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Steve Harrison ‘Rob Collins’ interview with Matt Mead for www.gigslutz.co.uk

Rob Collins tragically died 25 years ago this year…

When mentioning Hammond organ players, names that roll off the tongue as being in the legendary category might include Booker T Jones, Ian McLagan and Jimmy Smith, to name but a few in a long line who have taken up the white and black whirling keys. However, there is one name that might not feature in many peoples lists that is all too easily forgotten but has provided a definitive soundtrack to a generation of teenagers in the early 90’s plus I’m sure new fans are constantly finding his timelessly created music.

That name is Rob Collins, a key player and keyboard player in the 5 headed beast that is The Charlatans, the band formed in the late 80’s and have gone onto phenomenal success around the world. But that success would not have been as evident would it not have been for the seriously talented Collins. Heralding from the small town of Rowley Regis in Staffordshire, Collins was not your typical pop/rock star, he showed total commitment to his instrument and was vital to the success of The Charlatans between 1990 up until Collins untimely death on 22 July 1996 where songs like The Only One I Know, Then, I Can’t Even be Bothered, Weirdo, Just lookin’, One To Another and North Country Boy propelled the band to lofty chart heights and festival headlining status.

A close friend of Rob’s, who wishes to remain anonymous, once said about his playing ‘It’s that total abandonment, just losing himself in it, that sense of being in the moment, anything could happen, he’s completely emotionally naked, putting himself out there.’ That was it completely about Rob, forget the time in prison, you can read that story elsewhere, he lived in the moment whether it be in the studio or on stage, it was total devotion to his craft that made him stand out. A clear and stark example of this is the performance of Indian Rope from Reading Festival 1991. There are a multitude of performances I could have picked, but this is a pinnacle. You can just feel in the character of his playing that Collins is searching, probing for that deep sound from the organ, there’s no substitute for pure, unadulterated passion and Collins gave that in droves.

I had the pleasure of speaking to a couple of people who knew the great man, Jon Baker, original guitarist with The Charlatans and former manager of The Charlatans plus the man who signed The Charlatans to his Dead Dead Good label Steve Harrison. I hope you enjoy these recollections as this month marks the 25th Anniversary of Rob’s tragic passing.

Do you remember the first time you saw Rob?

Steve Harrison: Not specifically, but I do recall him have a moustache, which really did take me back. It wasn’t a particularly good look back in the day!

Jon Baker: Whilst I was doing the rounds playing with various 60s garage bands our paths would cross at local Indie nights around the Midlands so we were aware of each other and our bands. Yes, we saw each other’s bands, By design and accident.

Did you see Rob before you knew him?

SH: No he was introduced to me by Martin Blunt, who I had previously met at a gig of The Prisoners.

What was Rob like as a person when you first met him?

SH: Polite. Very quiet. He listened a lot, absorbed a great deal, and gave it all due consideration. Very bright.

JB: I would say quite reserved. At first. When we got to know each other, it became apparent the we both like a giggle and got into various scraps and trouble together.

Had you played with a Hammond organ player before Rob?

JB: Yes, due to the 60s inspired garage bands. They were all over the place in the midlands garage scene.

What was it that struck you about Rob’s playing?

SH: His aggression. A defined style inspired by the likes of Jon Lord, Brian Auger and Ian McLagan. He also liked the Stranglers and obviously their keyboard player Dave Greenfield

Essentially Rob was an out and out Hammond Organ player, and I remember well when he progressed from his first Hammond X5 which was almost practical and portable to his first B3… then he truly began to shine, and we also needed a roadie!

JB: The fact that he knew his instrument well and how to use it. When to push it in the right places and when to back off.

Rob in his Rock n Roll pomp…

Was he fun to be around?

JB: Simple, yes. Always a laugh and up for being naughty.

SH: Yes. Rob was one of the funniest people that I have ever known. He was brutally fun, and enjoyed compromising individuals through his banter. I can see him now, knowingly creating havoc, and indeed intimidating certain individuals as his reputation grew. He had a bunch of ‘Rob’ catch-phrases, and an incredible ‘naughty schoolboy’ mentality, and was the ultimate wind-up merchant. That said he selected who was in his circle.

Was he a private man around his personal life?

SH: Rob had an incredibly ordinary background. He was already getting married when the line-up was changing. I think Tim Burgess was a really late guest at the wedding and I virtually dragged him along, completely unprepared whilst we were otherwise suited and booted.

The two lifestyles appeared increasingly incompatible and the day following his death was the day that his divorce would have been settled. He was excited about his new life with his new girl.

JB: I would probably say yes, but that could apply to anyone in a band. When you’re working you are on it full time, so when home you switch off for a few days. Keep a bit to yourself.

