Arts DEVO: Chico’s guitarist

Rest in peace, Charlie Robinson

Charlie Robinson with Greg D'Augelli. (Photo by Ken Pordes)
Jason Cassidy

In 1945, Charlie Robinson scored his first guitar gig, playing Saturday night dances at The Diamond Springs Hotel, in the heart of California’s Gold Country, for $5 a week. “The band was booked to play from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., but I could only play until midnight because of the child labor laws,” Robinson said during a recent phone interview. “I was only 12 years old at the time.” —from “Just play music,” by Ken Smith [Chico News & Review, 11/29/2022]

Butte County lost a legend last week. On April 10, Charlie Robinson died peacefully, surrounded by his family. He was 90 years old.

Robinson’s impact on the local music community can’t be overstated. His wide smile, under a signature white mustache, is an iconic image, an instantly recognizable figure on North State stages for nearly eight decades.

Charlie Robinson (Photo by Alan Sheckter)

As impressive as his longevity and virtuosic playing—of classical, flamenco, country and especially jazz styles—were, it was in teaching where he made his deepest mark, something beautifully expressed in his obituary:

His teaching transcended mere technicality; each lesson became a gateway to a profound musical and philosophical exploration. Students who entered his tutelage found themselves on a transformative journey, not just in music but in life. Charlie’s teachings extended far beyond scales and chords; they encompassed invaluable life lessons, shaping not just musicians but good-hearted individuals navigating the complexities of existence.

There will be a public viewing for Robinson at Newton-Bracewell Funeral Home (680 Camellia Way), Monday, April 22, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Keep on rockin’ in the free world, indeed

It seems like a lifetime ago that John Imp, Eric Imp and Scotty Imp’s collective fire was engulfing the stage at Duffy’s Tavern, drawing all of Chico’s fun-seekers to the heat of another downtown party. In 1999, The Imps dropped their definitive release, K.R.F.W., and now 25 years have passed! It actually was a lifetime ago!

To mark the occasion, the record has been remastered and re-released on the usual streaming platforms. I’ve had it on repeat for two days and it sounds stronger and still as fun as ever. Now, how do we get it on the Duffy’s jukebox?

(Rest in power, John McCall.)

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