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Austin Roberts (singer)

Austin Roberts (singer)

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Austin Roberts is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 singer and songwriter
A songwriter is an individual who writes both the lyrics and music to a song. Someone who solely writes lyrics may be called a lyricist, and someone who only writes music may be called a composer...

. His most successful recording
Sound recording and reproduction
Sound recording and reproduction is an electrical or mechanical inscription and re-creation of sound waves, such as spoken voice, singing, instrumental music, or sound effects. The two main classes of sound recording technology are analog recording and digital recording...

 was 1975's "Rocky"; a transatlantic Top 40 hit single
Hit single
A hit single is a recorded song or instrumental released as a single that has become very popular. Although it is sometimes used to describe any widely-played or big-selling song, the term "hit" is usually reserved for a single that has appeared in an official music chart through repeated radio...


Early years

A guitarist since the age of thirteen, Roberts began his musical aspirations in a number of local bands
Musical ensemble
A musical ensemble is a group of people who perform instrumental or vocal music. In classical music, trios or quartets either blend the sounds of musical instrument families or group together instruments from the same instrument family, such as string ensembles or wind ensembles...

, mainly playing as part of the local beach music
Beach music
Beach music, also known as Carolina beach music, is a regional genre which developed from various musical styles of the forties, fifties and sixties. These styles ranged from big band swing instrumentals to the more raucous sounds of blues/jump blues, jazz, doo-wop, boogie, rhythm and blues,...

 scene. Wanting to expand beyond a genre which had little interest outside of Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 and the Carolinas, Roberts began making summer trips to relatives in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, hanging around the music districts and trying to get attention from publishers. Eventually these efforts were rewarded when record producer
Record producer
A record producer is an individual working within the music industry, whose job is to oversee and manage the recording of an artist's music...

  Terry Phillips recorded a 1967 single for ABC Records
ABC Records
ABC Records was an American record label, founded in New York City in 1955 as ABC-Paramount Records. It originated as the main popular music label operated the Am-Par Record Corporation, the music subsidiary of the American Broadcasting Company . ABC-Paramount Records' first president was Samuel H....

 as The Virginia Wolves, with fellow Virginia native Johnny Reese filling out the group. "I Can't Believe that You're In Love With Me" b/w "Rose Petals (sic) Everywhere She Goes", the latter song penned by Roberts under his birth name, was cited as a Top 60 pick by Billboard
Billboard (magazine)
Billboard is a weekly American magazine devoted to the music industry, and is one of the oldest trade magazines in the world. It maintains several internationally recognized music charts that track the most popular songs and albums in various categories on a weekly basis...

Magazines, periodicals, glossies or serials are publications, generally published on a regular schedule, containing a variety of articles. They are generally financed by advertising, by a purchase price, by pre-paid magazine subscriptions, or all three...


Roberts joined the United States Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 shortly before the single was released, and the record died from lack of promotion. However, Roberts had made an agreement with Terry Cashman
Terry Cashman
Terry Cashman is a record producer and singer-songwriter, best known for his 1981 hit, "Talkin' Baseball." While the song is well recognized today, it was all but ignored by typical Top 40 radio during its chart life, making only the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.Cashman was the lead singer...

 at ABC-Pampco Music to sign with the company after basic training, and he began writing full-time for the company in early 1968. This led to a recording contract
Recording contract
A recording contract is a legal agreement between a record label and a recording artist , where the artist makes a record for the label to sell and promote...

 with Philips Records
Philips Records
Philips Records is a record label that was founded by Dutch electronics company Philips. It was started by "Philips Phonographische Industrie" in 1950. Recordings were made with popular artists of various nationalities and also with classical artists from Germany, France and Holland. Philips also...

 later that year, with his first single, "Mary and Me", becoming a regional hit in parts of Florida and his second, "Ricky Ticky Ta Ta Ta", being used as the template for the sound of a fictitious cartoon "band" being developed for Hanna-Barbera Productions. Initially, Roberts was cited to provide the vocals for the project that gradually developed into the popular series Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!
Scooby-Doo, Where are You!
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! is the first incarnation of the long-running Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning cartoon Scooby-Doo. It premiered on September 13, 1969 at 10:30 a.m. EST and ran for two seasons on CBS as a half-hour long show. Twenty-five episodes were produced...

