Caught by the River

Caught by the Reaper – Rob Partridge

28th November 2008

Tony Crean pays tribute to Rob Partridge, his dear friend and all round good guy, who passed away this week;

Rob Partridge – A Good Man

We all lost a friend this week when Rob Partridge finally finished his quietly epic battle with cancer on Wednesday morning 26th November.

Rob was a man who loved music and loved people, and he loved the way that when you mixed them you got a special kind of magic.Even if you never knew him, Rob probably touched your soul through the music he shared with the world.

In the many conversations, emails and texts since wednesday the word ‘legend’ keeps coming up, he had that status as a press officer and manager in the world of music, and he was that and so much more. I’ve collected together some of the many words said by many people and added a few of my own, so apologies if the sampling is a bit rough.

From working for Melody Maker in the seventies (check out some of his writing at ‘Rocks Back Pages‘),
to running the Island Records press office, and setting up London-based music PR and artist management company Coalition Group, Rob was one of the unsung heroes in the music business.
As head of press at Island, Rob worked with Bob Marley & The Wailers, U2, Grace Jones, Kid Creole & The Coconuts, Run-DMC, NWA, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Robert Palmer, Steve Winwood, the B-52’s and Tom Waits.

He later set up Coalition, who have one of the best rosters of heartfelt, soulful artists you could ever imagine. Past and present clients include Tom Waits, The Verve, The Strokes, The Libertines, Franz Ferdinand, Marianne Faithfull, The Zutons, Kings Of Leon, Glasvegas, The Streets, The View, Bloc Party, Fionn Regan, Amadou & Mariam and Noah and the Whale. Not a bad line up.

Rob was all about enthusiasm, instinct, modesty and generosity and he was a good humoured adviser to artists, bands and managers, always finding time to explain the workings of the business and to help make things happen. One of the first times we spoke many years ago, when we had a daft idea to put together an album in one week, I mentioned how Toots and the Maytals had recorded a live album on a Saturday and released it the next Monday, he just said ‘I can help you do that, I worked on that record’ and he made me believe that anything was possible. And he made sure it happened.

That was Rob really, a catalyst, a magician, a true merlin and like the legendary wizard he’d usually been there and done it already, but he was always willing to lend you a wave of his wand.

Looking at my scruffy diary I see that last time we met up two weeks ago I’d filled every spare space with scribbles of the insights, thoughts and advice that he poured out on everything from digital futures to the Island records 50th anniversary, and that was before we’d talked about football, politics and him reaching his latest life target of seeing a black man elected president of the USA.
I gave him a copy of the new Soul Jazz book on Sound Systems (he was a passionate supporter of the label and the shop), he gave me a copy of the new Mavis Staples album. Every time we met he left me inspired by his energy and humour, even the one time he let it show how much pain he was in he still made me laugh.

He is survived by his lovely wife Tina, who along with his great team at Coalition gave him the support he needed to be so good to everyone. His magic touched us all and lives on.

and I bet by now he’s got Marley in a QPR shirt.

Love, peace and thanks Rob x