Bob was born in Rochford, near Southend-on-Sea on 3rd June 1949. He left school at 16 and went to Southend Art School to study Graphics and whilst there he used to sing harmonies in class with fellow student, Dany Hearne. They went on to form a folk/rock band called Bronzelina Cottage, which lasted about four years. They played local pubs and folk clubs with the odd gig in London. On completion of his course, Bob got a job in London where he worked for four years in 3 separate advertising agencies as a graphic designer. He then decided to go freelance and worked in the Southend area until 1976.
It was around 1973 that Bob discovered Doo Wop / R'n'B. This changed his life and the likes of Louis Jordan replaced the likes of David Bowie on the Fish turntable. In 1974 Bob formed an acappella group, The Rock'n'Roll Cadets who were joined from time to time by boogie pianist John Denton. John introduced some Professor Longhair songs into the set, which went down really well. The Cadets were a chaotic 10 piece outfit who played quite regularly at a well known music pub called the Blue Boar. One of the members, 'Glum' used to bring the house down with a hilarious version of Ally Oop, while Bob sang lead on numbers like Blue Moon and The Book Of Love.
Around this time the 'Southend Sound' was happening. The Kursaal Flyers, Eddie & The Hot Rods and Dr Feelgood were all playing the London Pub scene. They all included local songwriter Mickey Jupp's songs in there sets. Mickey fronted an early Southend band, The Orioles then later, Legend.
Bob pestered Mickey to form a band and finally he said OK. Mickey took on Bob and three other Cadets members (Colin Maxwell, Joy Sarnie and Pete The Hat) as backing singers in the new 10 piece Mickey Jupp Band. At one of their early gigs, they turned up at a college where a strange looking group asked Mick if he wanted a support band? He said "OK, what's your name?" "The Sex Pistols" came the reply! Bob said "we were all totally shocked by their performance, they were so bad they were brilliant!" Bob played with The Mickey Jupp Band for about a year - this was his first real taste of what a proper band was like.
In 1976 Bob was told by his old Art School friend, Dany Hearne, to check out a London group that he'd seen called Rocky Sharpe and the Razors. Bob went to see the band at The Nashville in London, and was so knocked out by them that he saw the group again a week later at The Kings Club, Canvey Island. It was at this gig that he introduced himself to Den Hegarty. Unbeknown to Bob, Rocky Sharpe were about to break up.
One day soon afterwards, Bob returned from lunch to find a message from his mate Danny, written on his layout pad, which read 'Ring Den Hegarty - this could change the rest of your life!' This lead to a meeting with Den and Rita (who was in Rocky Sharpe at the time) at a flat in Clapham. The three of them sang together around a piano, and that was that - Bob was in what was to become DARTS. The rest is history. Bob stayed in the band for four and a half years accumulating 14 silver, gold and platinum discs, and some fantastic memories. As with all large bands, Darts went through the inevitable line-up changes, and Bob was one of the later casualties, leaving in 1980.
Magnet records were eager to retain Bob as a solo artist, and he released a couple of singles with them. Although nothing much happened in the UK, Bob made inroads in Scandinavia and Australia. However, Magnet Records started having a few problems, so Bob got out of his contract and ended up managing a young band from Essex called Roman Holliday. Bob looked after the band for nearly three years, achieving a lot of success in Japan and the US.
In 1988 Bob and his family emigrated to Spain where he reverted to his graphic skills for a while, until he was introduced to Geoff Britton (ex Wings drummer). They hit it off and formed a 5 piece pop band called the Sol Searchers. The band played clubs and bars and got Bob singing again.
Then out of the blue, an old friend in the UK contacted Bob offering him 6 nights in Nice at £3,500 per gig if he could reform the original Darts. Bob flew back to London and had meetings with Griff, Rita and Horace to see if they thought it possible to reform the band. Sadly, due to other business commitments, this proved a non-starter. However it made Bob think that there could be some mileage in getting a similar line-up together.
Bob decided to form DARTS II, with entirely new personnel. He spent three months auditioning in London, and at the end of this period he was really pleased with the new band. The line-up included the fantastic Chicago-born Bass singer TC Anderson (ex Chi-Lites), and one of the best sax players in the world, Mel Collins. The rest of the band were of a similar high quality. However as Bob admits himself, DARTS II were a great group of musicians, but were never going to be able to recreate that original spark and passion of the original band, although they had a pretty good go at it. The main problem was rehearsing. Two of the band were based in Wales, four in London and two in Sheffield - not exactly conducive to regular rehearsals.
Darts II stayed together for 4 years until Bob decided to call it a day in 1995 as he was suffering from serious hearing problems in his left ear. The band were really loud on stage and Bob was really worried about getting tinitus. As a result, he didn't sing at all for the next two years. Thankfully his hearing improved and he was then eager to perform once again.
Bob recognised that if he formed another large band (especially with a live drum kit blasting out behind him), it was likely that his hearing problems would flare up again. So a change in direction was needed. Bob takes up the story...
"For the past six years I've had my own duo called Electric Fish. My partner in crime is a brilliant guitarist and computer programmer called Dave Bates. On stage we sound like a five piece, and play back drums, bass, hammond, strings, whatever, through a lap-top and sing and play live guitar, harmonica and, more recently, I've started playing an Autoharp (I go through an effects unit which heavies it all up). We basically do Weddings through to pub gigs.
Having always being involved in 100% live, big line-up bands, it might appear to be strange to be involved with this set-up. But needs must, my hearing comes first and the on-stage volume is loud enough without causing problems. We include a few Darts songs; It's Raining, Boy From New York City, Duke Of Earl, Come Back My Love and Daddy Cool. The rest are covers which range from Roy Orbison to Billy Idol, T-Rex to Steppenwolf. Although I love doo-wop / r'n'b I've never been obsessed to only listen to that genre. However I have to get my fix every few weeks and play some Ruth Brown, Wynona Carr, Coasters etc. I think if you love music, it's great to be able to appreciate all styles if it's good. I also love a lot of Bluegrass/Country stuff; The Stanley Brothers, Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, Del McCoury, Alison Krauss, Union Station etc. I'm thinking about forming a four/five piece country band; me on lead vocals/autoharp plus Dobro, fiddle, double bass and possibly mandolin (note... no drums!)."
Bob is happily married to Heather and has two daughters, Scarlett and China who are both into singing and live in Wales.
booking enquiries contact:
Dave Bates & Bob Fish