Main menu


Rockabilly-Revivalist Singer Robert Gordon dies at 75

featured image

Robert Gordon, one of rockabilly’s earliest revivalists and a familiar presence in the 1970s New York punk rock scene, died Tuesday at the age of 75. Variation. The cause of death was not specified, although his family recently launched a GoFundMe campaign to help with his battle with acute myeloid leukemia.

“Cleopatra Records wishes to offer our deepest condolences to her family and friends. We loved working with Robert and will miss his strong baritone vocals and focused dedication to his music,” wrote VP of record Matt Green.

Gordon’s latest album “Hellafied”, which he also collaborates with with British guitarist Chris Spedding, will be released by the record label on 25 November.

With his extended DA haircut and trend towards 1950s outfits, it would be easy to think of Gordon as a “Happy Days” style throwback to the 1970s. But with a deeply resounding and romantic voice, curatorial precision, and excellent taste in guitarist collaborators such as Spedding, Link Wray and Danny Gatton, Gordon was unique among neo-rockabilly resurgents. His work predates Brian Setzer’s Stray Cats, whose adopted sound topped the charts in the early 1980s.

Born on March 29, 1947, in Bethesda, Maryland, Gordon was a voracious radio aficionado and record aficionado who loved Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and, of course, Elvis Presley. After singing in various local bands such as the Confidentials and the Newports in his youth, Gordon joined the National Guard to avoid the Vietnam draft, got married at age 19, and had two children. By 1970, Gordon and his family had moved to New York to open a clothing boutique, but turned his focus to the city’s booming punk scene when the likes of Blondie, Television and the Ramones began attacking CBGB. Gordon became part of the NYC pop-punk band Tuff Darts, and in 1976 he recorded an episode of “Live at CBGB” with Atlantic label, singing words like “I’d rather slit my wrist and slit my throat than spend the night.” with you”, on “Slash”.

“I was always doing the rockabilly thing that seemed to drive people away, but I was an angry young man,” Gordon told this writer in 2014. “I broke up with my first wife and punk worked for me. But I wasn’t much into punk. I miss singing those old songs.”

Richard Gottehrer, a producer/songwriter from famed Brill Building responsible for hits like “My Boyfriend’s Back” and “I Want Candy,” convinced Gordon to return when he heard Tuff Darts had covered Presley’s “One Night.” to get to his roots and make a rock & roll album. Gordon split Tuff Darts, hooked up with Gottehrer, and convinced original rockabilly legend Link Wray to record with them. The team debuted in 1977 with “Robert Gordon with Link Wray” and soon followed by an album featuring not only Elvis Presley’s background vocalists, the Jordanaires, but also Bruce Springsteen, who contributed the song “Fire” to the sessions. continued with “Fresh Fish Special”. (later a hit for the Pointer Sisters) and playing keyboards on the go.

“Bruce used to hang out on the fourth floor walker when I broke up with my wife,” Gordon told this writer. “We became close friends. If the Pointer Sisters hadn’t come with their version of ‘Fire,’ we might have had something there.”

Shortly after the release of the critically acclaimed “Fresh Fish Special”, he was signed to Gordon Presley’s esteemed RCA label and made his debut in 1979 with the flamboyant “Rock Billy Boogie” and then “Bad Boy”. “Gottehrer was instrumental in connecting me first with Link and then with this cat I heard about in London. [Chris] Spedding,” said Gordon. “Gottehrer got things done. He got Spedding a green card and was instrumental in getting me signed to RCA.”

For Firebrand guitarist Danny Gatton and RCA, Gordon shifted some of his emphasis from rockabilly to pop, R&B and country for 1981’s “Are You Gonna Be the One” and MTV’s hit hit single “Someday, Someway”. popular pop hero, Marshall Crenshaw. Shortly after the release of this album, Gordon contributed songs to the soundtrack of Kathryn Bigelow’s directorial debut, the low-budget movie “The Loveless.”

After parting ways with RCA, Gordon became successful for record labels such as Viceroy (“All for The Love of Rock ‘N’ Roll” in 1994), Jungle (“Satisfied Mind” in 2004), Rykodisc (in 2007), and successful rockabilly and He continued to record blues-based albums. Elvis Presley pays tribute to “It’s Now or Never” with Spedding, Lanark (2014’s “I’m Come Home”) and Cleopatra for the aptly titled “Rockabilly for Life” studio recording for 2020.

Gordon was proud of the making of his more recent records. “It’s pretty raw, but also pretty clean,” he told this author, “unlike a lot of so-called rockabilly things that look like garbage.”

To that end, Gordon’s upcoming album “Hellafied” with Spedding and his longtime collaborator Albert Bouchard, ex-drummer of Blue Oyster Cult, will only feature new original songs by the singer (“One Day Left”) and a few songs co-authored with Bouchard. contains. and Mark Barkan.