Rob Alderton

07 November 1966


Rob Alderton, SAILOR's new Nickelodeon player, unbelievable accordionist, ex-SAILOR fan and supremely gifted all-round musician and vocalist, joined the band in May 2001. He replaced Anthony England, the successor of Henry Marsh, at the left side of the Nickelodeon.
Rob left the SAILOR ship again in July 2005.

Born 7th November 1966, Rob is the youngest member of SAILOR. He grew up in High Wycombe, a town about 25 miles West of London. His two elder sisters played piano, and whenever the seat was vacant, Rob would play. He started to show distinct signs of being a ‘natural’ by the tender age of four, and played to school assemblies as a 5 year old!
When SAILOR were first in the charts, Rob would have been nearly 10!
A gifted musician, at the age of 11, he won a scholarship to the local music school, which he attended each Friday and Saturday, to study music theory, piano, harmony and playing in bands and orchestras. Rob played trombone in the High Wycombe Concert Band, which provided his first trip to Germany… He was smitten with the continent and realised that it was in Europe that he wanted to make music. Perfect pitch and natural musicianship enabled Rob to become a sought-after young musician. At 14, he musically directed, arranged and conducted his first show, The Boyfriend, for a theatre in Wallingford, Oxfordshire.. a town he later lived in for many years. His tastes were broad and he liked anything ‘unusual’. He remembers hearing SAILOR on the radio and thinking how much he liked the sounds and the harmonies. "I remember trawling the record shops for a copy of ‘Girls Girls Girls’ in the early 80’s. I found it on an import" he recalls. In the 80’s he set up his own band, Folklore, which played folk tunes for dances, arranged in Rob’s own inimitable theatrical style (and even a tune or two of SAILOR’s!) Here was an outlet for the fun side of his music, which included his own compositions (an original book of his folk tunes was published) and a chance to hone his skills as an accordionist… A young accordionist is a rare beast in England, especially one who plays Jazz and Rock, so Rob soon found work in the orchestra pits for shows such as Cole Porter’s ‘Can-Can’. He remembers: "My Mother bought me an accordion when I was very young. I missed my piano when we were on holiday, and this seemed like a good way to keep me amused and out of mischief".
After school, Rob progressed to college. He studied Music and Theatre in North London and qualified with a BA (hons) degree in Performing Arts when he was 22. There, he studied piano, keyboards, bass guitar, singing, theatre sound and lighting, stage management, recording, and even dance!
His early start in theatre lead Rob to play in, and conduct over 100 different musical productions including Les Misérables and other West End shows.
As a ‘day job’, he had brief flirtations with teaching, including private tuition of jazz/rock piano, advanced harmony, classroom teaching at a sixth form college and head of music at a girls’ school! Always gaining a reputation as ‘an eccentric who wore odd clothes’!
After six years’ teaching, Rob finally got a ‘break’, as he was engaged as a rehearsal pianist for Cliff Richard in his production, Heathcliff. Years of combining theatre with rock ‘n’ roll had finally paid off. From Cliff, Rob moved on to do 2 tours and television work with the comedian Freddie Starr. This he describes as "interesting", with a glint in his eye! (There’s a whole book to write on that, we suspect!) With Freddie Starr, Rob worked with the likes of The Jordinares (Elvis Presley’s backing group).
With a theatrical grounding, broad musical tastes, and a love of the continent, how would he ever find the perfect outlet? Well, it took many years of looking… until a chance meeting with Peter Lincoln. "I have a sound and lighting company called Crescendo, and I was providing a large PA system for Pete in a massive marquee" he recalls. After talking for a while it emerged that they had Cliff Richard in common AND Peter played in one of Rob’s favourite bands of the 70’s. (No prizes for guessing which one) Rob offered his services immediately, should one half of the Nickelodeon ever need replacing. The seeds were sown! Nearly two years later, the call came through… a man with a panama suit and talents, which matched Rob’s, was needed. Sense of humour essential!
At last, Rob found a band, which required someone who played show-style piano and keyboards, piano accordion, sang and who had more than a hint of insanity… Oh, and who lived locally…. SAILOR! The rest, as they say, is history. Having brought the average age of the band down somewhat, Rob has enthusiasm and determination to drive the band forward, ensuring the sound of SAILOR lasts well into the future!

Interview for the DVD "Pirate Copy - Sailor Live In Concert"
November 2002:

Question: Which of your records do you enjoy playing the most on stage?

