Friday, December 30, 2011

Frank "Sugar Chile" Robinson

I ran across this while looking for something else. Frank Robinson is often mistakenly identified as a young Little Richard Penniman. He is not. But his story is unique.

Frank Robinson was born in 1938 in Detroit. He was a child prodigy by age two, later working with such luminaries as Lionel Hampton and Frankie Carle, who were master pianists themselves. He performed for President Truman at age seven and also appeared in the movie "No Leave, No Love" with Keenan Wynn the following year in 1946 when he was eight years old. This clip is from that film.

He is most remembered for his versions of "Numbers Boogie", which shot to #4, and the classic blues number "Caledonia", which reached #14. By 1952, at the age of 14, he stopped playing professionally to concentrate on his schoolwork. He is quoted in Wikipedia as having said in later years, "I wanted to go to school... I wanted some school background in me and I asked my Dad if I could stop, and I went to school because I honestly wanted my college diploma."

He went on to earn his Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Michigan, before returning briefly to the music business, setting up new labels in Detroit during the 1960's.

Still very much alive, Mr. Robinson made an appearance promoting Detroit music in 2002, and later, in 2009, he traveled to England to appear in a rock and roll revival concert.

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