Rob Dickinson - Biography
If its true that happenstance determines history, we could say that Rob Dickinson became himself one quiet Studio afternoon- he had been gifted with a copy of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, so he began idly improvising melodies for them on the guitar. Rob remembers: ‘The melodies seemed to appear complete, as if downloaded on a lightbeam.”
Three of these Sonnets later figured in his record ‘Obsession’ (1992), a fusion of rock and pop in the English manner (shades here of David Byrne, David Bowie, and the Peter Gabriel of ‘Genesis’). Argentine press and audience reception was enthusiastic, so radio and television exposure followed. It didn’t seem to matter at all, that Rob’s lyrics were in English, or that his musical heritage was so overtly anglosaxon.
The genre possibilities that appeared with the Sonnets refused to go away- shortly thereafter, Rob set Poe’s ‘The Raven’ to music, this leading to a record and show, staged both in London and Buenos Aires. It also inspired director Tim Conran’s film ‘Terra’, shot in London, which in turn attracted the active interest of Peter Lord (producer to Peter Gabriel).
This ‘The Raven’ recording was presented in 1998 as part of a multidisciplinary event, created by playwright Ivan Briscoe. Sponsored by Argentina’s British Council and the City of Buenos Aires, the stage curtain opened to reveal a world peopled by dancers, actors- and Rob Dickinson in live performance. In the words of the Buenos Aires Herald review, ‘his voice appears as a fantastic resonant beast interwoven with the story, evoking abandoned castles and damp hideaways, and merging perfectly with the sad melancholy that suffuses the poem.’
Of course that’s not by any means the whole story, which could be summarized as follows: named at birth Robert Paul Dickinson, which despite sounding so English makes him Argentine. This duality, of anglosaxon tradition sounding through the melancholy of the River Plate, provides Rob’s work with a brilliance and depth hard to find in many performers.
Rob Dickinson is a trained musician and actor, shaped by different schools and places: studies and work experience in Buenos Aires, London and New York have determined his artistic identity and style. He came of age as an actor through his continued relationship with Pepe Cibrián Camboy, and went on to share stage and recording venues with prime movers of Argentine Rock. Andrés Calamaro himself performed on keyboard for one of his bands, the ‘Dickinson Power Trio’. Rob’s third record, ‘Obsession’, was so well-received that it led to Rob often appearing onstage accompanying Charly García at the Roxy, and sometime later helming the opening act for several Vox Dei concerts, at the ‘For Our Indigenous Brother’ tour at San Pedro (2011).
Today Rob is again working the lightbeam he now knows how to summon, so as to compose ‘William’s Passion’, a new Sonnets recording to serve primarily as the core of a new mixed-media show which is to include English-spoken poetry and music, even further along the path and genre made possible by his rendering of Poe’s ‘The Raven’.