My management of the Welbeck Group series comes to an end with the person who many call the bete noire of the Welbeck group- Robby Welbeck. The younger of the two Welbeck brothers, he will be the first to admit that he doesn’t share his brother Danny’s musical skills and intuitive songwriting. In fact I would say that songwriting doesn’t come naturally to Robby. And yes, he does sometimes throw tantrums (or he did when he was younger) and get stroppy with any new ventures I or Danny might be trying to get the Welbeck Group involved in, but he is an essential part of the mix of the Welbeck group. That may surprise some people. He’s not a great bass player (although his style fits in with the Welbeck group very well) and he has no great interest in furthering the cause of popular music. But every band, even the successful Welbeck Group, needs a catalyst, a counter-point, even a dark mirror.. and robby Welbeck is those things! Oh and did I mention he loves old retro synthesisers?
First you need to understand that Danny Welbeck is passionate about some things in music, just not making money or being succesful. As you may know from interviews with him, he loves the bass register and low frequency notes, and is an avid collector of both early bass synthesiser modules and experiemental electronic music, such as those by Morton Subotnik and Walter (now Wendy) Carlos. Naturally Bob Moog is Robby Welbeck’s hero!
He has become quite an expert on electronic music history and ambient music development and is planning a book on this. A million miles away from the Welbeck Group! He thinks that the influence Walter Carlos had is huge- but in the early seventies, the synthesiser and electronic music was seen as just a gimmick.
Meanwhile, Robby tends to be the one that the media love (when Alex Cooper isn’t going wild that is) because he is irreverent, opinionated and always good for a headline quote. Many times Robby has nearly brought the Welbeck Group to confrontations through “an ill-judged comment tossed out like a bone to the baying wild dogs of the music press”- and that was a Robby quote!
Robby was always the one that moved the most onstage- and therefore became the focal point for the more up-tempo songs. That was great, but I often had to warn him off carrying on that sort of behaviour post-gig. Ultimately the Welbeck Group were a serious music band, and some of Robby’s juvenile frivolity threatened to undermine the image that I and Danny Welbeck were trying to create. He could often be petulant and destructive:
But I like the bloke. He’s managed to live in his brother Danny’s shadow without becoming morose or resentful. And he has written a few really nice songs. I wouldn’t be surprised if he took time off from the Welbeck group to record some of his own songs… probably roping in Colin Cornell to help out with arranging.
In conclusion, I think Robby is great- sometimes like a happy puppy, sometimes like a moody Mastiff, but he is essential to the Welbeck Group, and therefore a joy to manage!