Saxophonist Stan Robinson died on Sunday 9th April, just five days before what would have been his 81st birthday. He had been treated for heart arrhythmia for some time but his final illness lasted just two days. He had been playing as recently as a couple of weeks ago with Kate Williams at the Princess of Wales Sunday session in Primrose Hill.
He was born in Salford and came to London in 1959. He was at various times a member of the Tubby Hayes Big Band, the Ronnie Ross sextet, the Maynard Ferguson orchestra (for two years including a US tour). He toured with Aretha Franklin, accompanied Dizzy Gillespie, and made two tours of the US with the Charlie Watts Big Band.
This video of him playing at Frank Holder’s 91st gives the briefest of glimpses of his strong sound and his natural and clear way of working through harmonic changes:
Geoff Castle has posted this tribute:
‘Stan was a wonderful tenor player and he had a great sense of humour. He had many stories to tell, including one about decorating the first Ronnie Scott’s Club with Georgie Fame and Ronnie, just days before its opening. He featured at the club on its very first Saturday night and his quartet continued to appear regularly at the club right up until the change of ownership. Stan always spoke his mind in a very forthright way, which didn’t always go down well, but underneath the slightly abrasive surface lay a heart of pure gold, a tremendous enthusiasm and massive musical talent. His original tunes were very quirky and a pleasure to play though, sadly, he tended to hide these under a bushel and stick with the standards. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him and played with him. RIP Stan.’
The funeral will be on Wednesday 19th April at 09.45 at Mortlake Crematorium TW9 4EN.. In Sadness.
Sad news indeed.
Stan seemed never to have lost his teenage enthusiasm for playing music, which I found inspirational. I remember him telling me that he played 'Barbados' in his very first clarinet lesson because his desire to play was so strong that he'd drawn clarinet keys onto a broom handle and practised in a mirror beforehand.
Sure, he could be tricky at times, but no-one could ever say they didn't know exactly where they stood with him!
My overarching thoughts of Stan though are of his kindness and generosity. He really would give you the shirt off his back. He was my referee when I applied to music college and was really generous both with his time and with his knowledge and experience.
He had a remarkable skill for mimicking famous saxophone players and, if you could get him to do it, it was as hilarious as it was impressive.
A sad loss.
Wally Houser writes by email:
I have not known Stan for long. Only since 1953!!. We were always good friends but we have not seen much of each other over the last few years . I will greatly miss him.
Very fond memories of Stan. Remember him roaring his Rollinsesque solos in Tubby's big band and had the pleasure of working in a quartet with him a few years ago, including a CD and a week at Ronnie's. On the road or in his flat, he was great company and we used to have hilarious arguments about Jehovah's Witnesses -v- Anglicanism. Rest in peace, you great saxophonist and beautiful human being. Fr.Spike Wells
Just read the very sad news……I knew and played with Stan in his Manchester days ,a great person to have for a friend… He was Best Man at my wedding….which was at Paddington Registry office ..he insisted that we go and get a rowing boat in Regents park lake because according to his Jehovahs Witness beliefs the world was going to end at 1pm that day and the only way to save ourselves was to be on the water…needless to say nothing happened so we had a wedding breakfast of tea and cakes at a cafe in Bayswater….. R.I.P. Stan. He is no doubt up there somewhere arguing the toss with my dear late Beth who did not believe in old bearded men who lived in the sky 🙂
l lived next door to stan for a couple of years fond memories great sax player and a true gent God bless you stan I remember stan and myself making sandwich s and taking them to feed the homeless funny story one night stan offered a old guy a sandwich and he said to stan I only eat food from m and s stand face was a picture