Robbo by Drax Wd

“I first met Robbo in late 1985. I’d seen his name up & down the canal near my house & I suppose if I’m honest I wanted to meet him. Then one day he bowled down the Regent’s canal near my house & introduced himself with a massive handshake. I was about 4 years older than him, but you wouldn’t have thought so. A lot of us graffiti writers start off lacking confidence. that’s why we embrace the notion of ‘anonymous fame’. I knew fucking nobody & thus had none, but this 15 year old 6ft 8′ man-child with his black wedged hair cut & ankle swinger jeans that hung 2 inches above his shoes he oozed it coz he was ‘already’ somebody within the scene. He was Robbo of NLA the North London Artists & his tags already looked crisp, unlike the crap I was then representing myself with. I was a bit in awe, even though he was still really ‘just a kid’. I didn’t know it then, but an almost 30 year friendship was born.

In late 1986 I went Inter-railing with a mate & when I returned the crew that I had become part of TDK (Tone Def Krew – it’s members were Robbo, Me, Choci, Doze, Snap & Reez) had fallen apart & Robbo & Doze had started WRH (We Rock Hard) Immediately they set about taking out train lines with a vengeance. First the Victoria line, then the Northern & then a total take over of The Central line. By mid 1987 they were the Kings of that line & to my great honour I’d started to be invited along on missions. Farringdon, Woodford, Loughton, Golders Green, Neasden, Stanmore, Cockfosters, Boston Manor etc. I went on many raids with the WRH crew, which now included Choci-Roc: A B-boy/Punk lunatic from Cambridge who drove us on to even further levels of daring-ness with stories about him bombing the trains in NYC with Kel, Mare, Kase2 & a host of other legendary names. Robbo & Doze may indeed have have perfected the regimented WRH train bombing recipe, but Choci gave it flavour. Either that or he’d drop a big log on the driver’s seat & have us all cracking up in horror! Going yard with these guys was always thrilling. Half stealth mission/half poo fiasco. Doze & Robbo would bomb each side of each car in as much of the yard as they could reach. Meanwhile Choci (If he was present) would get in the trains, bomb insides like a man possessed & leave a gift for the driver. 1 night at Stanmore I remember Doze & Robbo going around the yard in practiced military style bombing each carriage in a pre-planned spot. sometimes Robbo took the doors, or Doze took the last panel on each car. It was always ‘uniformed’. On this night I came after them, bombing wildly, pretty much anywhere I chose. Choci came last, but he only had a selection of pens (a big selection) so technically he was ‘filling the gaps’. I’ve never seen Jubilee trains bombed like that before or since. They were a mess! The next night we went to Neasden & concentrated on hitting the Jubilee trains (no one in their right mind did that!) that were in there. For a week or so we had almost every train on that line. I stood at the end of the platform at Finchley rd station for hours watching our trains roll in & out & reveled in the notoriety that rolling with ‘a top crew’ can bring you. WRH, which also included Prime & Pic were definitely the top train bombing crew in London at that time & Robbo was there undisputed leader. I’m proud to have rolled with them!

Sometime in 1991 ‘for reasons unknown’ Me, Robbo & Elk founded another crew. We called it PFB! Unlike many other crews at that time PFB was not a hip-hop inspired one. Infact it wasn’t/isn’t really a graffiti-crew at all. It’s more of a rabble, a mob, a drinkers clique or a bunch of hooligans who just happen to do a little bit of graffiti as well. Some members don’t even do that! PFB stands for whatever you want it to. Shun calls it ‘Paranoid Free Basers’, Elk likes ‘Prophets From Bethlehem’ or ‘Beyond’. I’ve always been fond of ‘Pussy-Football-Beer’. Mint (RIP) liked to call it ‘Paddies Fighting Back’ so naturally Robbo favored ‘Patriots From Britain’ such was Robbo’s nature, he loved a wind-up or to agitate people & ‘get them going’. Alas he loved Mint too & I remember how cut up he was when he passed away a few years ago. On the way home from Mint’s wake we hit up some shutters with paint & Robbo rocked a big fat ‘RIP Mint – Paddies Fighting Back!’ .

