Duke Robillard Biography

Michael Robillard, 4 October 1948, Woonsocket, Rhode Island, USA. Although associated in most minds with Roomful Of Blues, the band he formed with pianist Al Copley in 1967, Robillard’s ambitions reach beyond the rigorous guidelines of the blues. This is reflected in the number of times he has left blues-based bands in order to pursue more personal musical goals. In its first 12 years, Roomful Of Blues extended its gig sheet beyond Boston and Rhode Island and down the east coast to New York and Washington. After signing with Island Records and recording two albums, Robillard left the band in 1979 to form the Pleasure Kings with Thomas Enright and Tom DeQuattro. He also worked with Robert Gordon and the Legendary Blues Band. In 1990, he replaced Jimmie Vaughan in the Fabulous Thunderbirds, which at the time featured two ex-Roomful Of Blues musicians, Preston Hubbard and Fran Christina. In 1992, Robillard left the Fabulous Thunderbirds to once again form a new band, this time with Marty Ballou and ex-Lonnie Mack drummer Jeff McAllister. His debut for the Virgin Records imprint PointBlank, Temptation, featured a set of original songs (with the exception of Sugar Boy Crawford’s ‘What’s Wrong?’) that illustrated Robillard’s creative potential without establishing a persona as convincing as that he assumes when playing blues. Duke’s Blues was a throwback album that not only reprised numbers such as Roy Milton’s ‘Information Blues’ and T-Bone Walker’s ‘Don’t Leave Me Baby’, but actually sounded as if the songs were recorded in the 50s. Robillard’s own modern songs on the album had a similar old-fashioned feel. Following one further set for PointBlank Robillard began licensing his material to Shanachie Records, releasing acclaimed albums such as New Blues For Modern Man and Explorer. After the jazz and worldbeat experiments of theses recordings, Robillard delighted his fans by returning to straight-ahead blues on 2002’s Living With The Blues. During this period he also recorded two albums with jazz guitarist Herb Ellis.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.