Xylophone Man 1931-2004

06/07/2004

Jared Wilson spoke to Nottingham's most legendary busker...


Frank Robinson - The Xylophone Man

Xylophone Man was without a doubt one of the most bizarre yet famous musicians in Nottingham.

 

After fifteen years on the streets he was instantly recognizable to a wide range of the public. More so than any local politician, member of the council and perhaps even the cities footballers. 

 

When I went to university (down south in Exeter) and nervously explained to the new people I met that I came from Nottingham I was usually greeted by a recognition of Robin Hood or "Is that up north?"
 

The only other thing that (three different) people, who had visited the city on shopping trips remembered, was a peculiar man who busked (badly) with a Xylophone in the city centre.

He was undisputedly Nottingham's favourite busker and was for the last decade. This is no mean feat in a city that also contains Sam Lindo, the Muddy Waters lookalike from near Broadmarsh Centre.

 

Put bluntly, Xylophone Man was not famous for his musical talent. Despite the fact before the end he broadened his range to the odd Christmas carol. His bizarre and excitable approach to his instrument was much the same as would a child's be, had they just received it for Christmas. This is probably why we loved him...


We spoke to Frank last year: 

 

What's your real name?

Frank Robinson.

 

How old are you, if you don't mind me asking?

21 today. No, I'm 72 years young.

 

How long have you been busking in Nottingham?

It's coming up to fifteen years now. I started at the end of the eighties. I've never done it anywhere else!

 

Who are your musical inspirations?

(Pause. Xylophone man looks at me a bit blankly.)

 

Your... erm favourite musicians. The people that inspired you to pick up the Xylophone.

I like a bit of Elvis. A bit of The Beatles. Maybe even a little bit of Van Morrison.

 

So no Xylophone players then?

No. I don't know any apart from me.

 

Frank Robinson - aka Xylophone ManHave you always had the same Xylophone?

No. I've got through a few in my time. This one's my favourite though!

 

Whereabouts are you from in Nottingham?

I was born in Cotgrave and I still live there. I've lived all my years there.

 

What are you going to be doing for Christmas?

Well I don't really know yet.  I'm a quiet man really. I keep myself to myself. All my family have passed away and I haven't got any people. I'll just be relaxing at home I suppose.



Do you support any of the local football teams?

Yeah. I look out for them both, but I've always been a Forest fan.

 

Can you remember when they were kings of Europe in '79?

They were awesome years. Trevor Francis was a legend! Definitely some of my best memories. Shame they're not really up to it at the moment.

 

Do you play any other instruments apart from the Xylophone?

I can play a little bit on the guitar and a little on the piano, but not really. I don't pretend that I'm Mozart, I'm just having a bit of fun and keeping people entertained. I get to meet a lot of people as well, which is good.

 

And with that Xylophone Man covertly signals to us that the interview is over. He starts to hit the little metal plates, with his rubber-ended stick and LeftLion eventually gets the hint that having journalists hanging round is bad for his business.

 

A picture of Xylophone Man adorns the Nottingham gallery at the bottom of Nottingham Castle. His legend has been passed around the city and even the country. He was also a bloody nice bloke, if a little eccentric. Frank Robinson made his mark in the city, with his own special talent for entertaining the public. LeftLion would never have felt complete had we not done this interview...

Frank, may you  rest in peace. Love LeftLion xx

Xylophone Man Poem


 

 

 

 

Share this article



Ads by Google


Comments


comments powered by Disqus

Share Tools

Go to comments Read comments and make your own

Poddingham

Podcasts and videos from Notts

Poddingham
more info

Confetti: Courses

Confetti: Courses
more info

Most read this monthalt

  • LeftLion Magazine #63
    With Owl Man, Amber Run, The Dilettante Society, Boff Konkerz, Ben Caunt, Jeanie Finlay, Rough Trade, Joe Buhdha, Bob Robinson, and more
  • Rough Trade Opens in Nottingham
    A new era begins as London's favourite indie record store opens up a branch in Nottingham. Photography of the store's first day by Shaun Gordon...
  • 15 Bands You Wish You'd Seen At The Bodega
    As The Bodega (formerly The Social) celebrates its fifteenth birthday, we look at fifteen bands who played there before they made it big
  • LeftLion Magazine #62
    With Alan Davies, Ian Culbard, Malt Cross, Anthony Hopwood, UNESCO City of Literature, Hockley Hustle, Nina Smith and more
  • Rough Trade
    The newly-opened Hockley record shop is saying a rotund "Nay!" to the slump of physical sales with a coffee machine, bike pump and vinyl-a-plenty
  • Aah Ter Talk Notts
    A starter course on the greatest accent in the world
  • Boardwalk Empire and the Ongoing Battle Between TV and Film
    "HBO are doubtlessly at the forefront of small-screen entertainment, having produced some of the greatest series of all time."
  • A Canadian at London 2012
    "I want to lose myself in the joyous atmosphere of the world’s middle class getting together to cheer on its fastest and best at throwing heavy objects"
  • Brief history of Gunn Crime
    An overview of the criminal careers of Bestwood Cartel leaders and 'Godfathers' of Nottingham gang crime, Colin and David Gunn
  • Pick of the Week: 24 - 30 November
    Whether it's art, punk rock, raving, beer or books you're into, we've got just the thing for you ducky

Related video alt

LeftLion on Facebook

 

Event Listings alt

There aren't any tickets available for sale. view all events

Ads by Google