Was he good at constructing songs? Do you have any specific songs that you can pinpoint where Rob helped to construct a song?

SH: Rob was the craftsman in The Charlatans, he was also the catalyst. Rob was at the core of the band, and his early contributions are a testament to the staying power of the band… without whom and all that.

Martin Blunt was the style guru and the one alongside me who put the band together. Whilst Martin made references to a very cool albeit limited platter. ‘Hush’… ‘The Only One I Know’. ‘Indian Rope Man’… ‘Indian Rope’, then Rob would deliver the song. Sproston Green was written with me playing drums in Wednesbury with my hands, as it was easier than using sticks. I vividly remember him pulling together the likes of ‘Easy Life’, and ‘One To Another’.

Rob was the inspiration to most of the big songs of the Charlatans as I recall. The circle was completed by a pop star in waiting in Tim Burgess.

JB: Yes, but to pinpoint…. quite a few years ago. I think in the early days, 5 young men in a room, making magic happen. Just letting a vibe run and see where it ended up.

He would play like he meant it didn’t he?

JB: Like I say earlier, he knew how to use his instrument and he became one with it.

SH: Yup, and on his terms.

He wasn’t a rock star so to speak, he was more concerned with the sound he would get from his instruments?

JB: No not a rock star. Yes, concerned about his sound but also the band sound as a whole.

SH: He was a reluctant Rock Star. I would spend significant time with Rob on our own. Quiet time going for walks, whilst on tour. Enjoying Chips, Peas and Curry sauce at the Castle Hill Chippy in Northwich. He had dark times. We talked a lot. He found it difficult to come to terms with being a Rock n Roll star. I don’t particularly think it was on his list of jobs as a youngster. He found it hard to reconcile why people were interested in his opinions, and he was less than inclined to share them. Being in a band is what he did, and he recognised that he had a gift for playing the Hammond Organ really well, writing songs, writing melodies, eventually looking the part… he looked like Jimmy Page. I had to work hard to get the best out of the Stuart Maconie piece for Select Magazine following him coming out of prison. On reflection Rob did really well. We got him in the right zone.

Do you have any favourite memories of Rob in a concert setting?

JB: No particular memory, it was long time ago, but remember looking over to him when we played the Royal Albert Hall and he had a big stupid grin on his face. Happy boy.

No, but conversely my abiding memory was a sense of overwhelming loss when the band played at the Manchester Evening News Arena. I was inconsolable, and I believe it was either Rob Ballentine or Andy Redhead of SJM Concerts that stayed with me at this time, until I got my shit together.

How about in the studio, any stand out memories you can elaborate on?

SH: Steve Hillage getting sacked whilst working on the 4th album, but I think as Hooky keeps telling me… keep some stories for this long-awaited book of mine.

What is your abiding memory of Rob?

JB: Well, I think we only had about 3/4 years together but, in that time, when you spend 24/7 together you get to know everyone in the band pretty well.

Rob was conscientious, intelligent, knew what he wanted, how to play but above all that, he was a great person who was always up for some fun and never take life to serious and anyone who was lucky enough to spend time with him would have seen that.

SH: He was kind. He cared. He was Dangerous. He was Funny. Rob was a good friend to me and my family. We never once had a crossed word. His Dad once told me that I was the only person that could raise my voice to Robert, without him flying off the handle I was on his passport as first contact. I got the calls.

I consider him and his approach about stuff lots, and I find myself smiling a great deal. One of my finest achievements in life would be as manager and friend of Robert James Collins.

Steve is presently finishing his long awaited book “Here Are The Young Men… a life in Music” published by Pomona in 2022

#RobCollins #DeadDeadGoodRecords #TheCharlatans #Madchester

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Chloe Peplow Signs to Reading FC!

“Super Excited… Super Happy to be here…”

Another terrific move for another DDG client… we are thrilled to have negotiated, concluded and announced a new deal for Chloe, who heads to Reading FC for the new season…

Reading will be Chloe’s 4th WSL club… following Birmingham City, Brighton and Hove Albion and Tottenham Hotspur

Chloe still only twenty-two years old and part of the England U23 set-up, made her WSL debut at just sixteen, whilst at Birmingham City FC and appeared in the 2017 FA Cup Final v Manchester City.

With over thirty England Youth international caps and a Bronze Medal at the 2018 FIFA U20 World Cup, she has already achieved and delivered soooo much…

All WSL games will be played at the

Steve Harrison of DDG “Chloe indicated that Reading would be a personal target club as she always felt they played in a way that would suit her style. Fast forward to a number of conversations later, then we were in a position to meet with Kelly Chambers, and there was a natural coming together…”

Inspired by Fara Williams MBE, Chloe is a composed player, who loves to get on the ball, box to box

A perfect time to join the Royals, as the team prepares to move into its brand new Bearwood Training facility, and has confirmed that all home games will be played at the Madejski Stadium in 2021/22.