Rob: The mad stuff really. Things like "Vera From Veracruz". "Girls Girls Girls" is a song I loved, in fact that was my entry into SAILOR really, trying to find that song several years after it had been deleted. That was how I discovered the sound of SAILOR. The crazy stuff. I mean, I love "A Glass Of Chamapgne", but for me things like that are a bit too uncomplicated. I actually quite like the chalange of some of the other tunes, when there's complex stuff to do on the Nickelodeon. Things like "Panama", "Vera From Veracruz". Stuff where I can get my teeth into.

Question: What is it that European audiences like about SAILOR so much?

Rob: It's the European sound. It's intrinsicly not English, with the piano accordion and the Nickelodeon. I've always seen the Nickelodeon as a sort of Dutch street organ. The hurdy-gurdy kind of thing which just belongs on the streets of Paris or Amsterdam. I think European audiences still seem to like melody. In Britain we seem to have gone the American route where there has been the breakdown gradually of melody and harmony, and so you're left with the bare bones very little. But for SAILOR it's very melodic, very harmonic. And the Europeans still frankly like a tune you can whistle. We give them that.

Question: Who is responsilbe for the original design of the Nickelodeon?

Rob: Well, you have to understand of course I'm not an original member, so everything I have is on hearsay or inherited history. Georg, I believe. The concept of one machine producing all the music was Grant, and the whole sort of SAILOR sound. But the actual physical design of it was Georg.

The Harbour Bar Bell...

The new SAILOR song written by Rob Alderton:

It all began in an old harbour bar
Where sailors would gather from near and from far
Like the tall pirate captain who played his guitar. And the music began
He had riches of diamonds and pearls
And he sang all his songs about Girls, girls, girls
As he carried on strumming a story unfurled – And the music played on

(Guitar Solo)
What a story to tell
The sailors all singing in drunken harmony; ringing the harbour bar bell

A suave bon viveur on a passage from France
This entrepreneur – thought he might take a chance
On a hand of straight poker or maybe romance… As the music played on
He was good playing ace after ace
Then he noticed the sound that was filling the place
In an instant the monsieur was playing bass… And the music played on

(Bass Solo)
What a story to tell
The sailors all singing in drunken harmony; ringing the harbour bar bell

A third man appeared dressed entirely in black
Came into the bar and sat down at the back
He conjured some drumsticks from out of a sack – As the music played on…
Where he had learned them he couldn’t explain
But he played Latin rhythms and knew them by name
He could tap a Cha Cha on a glass of champagne
Which he did as the music played on

(Drum Solo)
What a story to tell
The sailors all singing in drunken harmony; ringing the harbour bar bell

The harbour was buzzing down in Vera Cruz
With loose Latin women and free flowing booze
A rich plantation owner with plenty to lose, lost it all as the music played on
At the piano the man always sat
In a crumpled white suit and a Panama hat
Playing ragtime for whisky
Or something like that. And the music played on

(Piano Solo)
What a story to tell
The sailors all singing in drunken harmony; ringing the harbour bar bell

Well, they drank and they sang deep on into the night
But then something happened which gave them a fright
The old Nickelodeon burst into life - What the hell’s going on?
How’d this happen? How could it have been?
It’s just a mechanical music machine
Ah but no one put money in or turned the key. Yet the music played on

(Nickelodeon Solo)
What a story to tell
The sailors all singing in drunken harmony; ringing the harbour bar bell

The music got louder and blew ‘cross the bay
It was heard in the distance from ten miles away
But the fog came in quickly that night so they say, as the music played on
When the dawn broke, the mist slowly cleared
Revealing a silence and something more weird
For the bar and the sailors had both disappeared…
But the bell sounded on……….

[Bell tolls]

"The Harbour Bar Bell" debuted at the Tring concert on 21 March 2004, which was Rob's favourite moment in the band so far, as he explains in the book "A Glass Of Champagne – The Official Sailor Story":
"The sound of SAILOR for me was set by those songs I heard on 'Trouble'. I could almost smell the exotic places Georg wrote about. I decided to try my hand at writing for SAILOR, and at Tring we performed 'Harbour Bar Bell'. What a thrill it was. The song is about four men who meet in a harbour bar and make music together. There is a pirate captain, a merchant sailor from France, a conjurer in black and plantation owner in a panama suit. Eventually the mechanical music machine (Nickelodeon) joins in of its own accord. As the dawn breaks, the fog clears and all but the sound of the harbour bar bell have disappeared. Could it be any more theatrical?"

