Robin was born Lawrence Fewell Roberts in New York City in 1940, moving to Tacoma, Washington in the late ‘40’s. There he attended Stadium High School graduating in 1958.
Robin began his professional singing career in 1957 in Tacoma Washington with Little Bill & The Bluenotes and later joined the Wailers group in 1959. He was discovered by Buck Ormsby and Little Bill while walking along the fairway at the Western Washington Sate Fair in Puyallup Wa. Robin was standing on a bench singing acappella to a group of young mesmerized fans. He was asked to join the band.
One of Robin’s main musical contributions was singing and co-arranging,
with Richard Dangel(Wailers), the precedent setting version of the song
“Louie Louie”, released by Robin and the Wailers in 1962 on the Etiquette Records label.
Since this release it has become the ‘international anthem’ of rock. Robin revised the original Jamaican themed Richard Berry’ version spinning it into his own rock/R&B style then adlibbed into the arrangement the “ya, ya, ya, ya’s, oh oh’s, oh no’s, and “let’s give it to ’em right now”. It was also recorded by the Kingsmen including countless national and international artists, garage bands, college marching bands, etc.., and has been heard in several movie and television soundtracks, written about in books, newspapers, magazines. It was even considered for the Washington State song. Robin sang with the Wailers from 1959 until 1963, and is featured on the classic “Wailers At The Castle” Etiquette album.
During Robin’s ventures with the Wailers he attended the University of Puget Sound where he was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity He also attended the University of Washington. Robin later received a Masters degree in bio chemistry from the University of Oregon. He later moved to San Francisco to work for a chemical company. Rockin’ Robin Roberts died in late December 1967 in a car accident in south San Francisco after leaving a night club in south San Francisco with several celebrating co-workers.
Robin’s Etiquette discography contains a total of 6 songs all recorded with the Wailers and released on Etiquette Records. Robin was an electric dynamo on stage with an extraordinary voice and spark that was an elevating exhilarating experience for anyone who had the opportunity to see him perform. He was a special person and one hell of an entertainer.
Robin was the featured artist on the first Etiquette Records release (“Louie Louie” b/w a cover of Ray Charles’ “Maryann”) ET 1 and the featured artist on the last single released on the last Etiquette single “You Weren’t Using Your Head” b/w “You Don’t Love Me Anymore”, recorded and released in summer of 1967.
On March 28, 1998 The Wailers and several fans and friends celebrated Robin and his music with a memorial tribute and performances in Tacoma, Washington. Special guests included members of the Sonics, the Kingsmen, Moby Grape, Jr. Cadillac, Little Bill & The Blue Notes, Gail Harris, Tacoma’s Blues Brothers, a surprise performance by, Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame inductees the Ventures, and attended by several other renowned Northwest area musicians and performers.
A Scholarship fund in the name of Rockin’ Robin Roberts was established that is part of the non-profit Wailers Performing Arts Foundation. It’s mission is to participate, preserve and support the future of musical arts and education in the Northwest, and presenting the Robin Roberts Scholarship to deserved talented youths pursuing the fields of musical arts and entertainment.