Robert Gillespie

Detroit Guitarist Robert Gillespie has had an interest in guitar since the early age of six or seven; his grandmother, Martha played piano and a little banjo and his grandfather, Jesse, played fiddle and  mandolin.

There was an old guitar in granny’s closet that Robert wanted to play with all the time and finally Martha got it out and tuned to to an open chord Hawaiian style and laid it across his lap and would use a butter knife to play chords and slide up and down the neck. Robert was hooked but still too small hold it up-right and play it properly.

At the age of ten Robert got a cheap acoustic and started banging around with that and finally took lessons after seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan show like many other young people.

After a year and a half of lessons he was ready and got organized with some older guys and played in a garage band called The Wise Guys they played one back-yard party and a wedding, then broke up.

All through school the interest continued and Robert was very into the English wave of Rock bands like Rolling Stones / Kinks / Animals and most of all the Yardbirds and The Who.

Like many other young white boys it was the English bands who turned them on to Muddy Waters,  John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Willie Dixon and all the Chicago blues that was the real deal. One of the highlights of his teens was jamming with his guitar-teacher and his band The Gold Brothers downtown on Plum Street at a Coffee House called the Red Roach. Some ten years later he would meet Johnny Angelos again, the singer / harp player from the The Gold Brothers.

Robert played with a cool East-Side band called Lickin’ Stick that performed at the Cinderella Ballroom in 1971, and also backed up Chuck Berry at the Allen Theater in Cleveland, Ohio that fall.

Lickin’ Stick turned into Limousine and they recorded a few songs that Robert wrote and one caught the interest of a local D.J. Johnny Williams.  The new 18year old vote had just came into effect and Johnny Williams added some lyrics.  The song  “You’ve Got The Power” b/w “Natural Fact” written by Gillespie and vocalist John Ogen, a great singer from downriver received airplay locally and in Flint. That band turned into Northstar with Motown bassist Tony Newton. They recorded a great album that will be released shortly available on this website.

The summer of 1976 Robert was jamming at the infamous Red Carpet, a popular east-side club with the Rockets. Robert befriended Jimmy McCarty and Johnny Bee Bandanjek, the cream of the crop of Detroit musicians from the Detroit Wheels, whom Robert admired blaring from the transistor radio in 1965. One special night Robert found himself on stage with Rob Tyner from the MC5. They both hit it off and starting rehearsing, writing songs.

Their new band the New MC5 played their first show the next year at the Red Carpet. They soon signed with Brass Ring Productions (the concert promoters) and began playing arenas all over the tri-state area, mostly Michigan. They opened for big headliners like AC-DC, Alice Cooper, Cheap Trick, Blue Oyster Cult, Rush, and Rainbow and recorded some tracks for Atlantic Records who unfortunately passed on it.

Robert wasn’t into calling the band MC5 to start with but Tyner felt he had claim to it due to other members touring Europe without him in 1972. By late 1978, Robert and Johnny Angelos started the Torpedos with Mike Marshall on bass and Ralph Serafino on drums (both from the Tyner band). They began writing and recording and became very big in Detroit creating a buzz with record people on a national level.

Johnny had severe issues with fame and quit the band just when things were starting to happen. Robert is very proud of that band and the record; it’s definitely worth a listen.

During the 80’s Robert started a band with vocalist Dennis Quinn and Mike Marshall on bass plus Greg Calder on drums called The Finnz.

They recorded two singles and performed on Doug Podell’s T.V. show called The Beat. The Finnz’s were finished in early ’83 when Robert heard When you were Mine on the radio from Mitch Ryder and just had to have that gig. He auditioned and got hired spring of ’83 and toured the US and Europe and recorded five albums and a DVD over the 19 years with Mitch (longer than anyone else BTW).

In 2001 Robert formed Powertrane with Scott Morgan of the Rationals and Sonic’s Rendezvous Band. They performed and recorded two CD’s and two singles and did gigs sporadically over the next eight years.

Finally that brings us to 2010 when Robert had the idea for an instrumental band and called Mike Marshall and Greg Calder and formed the Detroit Daggers.