Rob Townsend

Born in Leicester in 1947, Rob has had a long and varied career. First came Family, widely regarded as one of the '60s most creative and original bands, featuring violin and soprano sax (unheard of at the time) and made instantly recognisable by the distinctive vocals of Roger Chapman. Though quickly appreciated by audiences at the trendy music clubs then flourishing in London – the Marquee, Speakeasy and Blazes – Family also became sought after in the emerging underground scene at venues such as Middle Earth and the Roundhouse.

Subsequently, as their fame spread, they progressed to playing sell-out shows at more traditional concert venues like the Albert and Festival Halls. Performances at the legendary Isle of Wight and Glastonbury festivals in line-ups featuring the likes of Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix followed, not to mention the Rolling Stones Hyde Park concert and tours of America, one playing vast stadiums coast to coast, opening for Elton John. They also enjoyed healthy record sales, with their critically acclaimed albums routinely featuring in the charts on release, and even had a handful of hit singles. with 'Weaver's Answer' and 'Burlesque' both making the top ten and bringing them to the attention of the wider 'Top of the Pops' audience.

Sadly, despite this success, Family never quite achieved the super-stardom enjoyed by some of their peers and in 1972 they decided to call it a day. Rob then joined the chart-topping duo Medicine Head, with whom he enjoyed further chart success. When they parted to go their separate ways he went freelance, touring with numerous leading artistes, from guitar giant Duane Eddy to legendary bluesman Memphis Slim.  As a session musician, his studio work spanned some very diverse musical styles: he was quickly back in the charts again with the balladeer Peter Skellern and returned there a few months later as a reggae drummer. Among those he recorded with during this time were Jona Lewie, Tom Robinson, Scaffold and George Melly, as well as various punk and soul bands.

After recording an album with Kevin Ayers (formerly lead singer with Soft Machine) Rob was asked to form part of his touring band alongside Zoot Money and guitarist Andy Summers. When they disbanded a couple of years later, Andy joined Police while Rob became the drummer for The Blues Band, with whom he has toured and recorded extensively for the past 30-plus years.

In 1991 a one-off show to celebrate Tom McGuinness’s birthday was staged which involved original members of Manfred Mann. The drummer Mike Hugg choose to switch to keyboards for this and Rob was invited to take over on drums. Because of the success and enjoyment of that show, the Manfreds decided to re-form and Rob was invited to become a member. He accepted and has been with them ever since alongside Paul and Tom.

With Blues Band and Manfreds gigs continuing in high demand, Rob still managed to fit in a handful of reunion gigs with Family in 2013. That same year he was voted Performance Musician of the Year in the European Blues Awards.