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Bobby Arnold Bobby Arnold

British Guitarist

by Graham Lees


One of the finest guitar players on the British music scene, Bobby Arnold has been a premier league performer for many years, earning the respect of fellow musicians and country music fans both at home and abroad. Receiving many standing ovations and well earned applause over the years for his musical prowess, nicer guy you couldn’t wish to meet! Bobby Arnold is one of the friendliest people in country music, always finding the time for a chat and giving the impression that he has got all the time in the world for the country music fans.

His musical career started at about 8 years of age when an elderly neighbour showed him how to strum a few chords on the guitar during the school holi­days. This interest in the guitar grew, with young Bobby starting to take guitar lessons. By his early teens he had joined a group called 'Sound City' in the early 1960's, backing artistes at the Crawfords Social Club, Liverpool and eventually the group moved on to the club circuit, combined with their residency at Crawfords.

During the 60's and 70's Bobby rubbed shoulders with many stars including Tommy Cooper, Diana Dors, Freddie Starr and The Walker Brothers. At this time the cabaret scene was booming with people of all musi­cal tastes, so for a guitarist with the ability to perform dif­ferent styles there was plenty of work in country, rock & roll, jazz clubs.

Bobby’s country music work began in 1967 when be played lead guitar with Johnny Gold & The Country Cousins for a couple of years, prior to joining The Kentuckians. Bobby describes The Kentuckians as, "being on a par with the Hillsiders", releasing several records during the 1970's.  Spanning an 11-year period he toured Europe, visit­ing US bases in places such as Turkey, Naples, Athens, Frankfurt, Rome, Istanbul, Ankara, Adana in addition to England. 

Bobby learnt the various guitar styles by taking a course with George Dickinson, who was with the BBC Light Bobby Arnold on stage at Notts AmericanaOrchestra for many years. Bobby was under the impres­sion that George had ambitions for Bobby to expand in this manner also. Unfortunately Bobby was unable to complete the course as his father passed away and as Bobby said, "I kinda went off the deep end and never finished the course". While working with Johnny Gold & The Country Cousins, Johnny's broth­er taught Bobby how to accomplish the styles of Merle Travis and Chet Atkins.

During the early 1980's Bobby Arnold worked with The Ben Rees Band for about 2½ years, before the group dis­banded. It was while on the final tour with Ben Rees that Bobby's wife took a telephone message from Kenny Johnson asking if Bobby would like to work with Northwind. That was over 15 years ago. Since joining Kenny & Northwind he has worked with Johnny Cash, Sonny Curtis, Billy Joe Spears and many other major artistes. Bobby has many tales to tell of meeting big name artistes; such as the night he once had dinner with Ginger Rogers. It was on a flight from Athens to Brindisi on the Adriatic - via Rome Airport. She was going to Germany and Bobby was on tour with Jerry Naylor, (Crickets) and Dee Dee Patterson, (Platters). Along with Kenny & Northwind, Bobby has also toured Ireland, The Falklands and Belize three times.

A couple of years ago Bobby started playing selective gigs with some good friends from the Merseyside area, Terry Fletcher, Peter Guy and Billy Rivers as the Bar Room Boys, creating an electrifying atmosphere with a wide range of acoustic styled country music, bringing some of the aesthetic textures back to enrich and enhance the country music circuit.

During the early part of 2001 Bobby started to suffer from problems with his throat. Sadly this condition was diagnosed as cancer of the throat and he had to stand down from his work on the country scene for a little while. Undergoing the difficult and horrendous treatment of radiotherapy, fortunately Bobby Arnold had the strength of mind that it takes to fight against this horrible illness. During the summer of 2001, Bobby was pleased to be given the “all clear” by his consultant and returned to the country scene to continue his work with both Kenny Johnson & Northwind and the Bar Room Boys.

You have to see it to believe this man’s talent.  On 1st January Bobby received two awards from North Country Music magazine...Instrumentalist Of The Year and Lifetime Achievement Award.

Though we hoped and prayed that Bobby had triumphed over his condition with cancer, unfortunately it was not to be so and Bobby suffered once again with this dreadful disease as it took hold around the beginning of 2003.

It is with great sadness that I was informed that on Monday 28 April 2003 Bobby Arnold passed away.