ROBBIE FRANCE

ROBBIE FRANCE (5 DECEMBER 1959 – 14 JANUARY 2012) WAS AN ENGLISH DRUMMER, PRODUCER, ARRANGER, JOURNALIST, MUSIC EDUCATOR, AND BROADCASTER.
France was born in Sheffield,[1] and emigrated to Australia around 1970. He studied at the National Academy of Rudimentary Drummers of Australia until 1974, under tutor Harry Lebler. At the age of fifteen, he began to teach at the Australian Academy of Music (1974–1975).
While living and travelling in Australia, France formed the jazz-fusion group, Carnival, performed at the Oz Jazz Festival, and supported John McLaughlin. He worked with Stevie Wright of the Easybeats, Marty Rhone, Ray Burgess, Tim Gaze, and most major Australian artists. He amassed over 1,000 television, radio, and advertising credits, including eight documentaries and four film scores, including Band on the Run, one of the most successful surfing films ever made.
While acting in commercials, for which he often co-wrote the music, he met David Bentley, who would become his mentor and idol. ‘It was a gas! Got a call from David’s wife, Lena, be at the Journalists’ Club at the Twelfth Night Theatre on Saturday night. That was that. So I rocked up not knowing what to expect, having heard David was a bit of a geezer, set up… he arrives, so cool man, and we just hit it off.'[citation needed] Robbie had a new outlook on life following meeting David. ‘He taught me how to look at jazz in particular under a new light. I adored playing drums with him. He encouraged me to step out of myself and actually play the darn things!’, he stated. ‘Every night… magic. Simple as that’.[citation needed] Bentley affected France in other ways. ‘ He was and is a fabulous journalist, a loving father and sublime composer.'[citation needed] France recorded and performed live with Bentley. In addition, he often spent time at the Bentley’s second home on Moreton Island. Bentley wrote ‘In A Broken Dream’ as member of Australian popstars Python Lee Jackson with Rod Stewart on vocals, which was a hit song all over the world. Twenty years later Stewart recorded a song co-written by France for the album When We Were the New Boys.
France left Australia in 1982 to return to England, where he joined Diamond Head the following year. Part of the NWOBHM movement, they performed at Castle Donington Monsters of Rock, then went on to record their third album, Canterbury. He played on the hit single “Making Music”. Despite the bitter end of Diamond Head, France had nothing but good memories of band members Sean Harris and Brian Tatler. France stated, “I was a green, rather naive kid from Brisbane who was suddenly on stage in front of 90,000 people baying for metal… they got us’, referring to the new sound of DH reflected in the recordings of Canterbury. Poorly managed and seemingly drifting between genres of the music of the time, Diamond Head imploded and split.”
It was at this point where France was noticed as an extraordinary player. He performed at the first triple headliner drum clinic with Simon Phillips & Steve White, worked with Motown UK’s C.E.O., ‘Ivan Chandler’s All Star Quintet’ alongside Andy Hamilton (Duran Duran, Wham!, Elton John, Pet Shop Boys, Tina Turner, and more.) Also in the quintet were Spike Edney, an all round brilliant musician who was famous for being the fifth member of Queen, and Mike Ashley the Portuguese percussionist. Playing at various venues around London, including Nick Rhodes’ wedding party, they were highly rated as one of the bands to see at the time.
In 1985 France toured and recorded with UFO, replacing Andy Parker. To this day Robbie has never stated his reasons for leaving the band and despite the various enquiries of gossip loving journalists, has no intention of doing so. Although Paul Gray has alluded to this, in albeit an incorrect report on his website as to why he left, France maintained his respect for the vocal ability of Phil Mogg stating, ‘Phil was a monster! He could sing all day non-stop, giving 120% of his considerable talent, go home, write more lyrics, sleep for a couple of hours and do the same the next day…and the day after. He’s a one-off’
Leaving UFO in 1986,

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