Tributes to Robin Winspear, Scarborough rock star who entertained thousands for nearly 50 years

Tributes have been paid to a much-loved Scarborough musician whose passion for performing was on show at pubs across the Yorkshire Coast.

By George Buksmann
Monday, 25th January 2021, 12:06 pm
Updated Monday, 25th January 2021, 12:24 pm

Robin Winspear was a natural born talent and singer and fronted a number of bands in Scarborough, dazzling audiences in pubs and clubs with covers of popular tracks of the time, from Queen to Billy Idol.

He died earlier this month, at the age of 74.

Born in 1947 in Liverton Mines near Loftus, Robin was one of six brothers and three sisters. He moved down to Scarborough in 1974 and was the lead vocalist in numerous bands, including: Minority Soul Sound, Cry Havoc, Slack Alice, Brave New World, Locomotion, Bad Habit, and Spearmint Rock.

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Robin Winspear on stage.

He started off working in the steel works in Loftus before working as a builder’s labourer, but live music and performing was Robin's true passion which he would pour his spare time into.

"Rob started off singing in bands with Minority Soul Sound up in Loftus and then moved to Scarborough and played for Brave New World," said bandmate Roger Milner. "They were on television on Tomorrow’s World demonstrating a device used in nightclubs which cut off the sound to the amplifiers if the bands were too loud."

The two met on Scarborough's band circuit, first playing together in Cry Havoc in 1969.

Roger said: “He loved to play around Scarborough, that was in the day when more pubs were having bands and every weekend most pubs would have a live band.

Robin Winspear at the Penthouse reunion in 2009.

“He was very, very popular, if he was playing in a band people would go and see him."

Roger said Locomotion was Robin's main band from the late 1970s to the mid 1990s. Local regular venues included the Barn at Osgodby, the Railway Tavern at Hunmanby, Shades on the South Cliff and the Forge Valley Inn at Ayton. These places were usually packed out when Locomotion played and everyone knew the main attraction was Robin.

Whilst the big time might have come a-calling for Robin, “he didn't have the drive, he was just happy doing what he was doing locally,” said Roger.

His bands played hundreds of big gigs, including the Marquee Club in Soho, London whose famous Wardour Street stage has been trod by the likes of The Rolling Stones, Sex Pistols and The Police.

Robin Winspear.

Roger recalled a fond memory of his time on stage with Robin: “We went down to London for a Battle of the Bands competition and we came second in that and that was in the whole of the UK, so we were quite proud of that.

“I don’t think Robin ever realised how good he was, I mean he was just a natural born talent.

“He didn’t like rehearsing! If he could avoid it, he would, but he could copy any other artist."

Robin was very laid back and didn’t have a bad bone in his body, Roger said; he would never bad mouth anybody, and as good as he was, he was never big-headed about it.

“He would always stay behind and talk to people and sign autographs. He was so well loved and brought so much happiness to so many people. That’s why it’s such a sad loss, because he’s been doing it for nearly 50 years."

Roger said Robin's family were always very proud of him because he was the boy who left a little town and went to the big city of Scarborough.

"Of course we’d go up there and play and the whole town would turn out. After we’d finish playing up there we’d all go round to his mum's house and we’d all sit around the edge of her bed and have a natter with her.

"Rob was much loved by local live music fans, but was always approachable. He didn’t have a bad bone in his body and never spoke badly of anyone. Whatever band he was playing in the venue would be packed and encores were the norm. I was very privileged to back Rob on the drums in many of these bands, also very proud, we were great friends."

Locomotion had a reunion gig at the Three Jolly Sailors pub in Burniston in September 2017 where Robin Winspear on vocals, Roger Milner on drums, Andy Wiffen on bass, Richard Scott on guitar and Bill Scott on keyboards entertained patrons with classic hits.

"He always used to read his words, which he may have sung a thousand times, but he’d still have the words in front of him, even at the reunion he was reading the words for I Saw Her Standing There by The Beatles.

"He was a shy guy, but nobody would guess that from seeing him on stage. He didn’t need the words, but it was just his comfort blanket, that was something that always struck me about Robin.

"His legacy is that he brought so much enjoyment to so many people, although I am not sure he fully appreciated that."