Robert Dickins, CBE
Public Orator, Professor James Alty, presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Congregation held on the afternoon of Tuesday 16 July 2002.
If you carry out an Internet search
on the words Rob Dickins you will receive over 3500 hits.
Of course the number of hits doesnt necessarily mean anything
if you type in my name ALTY you get many hits but most are for
Altrincham Football club. However in Rob Dickins case the hits are mainly
genuine. The first hit asks Who is Rob Dickins and why is he mentioned
in a popular song?
The song in question is by ENYA, a
popular music star who has sold over 50 million discs. In WATERMARK, one
of her best albums, a song called ORINOCO FLOW, has the following line
We can steer, we can near with
Rob Dickins at the wheel.
Rob Dickins is a man who, on passing
MADONNA, ROD STEWART, or CHER, on the street might possibly acknowledge
their presence but they would certainly not fail to acknowledge
his, for he has had a huge influence on the popular (and Classical) recorded
music world over the past 28 years.
Rob was born in East London in 1950.
His father, a saxophonist, was co-founder of the NMR the New Musical
Express and started the Popular Music charts in 1952. His brother
was an agent for the WHO and JIMMY HENDRIX. Rob thus grew up in an environment
in which he lived and breathed popular music.
In 1968 he read Politics, Sociology
and Russian at Loughborough. He immediately gravitated to the Students
Union where he ran the Film Society, the Folk Club, the Jazz Club, and
was Social Secretary of the Students Union. He engaged many of the leading
groups of the day turning the operation from loss into profit. This extremely
useful capability of turning loss-making operations into a profit
-would become a hallmark of his approach.
At Loughborough he mingled with artists
and poets (for example the poet, Roger McGough). He regards these three
years at Loughborough in the Union as crucial important in his later successes,
illustrating the point that coming to University is more than just reading
for a degree.
He obtained his degree in 1971 and
joined Warner Brothers Music Publishing House. Within three years
he was made Managing Director. The company was in a ruinous state, but
under his leadership the company moved from 11th to 1st within three years,
and maintained this position for the next 7 years. In 1979 he was made
International Vice President. During this time his signings included MADNESS,
THE SEX PISTOLS and WHITESNAKE.
In 1983 he became Chairman of Warner
Music UK, turning it from a loss-making company to one of the most profitable
in the UK. His early signings included HOWARD JONES, PRINCE , and MADONNA.
He personally brought SIMPLY RED, MIKE OLDFIELD, ENYA, and the girl bands
CATATONIA and CLEOPATRA to the UK market.
Many parents of todays graduates
will remember the early years of Top-of-the-Pops and in particular, a
group of wonderful girls who danced to the music - called PANs PEOPLE
- the forerunners of the popmusic video. Rob decided that watching was
not enough so he persuaded one of them to become his wife. We are delighted
today to welcome his charming wife Cherry Gilespie who is an artist in
her own right (Doff cap). As my daughter said to me this morning
marrying one of PANs PEOPLE now that IS cool!
Rob works closely with his artists.
For example, with ENYA and ROD STEWART he was involved in the recording
process, the creation of the records sleeves and the videos. He also persuaded
CHER to make the dance record Believe which was a huge hit.
Rob has also worked extensively with
classical music. He built the classical division repertoire and had some
famous cross-over successes with Goreckis third symphony, The Three
Tenors and Agnes Dei. He also simplified the Classical Charts and organised
the Classical BRIT awards.
He has served the music industry
he was Chair of the British Phonographic Institute 1986 1988 and
1997 2000 dealing with many difficult issues such as copyright
In 1998 Rob Dickins formed his own
entertainment company INSTANT KARMA and an early success was Pure
and Simple which received an Ivor Novello award.
Recently, recognition and awards have
been showered upon Rob Dickins A CBE in the 2002 Queens Birthday
Honours List, appointed Chairman of the National Museum of Childhood 2002,
member of the Board of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Trustee of
the National Foundation for Youth Music.
At the age of 52, Rob Dickins is still
at the wheel as mentioned by ENYA. He has already achieved more than most
people do in a lifetime and has time enough to do much more.
Chancellor, (DOFF CAP) it is an honour and a privilege to present to you Mr Rob. Dickins for the degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) in this University.
Copyright © Loughborough University. All rights reserved.