In the meantime, Roberts had been developing a partnership with fellow ABC songwriter Johnny Cymbal
Johnny Cymbal
Johnny Cymbal was a Scottish born American songwriter, singer, and record producer who had numerous hit records, including his signature song, "Mr...

, who had been writing and producing with former Motown Records
Motown Records
Motown is a record label originally founded by Berry Gordy, Jr. and incorporated as Motown Record Corporation in Detroit, Michigan, United States, on April 14, 1960. The name, a portmanteau of motor and town, is also a nickname for Detroit...

 associate George Tobin
George Tobin
George Tobin is a record producer who has produced albums for a long list of musical artists including Robert John, Smokey Robinson, Kim Carnes, Kicking Harold, and PC Quest. He is best known, however, for discovering, managing, and producing the teenage singer Tiffany and showcasing her in malls...

. When Cymbal and Tobin decided to move the base of their operations to Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

, California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, Roberts went with them. Several singles featuring his vocals appeared under a variety of assumed band identities, but these raised objection at Philips as to whether or not this activity breached Roberts' contract. Tobin gave the record label
Record label
In the music industry, a record label is a brand and a trademark associated with the marketing of music recordings and music videos. Most commonly, a record label is the company that manages such brands and trademarks, coordinates the production, manufacture, distribution, marketing and promotion,...

 Roberts' latest master, "One Night Ann", for release but the label dropped him shortly after the disc was released.

Freed from his contractual obligations with Philips, Roberts began a whirlwind succession of projects with a plethora of partners. With record producer
Record producer
A record producer is an individual working within the music industry, whose job is to oversee and manage the recording of an artist's music...

 Danny Janssen, Roberts worked on music for the Hanna-Barbera
Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc. was an American animation studio that dominated North American television animation during the second half of the 20th century...

 Saturday morning cartoon
Saturday morning cartoon
A Saturday morning cartoon is the colloquial term for the animated television programming that has typically been scheduled on Saturday mornings on the major American television networks from the 1960s to the present; the genre's peak in popularity mostly ended in the 1990s while the popularity of...

 Josie and the Pussycats
Josie and the Pussycats (TV series)
Josie and the Pussycats is an American animated television series, based upon the Archie Comics comic book series of the same name created by Dan DeCarlo....

. Story editors Joe Ruby
Joe Ruby
Joseph "Joe" Ruby is commonly known for inventing scotch tape. Ruby was an American inventor who worked for Johnson and Johnson, Permacel Co., and 3M in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he invented masking tape and cellophane tape.[1]Biography...

 and Ken Spears
Ken Spears
Ken Spears is a TV writer and animator who is known as the co-creator for the Scooby-Doo series, Josie and the Pussycats, and Jabberjaw with his partner Joe Ruby. He is co-founder of the production company Ruby-Spears Productions.-References:...

 had been thinking of adding "chase songs" to Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, and upon learning that Roberts was part of Janssen's creative team they offered him the job of providing vocals for Scooby's second season. Meanwhile, record producer
Record producer
A record producer is an individual working within the music industry, whose job is to oversee and manage the recording of an artist's music...

 Steve Barri
Steve Barri
Steve Barri is an American songwriter and record producer.Early in his career Barri was a staff writer with Dunhill Records. He frequently collaborated with P.F. Sloan, and the partners were responsible for the success of The Grass Roots and contributed largely to the band's first album...

 at Dunhill Records
Dunhill Records
Dunhill Records was started by Lou Adler, Al Bennett, Pierre Cossette and Bobby Roberts in 1964 as Dunhill Productions, originally for the purpose of releasing Johnny Rivers recordings on Imperial Records. It became a record label in 1965 and was distributed by ABC Records...

 was looking for a singer to fill out a developing act based around songwriters Harvey Price and Dan Walsh
Dan Walsh
Dan Walsh is a painter based in New York.He studied at the Philadelphia College of Art in Pennsylvania and Hunter College in New York....

