Maybe you know him as Arthur Robinson of the Doo Wop groups, The Romancers and The Ad-Libs. Or maybe you know him from the Van McCoy label, VANDO, as Art Robins.
If you know him by any of those names, you know he has a powerful, honey voice. Or maybe you are a family member or friend and simply know him affectionately by his nickname, Peter Rabbit.
Thearthur Robinson Thearthur Robinson, Arthur Robinson, Art Robins Born in South Norfolk County (which later became Chesapeake), and raised on Liberty Street there, 17 year old, Robinson left the Tidewater area in 1956 to seek better opportunities up North.
He landed a job at a Staten Island hospital doing maintenance. One day while sweeping, singing to pass the time faster, he was heard by a young woman whose brother was in a Doo Wop group. Soon, a meeting was set up and next thing he knew, Thearthur Robinson from Virginia, was in a New York singing group called, The Romancers.
The Romancers featured tight harmonies and soaring vocals, with several members taking turn singing lead. The group had a series of songs recorded on Palette Records. (These Romancers were an East Coast group not to be confused with a West Coast group of the same name during the same period or another East Coast group which later became known as The Dreamers).
Not only did Robinson sing lead on songs like, “Hard Head,” but he was also writing songs with the group like, “It Only Happens With You.”
In a song, “Moody,” he co-wrote with members of the group, there is a nod to his hometown with the first verse:
You should see my baby walking down the street You know she's from Norfolk cause she walk so sweet When you see her in that evening walking Liberty Street She makes a lame man walk, a blind man see
If you are familiar with South Norfolk in Chesapeake or Berkley in Norfolk, you know what he's singing about.
Eventually, Robinson found himself with The Ad-Libs, a singing group which had been surviving off a hit record, “The Boy From New York City.”
The original Ad-Libs (Hugh Harris, Danny Austin, Dave Watt, Norman Donegan and Mary Ann Thomas), on Blue Cat Records (a subsidiary label bellonging to Leiber/Stoller and George Goldner--Red Bird Records), traveled on the Dick Clark tour with Dionne Warwick and Chuck Berry. They also shared billings with Joe Tex, Little Anthony and the Imperials, as well as Del Shannon. But as subsequent recordings enjoyed less success, the group’s popularity faded and personnel began to change.
The new Ad-Libs were on AGP Records and consisted of Arthur Robinson, Irene Baker, Hugh Harris, Rose Myers and David Watt. Also joining the lineup was Chris Bartley. The group got involved with a highly talented and prolific writer/producer by the name of Van McCoy.
Arthur Robinson was chosen to sing the lead on the remake of a ballad by a former member of The Flamingos, Tommy Hunt, titled, “Human.”
This single was backed with a now Northern Soul classic by The Romancers, “New York in the Dark.”
Robinson’s vocal performances during the recording sessions as one of the Ad-Libs, soon got him noticed and he ended up signing with VANDO Records, a label formed by a popular Philadelphia Disc Jockey by the name of Jocko Henderson along with Van McCoy.
Arthur Robinson became Art Robins and released a song called, “I Can’t Stand to See You Cry,” backed with, "Fountain of Love."
Things appeared to be taking off for Art Robins, but there were some things happening in the music business which made him feel uneasy. There seemed to be some questionable people surrounding the game and as often happened in those days, royalty payments were non-existent. Thearthur Robinson decided to seek a more stable life, got married, moved to North Carolina, and eventually moved back home to Virginia with his family and his roots. He still resides here. Now, he applies his marvelous voice to Gospel music while his secular past is finding a growing market by a whole new generation of music lovers in places like the United Kingdom and Japan.
The Teenagers, The Charmers, Nat Turner’s Rebellion, The Jamels, The Delfonics all shared one thing in
common—the voice of Richmond
native, Major Harris. (“Love Won’t Let Me Wait).
VMSoul mourns the death of our brother from Richmond, Virginia, Major Harris.