Tuesday, January 2, 2024

In Memoriam-Robin Lumley and John Giblin

 [purchase Product]

Robin Lumley and John Giblin were members of Brand X at various times.  I’ve written before about Brand X, a jazz-rock fusion band probably best known for the contributions of Phil Collins (who I’ve written about, too), but the band’s membership was somewhat of a revolving door.  (And I wrote about another member, guitarist John Goodsall, for our 2021 In Memoriam theme.)  Lumley was a founding member of the band, on keyboards, and was involved from 1974-1980, with a brief hiatus in 1978, while Giblin, a bass player, was a member in 1979, although his recordings were released through 1982. 

Robin Lumley was born on January 17, 1948, in Devonport, England.  Originally a drummer, he switched to keyboards in the 1970s.  In 1972, his former neighbor, David Bowie, rang him up one day, to see if he would be interested in replacing Bowie’s ill keyboard player, Matthew Fisher from Procol Harum, starting the next day.  He was interested and joined the Spiders From Mars.  After that, Lumley worked as a studio musician and met Collins, which led to the formation of Brand X.  Lumley also became interested in music production.  His hiatus from Brand X in 1978 was to work on production projects, including Rod Argent’s Moving Home, and Bill Bruford’s Feels Good to Me, and he later produced records for Orleans, Anthony Phillips and Isotope, among others.

In the 1980s, he formed a jazz-rock band that included Rod Argent, Graeme Edge (of the Moody Blues), Morris Pert (of Brand X), and Gary Brooker (of Procol Harum). Lumley later married an Australian and moved to Australia. In 2001, he formed SETI with Graeme Edge, bassist Rob Burns, and Rod McGrath (cellist for the West Australian Symphony Orchestra).  He also composed and produced music for over 250 television and radio commercials for numerous television productions in the US, UK and Australia.

Lumley died from heart failure in Plymouth, on March 9, 2023, at the age of 75.


John Giblin was born on February 26, 1952, in Bellshill, Scotland.  He was best known as a studio musician, contributing bass to albums and performances by artists such as Peter Gabriel, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Kate Bush, Simple Minds, John Anderson, Phil Collins, Al Green, and Annie Lennox.  Giblin was best known for his mastery of the fretless bass.

As noted above, Giblin recorded with Brand X in 1979, when the band was being pushed to make more commercial music.  The surprising response to this pressure was to have two separate units record—one with bassist Percy Jones, keyboard player Peter Robinson, drummer Mike Clarke and Goodsall, and the other featuring, Lumley, Giblin, Collins and Goodsall.  The output of these two groups were released, but no improvement in commercial success was achieved, leading to a band breakup.

More recently, Giblin was playing more acoustic bass, and was involved in projects with Peter Erskine of Weather Report and Alan Pasqua of Tony Williams Lifetime. 

Giblin died of sepsis following a long illness on May 14, 2023 in Cheltenham, England, aged 71.

You can hear both men on the Brand X track in the video, “Algon (Where an Ordinary Cup of Drinking Chocolate Costs £8,000,000,000),” a title taken from a Monty Python sketch (in which the cup of chocolate only cost £4 million), from the Product album.


Sunday, December 31, 2023

In Memoriam-Chas Newby, A Beatle for Four Gigs

[purchase The Quarrymen Live in Penny Lane, featuring Chas Newby on bass and vocal]

You’re a teenage (left-handed) bass player, and a former band mate asks you to fill in on a few gigs with a cover band that had recently been on tour, because their bass player is unavailable.  Needing a bit of extra Christmas cash, Chas Newby agreed, and played four shows in England with his old friend Pete, and his fellow band members, John, Paul and George.  Chas had fun and pocketed all of £4.  But when John suggested he stay with the band for a tour in West Germany, Newby declined, figuring that he had a better chance of success in his preferred field of chemistry.

Of course, the rest is history.  Nearly two years after Newby declined Lennon’s offer, the Beatles hit it big with “Love Me Do,” featuring Paul McCartney on (left-handed) bass.

As Newby said:

To me then it was just four gigs with a different band. Music was never going to be a living for me. All of us at that time were thinking what we were going to do with our lives, some doing teaching, or science, or whatever.

I wanted to do chemistry. John, Paul and George, they just wanted to be musicians.

They had been away in Hamburg. They’d played a hell of a lot over there so they were very tight, very proficient, and they gave it some stick. But I did the four gigs and went back to my college course the week afterwards.

In fact, Newby went back to St. Helens College and continued his studies in chemistry, eventually getting his Master’s from Manchester University.  In 1971, a decade after his brief encounter with possible superstardom, he joined Triplex Safety Glass, which manufactured windscreens for trains and aircraft.  He retired in 1990 and became a math teacher. 

Further proof of his being merely a blip in Beatles’ history, Chas only had one encounter with any of the band after his four gigs (the last of which was 63 years ago today--New Year's Eve 1960--at the Casbah).  In 1962, he recounted:

I was on my way home and I pulled up at some traffic lights. There, waiting at the crossing, was George. I said hello and asked if he needed a lift. He said he was waiting for someone and that was that. Off I went.

Before his death on May 22, 2023, Newby played in a charity band, The Racketts, and in the reformed Quarrymen, which once counted John, Paul, George, and Newby’s predecessor in the Beatles, Stu, as members.