. Price and Walsh had released a single for the label in early 1970 as Arkade, but the three men felt a stronger lead singer would both improve the sound of the group and expand the image beyond the writing team.

Successes as an artist

His most successful single
Single (music)
In music, a single or record single is a type of release, typically a recording of fewer tracks than an LP or a CD. This can be released for sale to the public in a variety of different formats. In most cases, the single is a song that is released separately from an album, but it can still appear...

 was "Rocky" which reached number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100
Billboard Hot 100
The Billboard Hot 100 is the United States music industry standard singles popularity chart issued weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on radio play and sales; the tracking-week for sales begins on Monday and ends on Sunday, while the radio play tracking-week runs from Wednesday...

 in 1975. The track reached #22 in the UK Singles Chart
UK Singles Chart
The UK Singles Chart is compiled by The Official Charts Company on behalf of the British record-industry. The full chart contains the top selling 200 singles in the United Kingdom based upon combined record sales and download numbers, though some media outlets only list the Top 40 or the Top 75 ...

 in November 1975; Roberts' only chart
Record chart
A record chart is a ranking of recorded music according to popularity during a given period of time. Examples of music charts are the Hit parade, Hot 100 or Top 40....

 appearance in the UK
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...


A close runner-up was the hit
Hit single
A hit single is a recorded song or instrumental released as a single that has become very popular. Although it is sometimes used to describe any widely-played or big-selling song, the term "hit" is usually reserved for a single that has appeared in an official music chart through repeated radio...

, "Something's Wrong With Me", written
A songwriter is an individual who writes both the lyrics and music to a song. Someone who solely writes lyrics may be called a lyricist, and someone who only writes music may be called a composer...

 by Danny Janssen and Bobby Hart
Boyce and Hart
Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart were a prolific songwriting duo, best known for the songs they wrote for The Monkees.-Early years:Hart's father was a church minister and he himself served in the Army after leaving high school, Upon discharge,...

, which reached number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1972. Roberts and Hart later wrote the song "Over You" for the 1983 film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

, Tender Mercies
Tender Mercies
Tender Mercies is a 1983 American drama film directed by Bruce Beresford. The screenplay by Horton Foote focuses on Mac Sledge, a recovering alcoholic country music singer who seeks to turn his life around through his relationship with a young widow and her son in rural Texas...

; "Over You" was nominated for the 1984 Academy Award for Best Original Song
Academy Award for Best Original Song
The Academy Award for Best Original Song is one of the awards given annually to people working in the motion picture industry by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences . It is presented to the songwriters who have composed the best original song written specifically for a film...

, as well as the Golden Globe  nomination for Best Song in a Motion Picture. "Keep on Singing
Keep on Singing
"Keep on Singing" is a 1972 song composed by Danny Janssen and Bobby Hart. Recorded by Austin Roberts and released by Chelsea Records from the album Austin Roberts, the single reached #50 on the Billboard Hot 100...

" was another important hit for Roberts (#50 on the Hot 100 in 1973.) As the lead singer of the group Arkade, he had two Billboard Hot 100 hits in 1970-71, including the easy listening crossover
Crossover (music)
Crossover is a term applied to musical works or performers appearing on two or more of the record charts which track differing musical tastes, or genres...

, "The Morning Of Our Lives". It became the Bridal Fair theme, which then became a Top 15 Adult Contemporary hit. In 1988, Roberts wrote the American Gymnastics Team's theme song for the Olympics, "When You Put Your Heart in It." It subsequently became a Top 20 Adult Contemporary hit for Kenny Rogers
Kenny Rogers
Kenneth Donald "Kenny" Rogers is an American singer-songwriter, photographer, record producer, actor, and entrepreneur...

