Robert John – “Sad Eyes”


Introduction to Robert John

Born Robert John Pedrick Jr. in 1946, Robert John is an American singer-songwriter possessing a falsetto voice. It can be heard on a couple of his Top 10 singles “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” (1972) and his best-known song “Sad Eyes” (1979). He reached the pinnacle of his career with the smooth ballad “Sad Eyes,” which topped the charts in 1979. After that, he released other singles but none of them would make the same impact as “Sad Eyes” did. John’s last charting single so far was 1984’s “Greased Lightning” which made a dent only on the dance music chart.

Early life and career

Robert John is an American pop/folk/R&B singer-songwriter. He was born Robert John Pendrick, Jr. in Brooklyn, New York in 1946.

John has been in the music industry ever since he was very young; in 1958, at only 12 years old, he was billed as Bobby Pedrick who scored his first charting single with “White Bucks and Saddle Shoes” (penned by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman). In the 1960s he became the lead singer with the short-lived group Bobby and the Consoles. Later on he changed his name to a simpler Robert John. By then he had also recorded for Shell (1960) and Duel (1962) labels, both of which became unsuccessful.

John eventually signed to MGM and then to its subsidiary Verve Records where he released a couple of singles, both of which failed to make a dent on the charts. he moved to Columbia Records in 1967, and released a string of singles including the minor top 50 hit “If You Don’t Want My Love” (which he co-wrote) and Harry Nilsson’s “Don’t Leave Me.” John also collaborated with writing partner Mike Gately during the former’s tenure at Columbia.

First hit with “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”

Robert John had a very short stint at A&M in 1970 before moving to Atlantic Records. In 1972 he released his own rendition of the Tokens’ 1961 smash record “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” It went to the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 at #3, while it went to #6 on the adult contemporary singles chart. The single sold really well, lifting about over a million copies, guaranteeing it with a “gold disc” status.

Biggest hit with “Sad Eyes”

In 1979 John, by then recording for EMI America, achieved the biggest hit of his career with “Sad Eyes.” Johns wrote the song himself, and “Sad Eyes” featured his distinctively falsetto vocals. It reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 that year, and #10 on the Billboard’s adult contemporary singles chart. It also made it to the UK Top 40 at #31.

Later career

No more hits as big as “Sad Eyes” were forthcoming for Robert John. His last Top 40 hit was his cover of Eddie Holman’s “Hey There Lonely Girl,” (#31 pop, #10 adult contemporary) which featured again his characteristic falsetto While the hits were now behind him he still continued to record — next for Arista Records and then to Motown Records where he had his last charting record on the pop charts with “Bread and Butter” in 1983.

John’s newer version of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” appeared on his compilation CD in 1992.

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