Born in Chiswick, West London, Robert Lane-Smith started piano lessons at age five
and studied classical music throughout school and college.
Childhood exposure to the records of Nat King Cole, Hoagy, Fats and Sinatra and the theatre in London resulted in a life-long liking for jazz and musical theatre.
Parental advice to "have something to fall back on" meant graduating in Engineering and a day job. With resposibility in the engineering department (at Pyrene in England and Canefco in Canada) music took a back seat. However, it wasn't long before weekend gigs grew to the point where a switch to full-time entertainment was feasible as well as agreeable. Always a chameleon, Robert's group had two personalities, "The Hawaiianaires" (in which he was Pineapple Smith!) and "The Vibrafive", a George Shearing style quintet with Robert on vibraphone.
Creation of the Cockney character "London Bobby" in his bright pearly suit was a marketing success that resulted in plum bookings, a TV series, a Gold Record and the opportunity to entertain Prince Charles at Expo '86. Interpretations of British music hall songs and comedy produced a unique, bright and humorous act. The Cockney alter ego of Robert Lane-Smith has a ball being "London Bobby".
After a season at Butlin's Holiday Resort in England, Robert Lane-Smith coined the name "The Barmaid's Arms" for a restaurant in Toronto and introduced London Bobby to Canada.
Canada welcomed London Bobby with open arms and a sixteen episode TV
series, At The Pub, for CITY-TV and appearances on CTV and
CBC-TV and concerts across Canada.
The first record album Booze, Birds and Ballads was recorded live at the Barmaid's Arms and 1000 copies were made. It sold out and is now a collector's item. It was augmented and reissued under the title At The Pub and sold 20,000 copies in Canada. The third album Pub Party with a full band and additional singers sold 30,000 in Canada. In Australia it was marketed on TV and sold 100,000 copies, earning a Gold Record.
In Edmonton, Alberta, Churchill's was looking for an entertainer for Klondike Days. London Bobby was the choice every July for 15 years. When Churchill's opened in Waikiki, London Bobby was the headline act there for three years. At Expo '86 he was selected for a six-month engagement at the British Pavilion where he entertained princes and politicians from everywhere.
Robert's predilection for jazz and Broadway ensured that he continued to build that repertoire and currently he is seen on cruise ships with this laid-back act, seated at the piano, singing songs and telling stories from Broadway. Occasionally a London Bobby Pub Night livens things up a little. Between cruise contracts London Bobby still pops up at conventions and casino theatres in Canada and the U.S.