Well, could it be more theatrical? Have a look and listen yourself:
Your one and only chance to see and hear SAILOR play their unreleased song "The Harbour Bar Bell" live at the famous concert in Tring (UK) on 21 March 2004!!
The song was only played once -!- and (unfortunately) never released.
Song © by Rob Alderton - used with with kind permission ;-)

filmed by Karsten Wagner ©

NEWS September 2004:

We are proud to announce the birth of Louis George - son of SAILOR-member Rob Alderton and Anna Lishman - on 19 September 2004!!!!!!!!
Best wishes to Louis George and his parents from the whole SAILOR-crew and welcome aboard! ;-)

Special thanks to Rob and Anna for the photos:

NEWS May 2005:

Rob Alderton's FAST FOOD The Musical

"Fast Food - The Musical"
by Rob Alderton
World premiere: 20 - 23 July 2005
at the Swan Theatre
High Wycombe, UK

Rob Alderton's FAST FOOD The MusicalDon't miss this opportunity to be a part of musical history.
Be one of the first to see this exciting new musical that looks set to rock the West End... and the fast food industry alike.
Written by SAILOR's Rob Alderton, the show takes a satirical yet poignant look at the early days of the Fast Food phenomenon. An original story of rivalry, romance and restaurants, powerfully portrayed with stunning new songs.
All set against the backdrop of rags to riches food giant, GoodeBurger, featuring a special celebrity guest star as the company's mascot Goodie the Bear.
A musical to educate, inform and, above all, entertain!

"Fast Food - The Musical" will have its world premiere at the Swan Theatre in High Wycombe (UK) from 20 - 23 July 2005.
Tickets can be ordered
- via phone: Box office: (0044) 01494 512000
- or at

For further details see:

NEWS July 2005:

FAST FOOD premiere photos 20.07.2005The premiere of Rob Alderton's "Fast Food - The Musical" at the Swan Theatre in High Wycombe (UK) was a big success. The opening night on 20 July 2005 gave us the chance to see the very beginning of this exciting new musical with a fantastic cast and great music written by "our" Rob Alderton himself. The show also featured a great stage set with the special highlight - a burger machine built by Graham "NaylorMan" Naylor.
To see photos and reviews of the opening night of "Fast Food - The Musical" on 20 July 2005
click here!
Best wishes and SAILOR-greetings,

~ Katrin
your webmaster

NEWS July/August 2005:

Man Overboard... Rob Alderton leaves the ship

Statement from SAILOR - 29 July 2005:
"SAILOR wish to inform all our fans that sadly Rob Alderton is leaving the band with immediate effect. We are very grateful for his talents and unique contribution to the continuation of SAILOR over the last few years and have wished him well for his musical and other projects in the future. 
An announcement on Rob's replacement will be made very shortly and we want all the fans out there to know that our concert schedule and other plans for the Autumn onwards will carry on and be better than ever."
SAILOR - Phil, Grant & Peter - 29 July 2005

Update 23 August 2005:
Message from Rob Alderton:
"Time to hand the Nickelodeon back. First and foremost, I'm a SAILOR fan, so I can only say 'great news'...
It's been fun keeping the seat warm! Theatre calls me once again. Thanks to everyone who has sent me kind wishes. The biggest compliment of all was being mistaken for Henry sometimes.
Good luck all...
Rob. x"

NEWS August 2007:

Congratulations Rob & Anna...

On 26 August 2007 we had the great honour and pleasure to be invited to the wedding of ex-SAILOR Rob Alderton and Anna in Tring (UK) - the place of the legendary 2004 SAILOR headline power cut concert.
It was the most special and unique and fun day ever, including not only the original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car but also a LOT of fun thanks to everbody involved plus a lot of great songs from various of Rob's extraordinary musicals.
Special thanks to to all the SAILOR fans and SAILORs who have helped us to create the wedding book. You can see the result of this project by clicking below!
If you want to know more about it, just have a look at our little extra page:
Photos and Videos: The wedding of Rob & Anna
~ Katrin
(your webmaster) ;-)

Click here for photos of the wedding of Rob and Anna!!!

Message from Rob & Anna:
Dear Katrin. It was really lovely to have you and Karsten at our wedding on Sunday. The book of messages from Pete, Georg and SAILOR fans was truly special and we'll treasure it. Please pass our thanks onto those who have been kind enough to send us their good wishes; it's overwhelming to still be in the thoughts of SAILOR and their fans.
Lots of love
Rob and Anna... Alderton!

photo © by Elisabeth Weber

Go to:

Georg Kajanus
Henry Marsh
Phil Pickett
Grant Serpell
Gavin & Virginia David
Peter Lincoln
Anthony England
Rob Alderton
Oliver Marsh
Nick Parvin
The crew...

Rob in High Wycombe 2002

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