Robin Hill’s still making waves 40 years on
ROBIN Hill’s musical career has spanned more than 40 years and included classical concerts with some of the world’s most prestigious orchestras to touring with rock group Deep Purple.
And to bring it right up to date, this internationally-famous classical guitarist has just had his music turned into a new dance release and has also been collaborating with English rapper Fazer.
“Yes, I suppose I am quite flexible,” says the modest maestro, back at his Bolton home between trips to America and Europe.
“But then I have eclectic taste in music myself.”
Certainly, his music teacher at Bolton School might have been tempted to take the violin away from him if she had known what lay ahead of the seven-year-old all those years ago.
The quietly-spoken musician switched from violin to guitar at the age of 10, and began his musical achievements in a pretty traditional way by meeting fellow guitarist Peter Wiltschinsky at college and forming a duo.
The successful partnership endured for 35 years, making more than 40 albums and playing everywhere from Italy, Germany and North and South America to Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Estonia.
They were regarded as one of the finest guitar duos in the world until they went their separate ways. But this represents only part of Robin Hill’s musical story.
A child of the 60s, he was much influenced by the sounds of the time, especially The Beatles and Rolling Stones.
As a result, he developed a variety of styles and branched out into playing electric guitar, as well as classical, in an unusual blend of skills.
Early in his career, he was asked to provide backing for visiting American singer Frankie Laine during an appearance at Blighty’s nightclub in Farnworth.
But his first real brush with pop music culture involved touring with a band put together by American singer Madeleine Bell, already a big name in the UK thanks to hit group Blue Mink.
Robin worked consistently as a session musician and backing guitarist, his skills catching the attention of famous rock band Deep Purple who were urgently in need of a replacement guitarist. They liked Robin and took him on tour.
“I played with them for about nine months, which was interesting,” he recalls in his understated way.
He also had a spell playing with another famous group, Jethro Tull.
During this time, he recorded at George Harrison’s house, playing George’s electronic sitar and beginning a love affair with that instrument.
He was, however, never far from his classical roots and continued as a backing musician, performing with flautist Atarah Ben Tovim, tenor Russell Watson, soprano Lesley Garrett and — before an audience of 27,000 — with operatic legend Luciano Pavarotti.
Over the years, Robin has been a prolific composer as well as producing books and definitive works on improved guitar techniques.
In more recent years he has also become a cruise ship favourite guest entertainer and is a regular on the Queen Mary.
Robin’s passion remains music in all its forms and he is always open to fresh ideas. So when a dance music producer approached him recently to record one of his pieces, Return to Isla, as a dance track linked to one of the biggest dance festivals in Europe, Tomorrowland, he was happy to help. “Tomorrowland” is released in October.
He was equally open when asked to be involved in a BBC documentary following rapper Fazer as he worked with the BBC Symphony Orchestra on the Proms. That is due for screening this month, and he has just completed a track of himself on electric guitar singing self-penned “Illegal Download Blues”, which is proving a hit on YouTube. That unusual project was filmed on Winter Hill by eldest son, Oliver, aged 16, and with younger son, Felix aged 10, playing a younger Robin.
Back for the weekend with his family, including wife Anna, Robin still enthuses abut music and the different directions in which he still wants to go.
“Paul McCartney is still playing and composing at 70 and I hope I’m like that,” he states. “All I know is that I still love music. It’s still exciting.”
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