Rob Davison was born in Walthamstow in 1958. Early in the 60s, following the family's purchase of their first record player (a new shiny Rediffusion radiogram) he developed a fascination with music and, more importantly, with records. He says it changed everything. Music was a big part of family life with a soundtrack provided by his older siblings' following the pop scene and his mother's taste in the MOR acts of the day and being an avid showtunes and musicals fan.
With an early preference for Motown and soul Rob expanded his interest and knowledge by working in the local record shop in Highams Park (The Record Centre, in Hale End Road), waiting for his school days to end and trying to find a way into the music business. Like most high profile careers it was difficult to get a start. He ended up taking jobs in local government and engineering, before seeing an ad in the Waltham Forest Guardian for a New Release Coordinator at Phonodisc - the record pressing plant he never knew was just around the corner. "I was very lucky, my time in the business was always about making the products - what better place to start than at the beginning...."
He worked at the Factory for two years before moving to Polydor and Phonogram in the West End and then to the distribution plant in Chadwell Heath. "The move back to distribution was, at first, disappointing as I thought I wanted to get into marketing, for which I needed to be in the central London, actually it set me up well for the future"
It did that as, after coordinating LP releases by the likes of Dire Straits, ABC, Dexys, The Bee Gees, The Jam and others, he moved to be a print buyer for the sleeves and artwork for further releases. In 1983, he was seconded onto the team supervising the carefully controlled release of the CD format. "The investment and commitment to CD by Philips was amazing. Of course, we know now that it paid off"
It paid off for Rob too by giving him the edge over other applicants for a prime job at RCA Records, setting up the CD manufacturing contracts around the world and coordinating the company's rapid entry into the new market.
He organised the production of the first Elvis CDs; the first Motown and Glenn Miller and many important classical works; current releases for the likes of the Eurythmics, Hall and Oates, Stevie Wonder and Lionel Richie; He helped bring together the production of the Arista/Ariola CD catalogue with RCA after the merger in 1984 and ran the combined CD manufacturing for the european companies until the joint venture was bought out by Bertlesmann in late 1986 (forming BMG).
In 1987 he formed the label Blue Moves with two friends which, although did not acheive great commercial success, issued a handful of well received releases by Rick Kelly and Pop Art.
Whilst his career has moved on to other things (he now works for a marketing communications group), he retains an interest in all things records and music and recalls his past experiences in the business, expressing his views on releases old and new regularly on his blogs (Pick n Mixed and the Lost Record Covers Club).
"My decision to try and write about this came from a number of directions. An affection for my days with one of the majors at a boom time; the dissappointment in finding no representation of the factory, despite its importance, at the local Walthamstow Vestry House Museum; finding people interested in the stories I'd posted on the blog and; finding others doing the same - speaking of the place in high regard. Perhaps there was a story worth telling"
"I'm not rushing this as it's important to get it right - any support I can get from people out there will obviously help"