Exciting times ahead… CONGRATULATIONS Chloe!

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Sarah Mayling signs to Aston Villa

UTV

We are pleased to have concluded the new deal for Villa fan Sarah Mayling after a period with across-city rivals Birmingham City following her academy days at the Villa.

The Holte End… where Sarah Mayling grew-up with her Dad

Sarah spoke to the Villa media team with obvious enthusiasm as a season ticker-holder in the Holte End, and reflected on her time with Blues in a positive way:

“The experiences I’ve had, highs and lows, have made me a better person and ultimately a better player,” she admitted.

“Hopefully I can take those experiences and bring them back here to help the team achieve good things this season.

“I want to achieve the highest things in the game.

“I know I’ve got a lot to improve on and I feel like here is the best place for me to do that.”

Mayling couldn’t contain her enthusiasm when looking ahead to the start of pre-season and 2021/22 as a whole, admitting it feels like she’s “coming home”.

I’m excited. I’m a Villa fan. I feel like I’m coming home,” she added.

“I grew up at this Club. It will take a while to sink in, but my heart’s at this Club and I can’t wait to get started.”

Once a Villain and all that…

Steve Harrison of DDG ‘ there were a number of interested clubs from within the WSL‘… ‘however there is no no truth in the rumour that a season ticket in the Holte End swayed the deal!’

‘A great move for Sarah, but I believe a truly exceptional move for Villa who really have got a player whose heart and soul is engrained within the club… a talisman of sorts…’

Congratulations Sarah!

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Marie Hourihan – our long standing client and serial winner!

We thought it was about time to reflect of Marie’s period with DDG.

A few rather impressive statistics here from back in the day when she joined the DDG family as our first Women’s Professional Player…

First, we look at her trophy cabinet including this season’s ‘Taca de Portugal‘… a first for SC Braga, following last season’s Champions league

SC Braga – 🏆

Brighton and Hove Albion FC – 🏆

Manchester City FC – 🏆🏆🏆

Chelsea FC – 🏆🏆

Birmingham City FC – 🏆

Republic of Ireland Number One

24 Republic of Ireland International Caps – ⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽

Manchester City Champions

Good times at Manchester City winning WSL, FA Cup and Conti Cup

In action this season as SC Braga Number One

Marie has represented four clubs in the Champions League… Birmingham City, Chelsea, Manchester City and SC Braga ⚽⚽⚽⚽

We look forward to the next chapter in Marie’s outstanding career…

#TeamDDG

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Claudia Walker Signs to West Ham United as the new Number 9!

The coveted Number 9 of the East London Giants is Claudia’s…

We are absolutely thrilled to have concluded the new deal for Claudia Walker to West Ham United FC in the Women’s Super League

Looking content at the dedicated women’s training ground in Romford…

Claudia has been a client of DDG since her time at Everton FC, and we handled her move to Birmingham City and then this life changing move to the East London giants… both in terms of location, but the level of the deal and its implications for her future, and the expectancy levels going forward which we believe will offer further opportunities with the England national team where Claudia has played at U17, U19 and U23 levels…

Steve Harrison: “the level of interest in Claudia was astonishing, but in many ways this merely reflected a personal outstanding season with a struggling Blues team which lead her to the leading English born goal scorer in the WSL“… “We attracted a number of offers from across the top tier in England, Scotland and Europe and the USA

Having spoken at length with West Ham United, and being hugely impressed with the club’s new manager, and facilities, then there was a natural synergy developing for the Tamworth born Striker.

The East London club were blown away by Claudia’s performances against the Hammers last season, including a stand-out goal, and had already established Claudia as its priority signing for the new season.

Claudia is already settled in her new home in London, and is totally immersed in all things Ikea and no doubt learning the words to the WHU anthem “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”

We luck forward to supporting the next stage of Claudia’s career and our trips to East London.

Congratulations Claudia!

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A Big DDG Welcome to Ellie!

The latest player to join the growing DDG family is Peamount United Striker Eleanor Ryan-Doyle.

The Dublin based Striker has been part of the club since a youngster, and come through the ranks successfully attaining international caps, winning the Irish National League and competing in the UEFA Champions League.

Ellie played many games with DDG’s own Bundesliga striker and Peamount legend Amber Barrett in what was an incredible and dynamic pairing which delivered so many goals back in the day.

Ellie is the current leading scorer in the Irish Women’s National League (WNL) with Peamount United leading the pack again for the third consecutive season.

