The world of soul and jazz- funk owes so much to Robbie Vincent, who has pioneered the good music cause for decades. During the late 1970s and through the 1980s, soul lovers were treated to one of the best radio shows of all time, Robbie Vincent's Saturday lunchtime progamme. Many also recall very fondly his legendary Sunday night show on Radio 1.
Robbie phrases such as "if it moves, funk it" became part of our vocabulary, with his music getting our "rhythm buds" going every time. He even had his own a soul satellite that used to scan the country and land in a particular location each week.
Many will recall Robbie's regular slots on Radio London, the Saturday soul show and his daily phone-in (there was no one better at daily talk shows). However, Robbie in fact started broadcasting on BBC Radio 1 in 1977, with an hour of the best in soul and disco on a Saturday evening, straight after Alan Freeman.
He became a Radio 1 regular in 1983, and his Sunday evening show is fondly remembered for bringing the very best in soul and jazz funk to the nation. It really was "the sound of Sunday Night", as the jingle claimed! During this period, not only did he play the leading soul cuts of the day, but he also brought us live concerts from up-and-coming stars of soul such as Luther Vandross and Anita Baker. He was also one of the broadcasters responsible for the rising popularity of soul music, playing sensational tracks such as Billy Griffin's 'Believe It Or Not' and Hindsight's 'Small Change', which gained much needed airplay. Such artists are too little heard in today's more commercialised radio. Sadly the show came to an end in 1989.
Robbie not only
played the best, but interviewed them too: Roy Ayers, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Rick James, The Crusaders and so many, many more. Beyond hosting some of the very best soul shows of all times, Robbie promoted numerous artists and virtually single-handeldly changed the face of soul and jazz funk in the UK. In the early 80s, listeners would be treated to amazing jazz
funk recordings such as Bob James' 'Sign of the Times', George Duke's 'Brazilian Love Affair' and Rodney Franklin's 'The Groove'; and gems from artists such as Maze (whom he introduced to the UK), Kashif, Evelyn 'Champagne' King and Billy Griffin formed the sensational soul selection we enjoyed each week.
Even his phone-in show listeners were treated to some top jazz-funk. His earlier shows kicked off with Ronnie Foster's 'Argentina', an amazing track which is rarely if ever played nowadays. When he moved to the lunchtimes, he introduced his shows with another gem, 'Friends and Strangers' by Dave Grusin.
The Grusin Jap-jazz track appeared on the brilliant Mastercuts series, as part of 'Classic Jazz-Funk Volume 6'. But Robbie fans will be more interested in Volume 5, in which we were treated to 12 jazz funk gems which Robbie "carefully selected so that only the best reach the turntable" (in Robbie's own words). Robbie's incredible selections included top tracks such as 'Grand Prix' by Fuse One, 'Sausalito' by Grover Washington Jr., and 'Countdown (Captain Fingers)' by Lee Ritenour. Sadly this collection, like the man himself, is in scarce supply these days.
Robbie moved on from
Radio London, leaving not long before the powers-that-be decided to remove the soul from the station and re-branded it as something completely anonymous. When Robbie's Radio 1 show also came to an end, he spent some time at Kiss FM before moving to London's Jazz FM, where he established another regular Sunday slot, this time in the mornings. As Jazz FM became JFM, then went back to Jazz FM, Robbie became the regular early morning man, and we were fortunate to have a daily dose of his inimitable brand of broadcasting.
But somehow the station seemed to have little idea of what it was, and it felt as though the music Robbie played was restrained by the station management. We heard less of his fantastic mix of hard soul, up-front jazz and raw funk gems, and more of the smooth jazz and commercial tracks which seemed to pander to the station's money men. Robbie decided to move on, and since his departure the station has too, becoming 'Smooth Radio', playing the same old same old mix of music as just about everyone else. But...
UPDATE - October 2008:
We, like so many of Robbie's fans, were pleased to learn that Robbie Vincent was to return to our airwaves.
He now has a fantastic show on Jazz FM
every Sunday morning between 10am and 1pm.
Thanks to all those who supported the Campaign To Bring Back Robbie! Well done Jazz FM for a superb new line-up.