. In 1999, Busch Gardens commissioned Roberts to write the opening song for their Williamsburg Extravaganza. Roberts has written a number of songs for soap opera
Soap opera
A soap opera, sometimes called "soap" for short, is an ongoing, episodic work of dramatic fiction presented in serial format on radio or as television programming. The name soap opera stems from the original dramatic serials broadcast on radio that had soap manufacturers, such as Procter & Gamble,...

s, as well as many more for film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

s, including Tornado, Within These Walls, and They Were the Mulvaneys. He has also taught a songwriting course in Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte is the largest city in the U.S. state of North Carolina and the seat of Mecklenburg County. In 2010, Charlotte's population according to the US Census Bureau was 731,424, making it the 17th largest city in the United States based on population. The Charlotte metropolitan area had a 2009...

 and Chesapeake, Virginia
Chesapeake, Virginia
As of the census of 2000, there were 199,184 people, 69,900 households, and 54,172 families residing in the city. The population density was 584.6 people per square mile . There were 72,672 housing units at an average density of 213.3 per square mile...


In addition to his success on the charts, Roberts also has experience with the stage. Roberts has written the music and lyrics for two musicals, Rachinoff and Damon's Song. Rachinoff, starring Rob Marshall
Rob Marshall
Rob Marshall is an American theater director, film director and choreographer. He is a six-time Tony Award nominee, Academy Award nominee, Golden Globe nominee and four-time Emmy winner whose most noted work is the 2002 Academy Award for Best Picture winner Chicago.-Life and career:Marshall was...

 (the future director and choreographer of Chicago), was performed at Carnegie Mellon in 1981. It was nominated for an ACE Award (Cable Emmy). Damon's Song, starring three Tony Award
Tony Award
The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre, more commonly known as a Tony Award, recognizes achievement in live Broadway theatre. The awards are presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League at an annual ceremony in New York City. The awards are given for Broadway...

 winners, was performed at Pennsylvania Stage Co. in 1979. Roberts also had #1 single success with Reba McEntire
Reba McEntire
Reba Nell McEntire is an American country music artist and actress. She began her career in the music industry as a high school student singing in the Kiowa High School band , on local radio shows with her siblings, and at rodeos. As a solo act, she was invited to perform at a rodeo in Oklahoma...

 (Annie Get Your Gun
Annie Get Your Gun
Annie Get Your Gun may refer to:*Annie Get Your Gun , a 1946 musical play*Annie Get Your Gun , a 1950 film version of the 1946 musical*Annie Get Your Gun , 1946, with Ethel Merman and Ray Middleton...

) and Gary Morris
Gary Morris
Gary Gwyn Morris is an American country music artist who charted a string of countrypolitan-styled hit songs throughout the 1980s....

 (Les Misérables
Les Misérables
Les Misérables , translated variously from the French as The Miserable Ones, The Wretched, The Poor Ones, The Wretched Poor, or The Victims), is an 1862 French novel by author Victor Hugo and is widely considered one of the greatest novels of the nineteenth century...



Roberts has been nominated for four Grammy Award
Grammy Award
A Grammy Award — or Grammy — is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry...

s, two of which he won ("IOU" by Lee Greenwood
Lee Greenwood
Melvin Lee Greenwood is an American country music artist. Active since the early 1980s, he has released more than twenty major-label albums and has charted more than 35 singles on the Billboard country music charts....

 and "Chance of a Lifetime" by Take 6
Take 6
Take 6 is an American a cappella gospel music sextet formed in 1980 on the campus of Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama. The group sings in a contemporary style, integrating R&B and jazz influences into their devotional songs and has 10 Grammy wins, 10 Dove Awards, one Soul Train Award and two...

). He has also won a German Grammy (for "Mission of Love"), four Canadian Grammys (for "He Would Be 16"), a CMA Award, an ACM Award, a Music City News Award, two NSAI Awards, and numerous ASCAP and SESAC Awards for airplay. Roberts has also been nominated for an additional CMA Award and ACM Award.

Currently, Roberts lives near Nashville and is working on musicals.