Barbara "Sandi" Robison was born Barbara Jeanne Moyer on October 14, 1945 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her mother died near the age of thirty, and subsequently Barbara was raised by her grandparents in a small town named Lagunitas, California (located near San Rafael in Marin County). Growing up, she sang in church and school and quickly became a lead vocalist, and by her early teens she could perform music of many genres, ranging from pop, rock and r&b, to standards, classical and folk.
In high school she began to gravitate more and more toward folk music and started getting into the Sausalito/ Marin folk scene. Barbara was actively listening and was soon introduced to local performers like David Crosby and Dino Valenti. It was in that scene that she met husband-to-be and father of her only child Robbie Robison, a comedic folk singer who performed locally and in Southern California as "Robbie the Werewolf". They began performing as a duo (Bay Area and L.A.), and about the time Barbara finished high school (1963) they moved permanently to Hawthorne in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, playing occasional gigs at beach coffee houses. During this period Robbie worked at a local toy factory to make ends meet, and the two made occasional trips north to perform in Marin.
In late '64, after hearing Barbara (now in a trio with Robbie) perform at the Insomniac in Hermosa Beach, John Merrill, who with Jim Cherniss had a folk group at L.A. State College, asked Barbara if she would be interested in singing on a record they'd started. Their group, The South City Singers (later The Crosswinds), needed a replacement for their singer Cindy Ellis who was getting married and pursuing other fields. Barbara was thrilled, and in January '65, though she only sang backup, her first record "Love Her Everyday"/ "Or Else You'll Cry" (Courtney 746) was released. The record, consisting of two folk flavored rock tunes, was released under the name The Young Swingers-- a name tacked on to them by their producer/ manager.
With the group quickly realizing that her talent was too awesome to be in the background, Barbara fast became the heart of the band's sound, and she sang lead on their next single: April 1965's "Winds Up High"/ "Let's Take Our Love" (Portofino 901). The single consisted of two more folk rock tunes written by Merrill, and near the time of its release the group brought in Barbara's and Robbie's beach folk club acquaintance Alan Brackett on bass, and from L.A. State, drummer Doug Rowe. In late June, Spencer Dryden replaced Rowe, and after a name change and a few gigs, the group had become a self contained, five piece folk rock band (one of the first with female lead) called The Ashes.
In early October of that year, when Barbara was only 19, The Ashes landed a steady gig at the Waleback in Santa Monica. A folk club turned rock (where Brackett had earlier played with his folk group The Hillside Singers, as did Robbie and Barb), the Waleback soon afforded Barbara and Robbie the oppertunity to move into an apartment in Manhattan Beach on 30th Street. It was at the Waleback where Barbara acquired the nickname "Sandi", having used an ID with the name Sandi Moon in order to get in and sing. The name "Sandi" stuck with her through most of the Peanut Butter Conspiracy years.
In Feb. '66, playing six nights a week at the Waleback, The Ashes released their first single "Is There Anything I Can Do?" on Vault Records with "Sandi" singing lead. When Dryden went with the Jefferson Airplane in mid-May of '66, Barbara was nearly six months pregnant. In early June, when the Ashes had finished a two week run at Frenchy's in Hayward and were starting a ten day gig at the Troll in San Jose, she was too far along and had to come off the road. The Ashes disbanded in late June.
After her son Scott was born in early September, Barbara, along with Merrill and Brackett, formed The Peanut Butter Conspiracy. Bringing in Jim Voigt and Lance Fent, they centered themselves in Silverlake on Maltman Ave., and in December (after doing a few recordings for the Vault label) began working on their first LP for Columbia Records, "The Peanut Butter Conspiracy Is Spreading" (see PBC bio and history). In early '67, Barbara and PBC drummer Jim Voigt, together with Scotty, moved into an apartment on Tularosa Street, two blocks from the band house, where they lived during most of the PBC period. Robbie remained in Manhattan Beach, and with Bob Seal and Wanda Watkins, formed the group that would eventually become Clear Light.
When the PBC disbanded in the summer of '69, Barbara joined the L.A. production of Hair and sang lead in that musical for a year and a half. While working with Hair in '70, having moved with her son and Voigt to Ave. 46, Highland Park, she and Merrill performed and recorded as a duo. Later that year, along with a bunch of other L.A. musicians including John Merrill, Barbara and Scotty moved to Big Oak Basin Ranch in Malibu. Living there she still worked for Hair and did session work in town.
In September '71, Barbara, Merrill, and Brackett (briefly), joined the rock band Froggy; a rockin' half original, half cover group who played at the Handlebar Saloon. The Handlebar was a sawdust floored, antique laden, kind of Red Dog Saloon dancehall club set in Pasadena, CA. Around Christmas, Barb moved into the band's house on Ontario St. in Pasadena. While living at that house and working at the Handlebar during early '72, on the way home one night from a jam session at the Topanga Coral, Barbara was seriously injured, her car getting hit by a truck on the Ventura Freeway. She was unconscious for four days but miraculously came back and was up on stage performing in a month or so.
In late '72, wanting to travel and get out of L.A., perhaps back into an environment she had growing up, she and Voigt took an out of town job in Idaho, working in a band led by singer Leon Grimes. Voigt stayed with that group only two or three weeks, but Barbara remained, and eventually coupled with piano player Ivan Jean of that group. Living in Glendora, California, the two formed a band called Rush (not the Canadian band) in Mid '73, and began playing clubs in Arizona and California, enrolling Merrill on guitar, Bob Feit (later with Tina Turner, Joe Cocker) on bass, and Memphis Kenny Pruitt on drums. The disco era came and many club bands, including Rush, dissolved. But Barbara and Ivan continued on for years as a duo playing clubs and hotels across the western U.S., Canada, and Alaska.
Tragically, while playing in Butte, Montana, Barbara became ill, and died of toxic shock poisoning sixteen days later on April 22, 1988 in a hospital in Billings.
Barbara "Sandi" Robison; 1945-1988:
"Love's voice feels dark on you now..."
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