During the late 80′s/Early 90′s Me & Robbo did a lot of graff together. We painted some crap that hopefully the photos will never come to light, but we also painted some things that have I suppose ‘stood the test of time’ & dare I say ‘become iconic’. The window-down whole-train we did at Moorgate in late 1989 being an obvious example. The truth is I’ve no idea how we did half of that stuff as we were up to our necks in various facets of the rave scene. If you think Robbo was a ‘legendary’ graff writer then you should have seen the geezer ‘partying’. Le-gen-da-ry!’. One night we were in a chill-out lounge or some kind of similar gaff. Lava lamps & all that bollocks! & me & Robbo got deep into graffiti talk. Consumed by the night’s excesses we disintegrated into ‘I love you mate’ territory & I invited him to join WD. He hugged me (I think I was spared a sloppy kiss on top of the head – but maybe not) & then begged my apology that he had never asked me to join WRH. ‘No! I said in a moment of horror ‘WRH’s uniqueness is in it’s small membership’ I rambled on ‘It’s not one of these crews with loads of members & anyway’ . . . ‘Hold up! Hold up!’ said Robbo (He’d turned a bit serious) ‘I wernt gonna invite you into the crew you cheeky cunt I was just apologizing for the fact that I hadn’t!’ Then he eyeballed me with a look that said ‘This conversation is over’. I never mentioned this buzzed-up, rave conversation again, but a little while later he started putting WD up. I was honoured!

In 1992 Me & Robbo dida lot of travelling & painting. Inter-railing around Europe, Jamaica, New York where we painted trains. Blah blah blah you’ve heard it all before. Sorry, but I’ll never forget those times, they were some of the best of my life. 2 geezers from Islington/Hackney rolling in Kingston/Jamaica where no pair of white clowns should roll. We pulled into a petrol station at one point & a cheeky little black kid (about 7 years old) pointed his fingers at us & said ‘boom boom Whitey’. We looked at each other in horror & thought ‘what the fuck are we doing around here’. A short time later we were 2 wide eyed ‘young-men’ walking in the shadows of those that inspired us, writing our humble irrelevant names on the sides of New York train carriages. Some people don’t even have the opportunity in life to dream dreams like the ones that we have ‘lived’. Many are too poor or hungry to embrace the ‘childish passions’ that we embrace. Many are too enslaved or down-trodden to even contemplate the stupidity that we ‘aspire to’. It’s a fact that many of us ‘don’t even know we are born yet’. I will never take for granted how lucky I am that I have walked in the footsteps of Kings with a King & Lived the dream. Thank you Robbo.

If I had another 5 hours to spare I’d happily tell you some more great stories of my mate Robbo. Some hilarious, some just funny & others fucking tragic. There’s loads: Mine, Doze & his attempt to paint Farringdon sidings – Fuck up or wot!, 6 to 1 against the Mancs at Kings cross, Meeting ‘The chemist’ in Amsterdam & waking up in a police station in a paper suit – ‘Who’ve I killed?’, The night he ‘cuffed’ Banksy around the chops – The real version!, The story of the ecstasy cigarettes – ‘Whatever you do don’t forget that these are ecstasy cigarettes! – Oh No!!!’, Saint Robbo – from the time he made a deaf n dumb Thai girl talk, Boston Manor yard – a night in the bushes with the WRH puff-head crew – in the end we just walked the lines & caned all the stations, On the march v Tottenham – in Tennis shorts – ‘Oooh we make the Y*ds fall down’. There’s loads . . . . & If you’re really unlucky you’ll probably find me still warbling & ranting on about some of them late tomorrow night. Excuse me please. He was my mate.”


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