Ellie was recently awarded the SSE Airtricity WNL “Player of the Month” award for May as the side continues its unbeaten run.

International at U15, U16, U17, U19 levels, and appearances in the Taiwan and Naples World Student Games lead to Ellie being called up to the Republic of Ireland senior camps in 2019… an obvious positive trajectory going-forward.

Subsequent WNL winning medals in 2019, 2020, and a second Cup winning medal in 2020, would suggest that she is headed in the right direction for a realisation of her dream to represent her country.

Whilst pleased to receive the recent ‘Player of the Month’ award, Ellie was keen to highlight those around her to Irish football publication “The 42”, stressing the fact that it’s a team effort and that these plaudits must be shared…

“A refreshing attitude” says DDG Director Steve Harrison.

‘Any elite athlete needs to have an ego, aspirations, and ambition but it is always critical to keep a lid on these emotions and understand the dynamic that is team spirit and the collective sum of the parts being as important as the individual”.

“It is reassuring to see any player finding time to associate personal gains by embracing the collective of the team. It really is in the spirit of DDG, and I believe we will be a natural and obvious home for Ellie, and we all look forward to being part of her success in the future.’’

Final words from Ellie:

“I am delighted to be part of DDG, and I can’t wait to start working with Steve and the rest of the team, to get the best of myself as a footballer”

Welcome to the Family Ellie!

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Dead Dead Good at the infamous Stone Roses ‘Spike Island’ Show

Flares, Madchester and Acid House… back to 1989

Soooo… if you ever needed a reason to where your DDG T.Shirt with pride, now is the time as nostalgia takes hold and images of the legendary DDG T.Shirts are all across the media, associated with the infamous Stone Roses show at Spike Island in Cheshire, when flared jeans were de rigueur as was Acid House music, the Hacienda nightclub, and all things Madchester… you really had to be there!

#Madchester #AcidHouse #SpikeIsland #Hacienda #Manchester #DeadDeadGood

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JJ makes it as Cover Star for the newly launched Rotherham United kit from Puma!

“The Miller Men” official ad campaign….

Looking good JJ… and what better time to take on the mantle as the Rotherham United ‘cover star’, having just signed a new three-year deal whilst reputed £ seven figure offers had been rejected from England and Europe!

An impressive European trip with the Republic of Ireland U21s in Marbella has seen Joshua Kayode return for a couple of weeks downtime, which included a visit to DDG HQ, ahead of the new season build-up and all that famed Millers running regime!

Good Luck with the new season Josh… so good they named him thrice… even in this one feature!

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New Merchandise from DDG… the legend continues

“Northern”

The Legend continues with the new releases ‘Northern’ with a nod to our history and longstanding support of a certain club from Manchester… and our home in Didsbury M21 and original home in Northwich CW9

“1989”

And a classic target here with the date that it all started back in 1989…

All merchandise is available from www.customslipmats.co.uk/store/DDG

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New Deal follows promotion for Amber!!!

Winner… certainly feels like a DNA thing

What an incredible season for Donegal’s Amber Barrett!

An unbeaten run in the Bundesliga 2 with a dozen goals for Amber, saw an unbeated FC Koln lift the Trophy and a return to the promised land of Bundesliga 1!

With a return of the crowds, some incredibly exciting opposition including Bayern Munich, Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayern 04 Levekussen, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, VfL Wolfsburg the 2021/22 season is looking bright… and some.

The iconic FC Koln badge…

The reward has been a new improved and extended contract for Amber at FC Koln, negotiated by DDG which presents Amber with a terrific opportunity to prove herself at the very highest level in Europe.

International duties…

Steve Harrison of Dead Dead Good Management commented ‘It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Amber in such difficult times as the pandemic…’

‘We hit is off immediately and work really closely with regular weekly calls, facetime and texts’… ‘exceptional times make for exceptional effort and Facetime and WhatsApp have been an absolute blessing’

‘Amber set and realised her own personal targets this season which is especially rewarding. A winners medal, goals into double figures, and a new contract with Koln to the top table in German women’s football… not half bad in any players career stats!’

Our association back home in Ireland has not been forgotten with Amber attracting both commercial and ambassadorial charitable roles.

Harrison – ‘Amber’s willingness to accomodate fans, and especially youngsters back home is nothing short of inspirational, and she continues to do so much for the greater good in the sports community’… ‘ I believe her to be exceptional’.

We thank Nuance and Spar (Ireland) for its continued support as well as Puma.

In the typically understated words of Amber…

“I’m delighted and proud to extend my stay with FC Koln, every team needs some Irish folk hanging around”

#Effzeh #TeamDDG #AmberBarrett