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Friday, September 22, 2017

Gwynneth Ashley Robin 1960-1976


Gwynneth Ashley Robin

gwynneth

Teenage pop star Gwynneth Ashley Robin died 40 years ago this week.  It is impossible to speculate what this talented young lady might have done with her life, but she did make an impact on many other lives.  Having read about her, it seems clear that she had a zest for life, supported causes that she believed in & made many of us smile.

Early Life

Gwynneth Joubert was born on 20 August 1960.  The family resort, Robinson Lake (near Randfontein) was the perfect place for a young child with a passion for singing.  By the age of 9, young Gwynneth had already appeared on stage singing with bands.  Parents, Chris & Val Joubert encouraged Gwynneth to develop her talent, & were very supportive when their daughter set off on the road to pop-stardom.

Robinson Lake Resort

Randfontein is about 50 kilometres from Johannesburg.  In the 1970s & 1980s, most of the people in Randfontein were employed in the mining industry, or in the myriad of business required to support the gold mines.  They worked hard, & some say they played especially hard.  Robinson Lake was a popular base for events & it provided full leisure facilities for people to relax & unwind.

There was lots to do.  The jetty provided boating facilities, miniature golf was enjoyed by dating couples, families & single Dad’s who had their children for the weekend & the lake was an attraction in itself.  People swam & sunned themselves, then retreated to one of the bars for sundowners to get out of the rain.  The resort was a place for fun, frolic & hosted live music events.  Jody Wayne was just one of many local artists who played this resort.

The price of gold & uranium dropped, causing the mines to close.  Closures meant that mines were abandoned.  Water levels in these mines kept rising until the acid drainage seeped into the dam & the resort finally closed due to safety concerns.  Uranium levels in the water rose to 220 times over the limit regarded as safe.   

Jody Wayne & Gwynneth Ashley Robin

Jody Wayne met Gwynneth when was booked to play the resort.  Impressed by her talent, he took an active interest in the young singer & was largely responsible for creating & promoting the career of the little girl who would become Gwynneth Ashley Robin .  He wrote & produced most of his protege’s material & helped her to secure a recording contract with Teal records.

And she’s off

Gwynneth’s first single, Lolly Lu did not do as well as expected, but that was soon forgotten when she recorded Little Jimmy, a catchy youthful tune penned for her by Jody Wayne.  The Osmonds – an American group – were popular worldwide. The hype caused by their string of hits resulted in the pop media quipping the term, “osmondmania”.  Jimmy Osmond released a single of his own at the tender age of 10.  In 1973 his record, Long Haired Lover from Liverpool  shot up the charts all over the world.  It sat at #1 on the Rhodesian charts for a solid 8 weeks, & was very well received in South Africa too.

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Download Little Jimmy from Amazon here

Pop music can be fickle.  Whether it was artful timing or artistry itself, the combination of Wayne’s song sang by the then 12-year-old Gwynneth Ashley Robin hit the jackpot.  It surfed up the charts in the slipstream of Jimmy Osmond’s success, the perfect answer/tribute/follow-up to the cheeky Long Haired Lover …. ditty.  Gwynneth’s record received worldwide attention partly due to the vacuum created by Jimmy Osmond’s recording.  Both records were cute, & appealed to young teenagers & their smiling parents alike.  Little Jimmy proved to be the biggest hit song of Gwynneth’s short life – It also opened doors for her.  Little Soldier Blue  was her next hit.  It made no 3 on the Rhodesian charts the following year.

Awards & Recognition

  • Discovered by Jody Wayne
  • Little Jimmy received worldwide play
  • South Africa’s Most Promising Female Vocalist –  Springbok (Mini-Sarie) Award
  • Toured  with the “Meet The Stars” show

Entertaining the Troops

Gwynneth Ashley Robin was one of many artists who supported & raised funds to help support the troops, especially in Rhodesia.  Others include John Edmond, Clem Tholet.

Tragic Death

Thursday, 20 May 1976, some sources say 21 May….. the 15-year-old has her young life cut short.
Update/Correction
I recently received a kind correction, from Margy, a first hand source, settling the date question once and for all.  The accident happened on Friday 21st May 1976.
Thank you very much for taking the time & care to correct us.
Another report said:

The light aeroplane, a (Cessna 210,  ZS-JPW) in which the young singer Gwynneth Ashley Robin and band members (including Danie Schoeman, Vic Rall and Robby Potts) are travelling to a concert, crashes at Penge, Eastern Transvaal (Mpumalanga) Their bodies were discovered two days later.The pilot, his wife and their infant child were also killed. Apparently this accident was a classic case of controlled flight into terrain, while en route to Phalaborwa.

 

Soldier Blue on YouTube

 

Singles: Lolly Lu, Little Jimmy, Little Soldier Blue,Eenie Meenie Minie Mo, Johnny Love, Good Morning World, Good Morning, Zoo Lake, Calender Boy, Stairway To Heaven, Tesame, As Ek ‘n Lied Kon Skryf

Albums: Gwynneth Ashley Robin featuring “Little Jimmy”, Greatest Hits, 1997 Little Jimmy – Her Greatest Hits Dawn Music

Compilation Albums: 1994 The Best Of South African Pop Volume 1 features ‘Little Jimmy’, 1995  Yesterday’s Best Vol 2 features ‘Little Soldier Blue’, 1999 The Wonder Of Your Love (1999) features ‘Little Soldier Blue’, Afrikaanse Goue Jare features ‘As Ek ‘n Lied Kon Skryf’

For more information, please checkout the links below which provide source material.

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Please feel free to let me know if anything is inaccurate, needs fixing or if you have anything you would like to add.

Citations & sources:

SA History

Gwynneth Ashley Robin BIO

SA Rock Files

Last FM

Uranium levels in Robinson Lake 

Plane Crash

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