On Tuesday 13th October BASCA, in association with the Musicians’ Union, presented Tom Robinson with a Gold Badge Award in recognition for his outstanding contribution to British Music.

Here, on behalf of BASCA, journalist Mark Sutherland profiles Tom’s career to date:

F Scott Fitzgerald might have once said that there were no second acts in American lives, but for Tom Robinson (who is, admittedly, British), nothing could be further from the truth.

Robinson was one of the most feted songwriters and political musicians of the ‘70s and ‘80s, his Tom Robinson Band enjoying huge hits such as 2-4-6-8 Motorway and Glad To Be Gay, as well as spearheading the Rock Against Racism movement. He went on to form another successful group, Sector 27, co-write songs with Elton John and have a massive solo hit with War Baby.

But while he continues as an active songwriter and musician – recently recording Only The Now, his first album in 20 years – his second career as a radio DJ and champion of new talent is now every bit as prominent.

Robinson first became a radio presenter on the BBC World Service in the mid-‘80s and has gone on to present shows on all of the corporation’s national radio networks. He won a Sony Award for his GLR documentary about gay musicians, You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away, but it was when he joined BBC 6 Music for its 2002 launch that things really took off.

Robinson has been a fixture of the alternative music station ever since, one of the few original DJs to still be on air and a key figure in saving the station when it was threatened with closure in 2010. Throughout, he’s displayed tireless enthusiasm for championing new music: his shows always look forward and rarely look back, and very few acts have come through in recent years without with the help of early on-air support from him.

That support also features on his Fresh On The Net blog, featuring new independent music picks and invaluable music business advice from someone who’s been there, done it and sold thousands and thousands of T-shirts. He dispenses further wisdom via songwriting workshops and the lecture circuit.

All of which makes Robinson a rare example of a songwriter who’s enjoyed the view from the summit but also remembers what it’s like at Base Camp, and is happy to dispense climbing tips. Tom Robinson has written countless brilliant songs, but also helped countless other brilliant songs find their audience. As he picks up his Gold Badge, we look forward to his third act.

(c) Mark Sutherland 2015