Singer/songwriter John Robbins has been a few places. Born in Virginia, but spent his early childhood in upstate New York. When he was 10 his family moved to Connecticut just outside New York City and from there to LaGrange, Illinois in 1966 where John attended Jr. High School and later graduate from Lyons Township High School.
Everywhere John went, he sought out the stage. At age 10, he learned the soft shoe from an old Vaudevillian and hit the stage running. By age 14 he had already performed in dozens of school shows and made his way to semi-professional theater. During his years growing up in LaGrange, John became a dedicated actor working in local amateur and professional theatrical productions. He played Shroeder in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, Harry Berlin in Luv and many other notable productions. But music remained his first love.
In the early 1970s in Illinois, John performed regularly at coffeehouses in and around LaGrange, Naperville and Oak Park Illinois. In 1971 and 1972 while still in High School, John performed with fellow musicians Jim Coman and Jay Anderson who would later work together in the late 1970s in the Hardly Middle Class band and with Jim Coman in Robbins and Coman.
After graduating from Lyons Township High School in 1972, Jimmy Coman and John Robbins took summer jobs at the Oceanic Hotel on Star Island in the Isles Of Shoals off the coast of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. As an acoustic duo, they entertained guests in a weekly variety show known as the Pelican Show, put on by the employees of the island. At the end of that summer, they went their separate ways. That might have been the end of the story . . .
John went to college but spend most of his free time acting in the local theater and running a coffeehouse at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana with college friend Patrick Olwell (now one of the world's most renowned makers of Irish flutes).
Still entranced by the theatre, in 1974 John auditioned to and got accepted to the Drama Division of the prestigious Juilliard School under the direction of John Houseman. Some of John’s classmates included Joyce Leigh Bowden, John DeLancie, Kelsey Grammar, Laura Hicks, Janet Hubert, William Hurt, Ted May, Gray Palmer, Kario Salem, Thomas G. Waites, Robin Williams and Stepahanie Zimablist (to name a few). At Juilliard, John continued writing songs and performed occasionally at Gerde’s Folk City in Greenwich Village (at the time, actors studying at Juilliard were not permitted to perform outside the school, so John had to hide this activity from the school). A year at Juilliard was enough to convince John that music, not acting was his true calling.
After leaving Juilliard John remained in the Big Apple and devoting his full energies to music. He performed regularly at Gerde’s Folk City, The Other End (aka The Bitter End), Eric's Backroom and other venues in Greenwich Village and on the upper west side. John also worked with a variety of bands in the NYC area, such as Marsha Parker and The West Side Highway Band, the Blue Unicorn and Lahoovah. Some of John’s NYC songs can be heard as bonus material on the CD Solid Ground.
In 1977, John returned to LaGrange, Illinois and teamed up with old friends Jay Anderson and Jim Coman to form the Hardly Middle Class Band along with Pat Herlehy and Mike O’Connor. HMC produced many fine recordings which are once more available on the CD HARDLY MIDDLE CLASS “Overcooked”.
Unintentionally, John and Jim Coman left Hardly Middle Class to become an acoustic duet simply named Robbins and Coman. Their partnership lasted several years and produced many fine recordings available on the CD Robbins and Coman Band. Although the Robbins and Coman Band featured both John and Jim as front men, several fine musicians worked with them during their years together. In the summer of 1981, after four years of touring together, Jimmy and John called it quites and went their separate ways.
John worked with a couple of bands after the Robbins and Coman break up, most noteably with the band Avant Rok with Pat Herlehy. However, John stopped touring full time in 1983 in order to raise a family, but has continued over the years to perform on special occasions and benefits. He lives now near Washington DC. He continues to write and record. His 1992 collection of songs Solid Ground and his 1997 collection of songs Simplicity in Confusion will both soon be available on CD.
John continues writing and recording. Collections of new material will be released soon.