Times Colonist (Victoria, British Columbia)
October 22, 2003 Wednesday Final Edition
SECTION: Obituaries; Robbie King;
HEADLINE: B.C. musician helped create Motown sound
Juno Award-winning Vancouver musician Robbie King died Sept. 17. As a member
of Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers, King signed-on as a charter member of
Motown Records' fabled studio staff, recording with Diana Ross and the
Supremes and other big-selling acts. As a founding member of Skylark, King's
B3 organ and piano later was central to the hit-making sound David Foster
and B.J. Cook produced with that group in the early 1970s.
A studio wizard in Vancouver's jingle factory, King also arranged the music
on numerous pop hits including records by Olivia Newton John and Terry
Jacks' hit version of Seasons in the Sun.
"Robbie was a mainstay in my Vancouver band from 1982 to1988, when Connie
and I moved to Victoria," explained veteran musician Niels Petersen. "In the
mid-1970s he got a Juno for his recording with The Hometown Band, and since
the 1980s he's been the number one freelance guy for all the great Vancouver
bands -- Hans Staymer, Powder Blues, Jim Byrnes -- Robbie played with them
all. He played with and arranged Ann Mortifee's bands in the 1980s and
recorded with Aerosmith, Motley Crew, Bryan Adams and Paul Butterfield. He
was the undisputed king of the Vancouver scene. He taught my wife Connie
LeBeau how to arrange. He always gave so freely of his talents."
"Robbie didn't care about money. He only cared about making music,"
remembered B.J. Cook. "My memory of Robbie King is of this beautiful hippie
with his head back, his mane of long hair swinging as he seduced the soul
music from his Hammond B3 organ."
Robbie King was born in Quebec in 1947. King's mother played piano in his
father's popular regional big band, Bob King and his Queens. As a baby,
Robbie was thrown through the family Cadillac's front window and badly
injured in an accident on the way home from a gig. His mother was badly
injured and his father killed in the accident.
Robbie lived for years with his mother in Vancouver's West End before moving
into the downtown Yale Hotel,Vancouver's home of the blues. King spent the
last 20 years of his life playing with everybody on the venue's fabled stage
before succumbing to throat cancer.