Bass My Fever spoke with Angel, and White Lion, bassist Felix Robinson. Excerpts from the interview appear below.

BMF: Let’s start from your beginnings. How did you come to electric bass? 

FR: My first musical instrument was piano…By my early teens I had acoustic and electric guitars and was learning the latest rock and pop music of the early sixties. St. Louis was a sizable city with a variety of really great local performers – Chuck Berry, Ike and Tina – and a host of local names who were just as talented,  so I soaked up everything I could find on radio, records, and local TV….There were lot’s of guitar players but very few playing bass, so I took the bass parts and detuned my guitar, then soon bought a bass and, applying what I had learned from piano and orchestrated bass clef chord construction, quickly adapted.  We were playing the high school parties, dances, and talent shows. While still in high school I joined a regional group that had actually released records and were performing paying gigs at night clubs and events. I was 17 years old. The day after I graduated high school I left St. Louis and went to Las Vegas with that group, where we played 5 sets a night in a casino showroom from 12 to 5AM. So,  I locked into playing Bass professionally before I turned 18. 

BMF: Would you like to tell us about how your long path shared with Angel started? 

FR: In 73-76 I was back living in St. Louis..A friend who owned the largest sound system company in the area called me and suggested I should come to a show at the Fox Theatre he was working with, and to see a new band out of LA (Angel). He said “these guys are getting a lot of hype, and they really need a good bass player”.  I went, sat at the main console, and watched the entire show (Starz opened) and went backstage after, met the band and crew. My impression from watching the show was that their songs were different and interesting, but their live performance was plodding and without enough drive. However, the image and presentation had something really cool and appealing…[After moving to L.A.] ...I got a call to join a songwriting session for [Angel’s] next album, White Hot  Frank, Punky, Greg and I spent a few days putting ideas together and forming the basic arrangements of several new tunes. As we’re building these new songs I’m thinking “why should I compose bass parts that their existing bass player, though limited in skill can play, when the tune really needs something much more aggressive and creative?” So, I created parts – precise parts – that I knew the songs needed,  The hell with ghosting parts that made no use of my playing skills.  I remember saying once, “I’m not sure that your bass player will be able to learn these parts, so if you need, I can work with him to help, but what makes more sense is to have me handle the recording, or maybe find a better bassist for your band”.  Later, we did a live rehearsal and shortly after that I got a call from their manager who asked “Felix, how would you like to be the next bassist for Angel?” I know there are Angel fans who prefer the band as it was during the first three albums, and have an affinity for the early versions. I totally understand. But when we started rehearsing and recording, and especially when we began rehearsals for the next tour, there was an atmosphere of excitement and freshness, even of the older material, that made us all feel great and have a lot of fun…

BMF: I suppose that the idea of getting the band back together was automatic and probably it must have been proposed to you a lot of times. What can you say about that? What’s your relationship with the other members of the band?

FR: You may know that we all got together a short time ago (2016) in Vegas where we received an award, and man, was that great Just sitting together, at one point alone before the event, enjoying making fun of everything and ourselves, how can that not be the best?  Yes, we seriously discussed the idea of getting together for some shows. 

It’s not impossible to pull off. Punky and I have played together on his latest record and at a couple of gigs and Frank joined us for a tune on that record. Lately,  Frank and Punky have been doing shows all over the place. I know it’s not the whole band, but maybe there will develop enough investment interest to fund an actual reunion.  There is an independent film in development that will depict the history of Angel and we are excited about that.

BMF: You have played on a much-acclaimed album, the first work of White Lion called, Fight To Survive. We know that your relationship with the band was ruined along the way. Could you tell us what happened and why you didn’t continue to play with them?

FR: I was one of the four formative members and was responsible for building their songs from ideas into compositions ready to record, as well as all bass, backing vocals and some keyboards on the first album, as well as co-authorship of some songs on their second and third albums. But, there were problems with Elektra after the first record was completed and I could not see a future for me with that situation. I quit, and then had to sue the band and their management for my fair share, which they tried, but failed to conceal and that’s the story. I won the legal challenge, got paid, they changed the album cover and credits, and everybody moved on. I have no bad feelings toward the guys because I could see the causes of the situation and, frankly, it looked to me as if the way things were set up for them contractually was going to benefit the managers, the lawyers, the record companies – the fix was in, so that’s where the money went – by design. I’m thinking of asking Vito to play on one of my next recordings…he is a very special guitar player and we had a great time creating that first album. I also stay in touch with Nick Capozzi, who is an exceptional drummer. We’ve discussed playing together. It would be great if we could include Vito in that plan.

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