodisc label. During the year 2007, Robert Gordon embarked on a short tour of Europe, which was supported by Marco DiMaggio and his band. During that tour, Robert had a performance in Moscow, which is located in Russia. The concert was reportedly one of Robert’s manager’s favorite performances from the entire tour. During the years 2009 and 2010, Gordon went on tour with an all-star band called “The Gang They Couldn’t Hang,” which featured members such as Chris Spedding, Slim Jim Phantom, and Glen Matlock. Notable “Gang” dates included the Byron Bay Blues Festival in Australia and the Azkena Rock Festival in Spain, where Gordon and TGTCH performed in front of an audience of 20,000 alongside Kiss and Bob Dylan. Both of these festivals are located in Australia.

The album “I’m Coming Home” by Gordon was officially made available for purchase and download on June 24, 2014. He went on tour in both the United States and Europe, and on April 19, 2014, he gave a performance in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the 17th annual Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender at The Car Show event.

Acting career 

In 1982, Gordon played alongside Willem Dafoe in Kathryn Bigelow’s debut film, The Loveless. The film was a motorcycling drama set in the 1950s and was inspired by Marlon Brando’s film The Wild One. Bigelow went on to win an Academy Award for her direction of the film. This was Dafoe’s very first leading role in a motion picture. The score was well received by critics, although the majority of reviewers did not like the picture. The Loveless was not a commercial success when it was released, but it has since become a fan favorite among certain subcultures. Gordon also made a number of appearances on television, one of which was a skit in 1981 that aired on the well-known comedy show SCTV. In the skit, he performed alongside his band, which included Danny Gatton, despite the fact that he had been “inadvertently” booked on the show as the astronaut Gordon Cooper. The parody of a space shuttle launch also featured Rick Moranis as David Brinkley and Dave Thomas as Walter Cronkite. Both characters are from the Bob and Doug television show.

 

Personal life and death 

Gordon passed away on October 18, 2022, when he was 75 years old. In the years leading up to the time of his passing, he was afflicted with acute myeloid leukemia.

Discography 

Studio albums 

  • 1977 – Robert Gordon with Link Wray (Private Stock PS-2030)
  • 1978 – Fresh Fish Special (with Link Wray) (Private Stock PS-7008) – AUS #96 
  • 1979 – Rock Billy Boogie (RCA Victor AFL1-3294)
  • 1980 – Bad Boy (RCA Victor AFL1-3523)
  • 1981 – Are You Gonna Be The One (RCA Victor AFL1-3773)
  • 1994 – All for The Love of Rock ‘N’ Roll (Viceroy VIC-8014)
  • 1997 – Robert Gordon (Llist Records LLR-00792)
  • 2004 – Satisfied Mind (Jungle Records TCB-2222CD)
  • 2007 – It’s Now or Never (with Chris Spedding) (Rykodisc RLP-1915-1)
  • 2014 – I’m Coming Home (Lanark Records LNR-088)
  • 2020 – Rockabilly for Life (Cleopatra Records CLO1760)

Live albums 

  • 1979 – Live From The Paradise, Boston, MA 3/22/79 (RCA DJL1-3411; radio promo only)
  • 1996 – “The Humbler” [live] (with Danny Gatton) (NRG Records NCD-6842)
  • 1996 – King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents: Robert Gordon (recorded live 3/30/79 in Philadelphia, PA) (RCA/BMG 70170-88018-28)
  • 2005 – Wild Wild Women, Live (with Link Wray; recorded live at The Musikladen, Berlin, 1978) (Warwick/Jungle – limited to 500 copies – digitally remastered)

Compilations 

  • 1982 – Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die (RCA Victor AFL1-4380)

International releases 

  • 1989 – Robert Gordon: Live At Lone Star (New Rose NR-173, France)
  • 1989 – Robert Gordon Is Red Hot (Bear Family BCD-15446, Germany)
  • 1989 – Black Slacks (Bear Family BCD-15489, Germany)
  • 1991 – Greetings From New York City (New Rose NR-279, France)
  • 1998 – The Lost Album, Plus… (Bear Family BCD-16251, Germany)
  • 2006 – Robert Gordon & Chris Spedding: Rockin’ The Paradiso (Last Call Records 3113142, France)
  • 2007 – Real Gone Daddy-O Rarin’ To Go! (Climate Change Records – 005, Denmark)