The Bobs: Helmet

Written by Michael Barrett

Associate Artistic Director, NYFOS

July 27, 2016

Continuing this week’s survey of iconic singing groups, I’m drawing again from my youth. The Bobs invented themselves in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1970’s. They wrote most of their own material. I was in school at UC Berkeley and one of my pals from the music department, Gunnar Madsen had an amazingly droll sense of humor. He told me about this singing group he was trying things out with. Soon the Bobs were in existence and developing a strong following. Gunnar ended up being the main song writer for the group and one of the four singers. Steve Blier flipped for their brilliant part writing and wacky take on the quirkier aspects of human frailty and eccentricity. (Just check out “Through the Wall“) . We’ve included lots of their songs on Nyfos programs over the years, and they inevitably have an immediate effect on the audience. The Bobs got their band name just by adding Bob as each of their middle names. I think it was a riff on old hill-billy names like Billy Bob, Sue Bob, Jim Bob….Here is Helmet (I’ve got my helmet on. Nothing can do me wrong.) sung by the Bobs. I think Gunnar Bob Madsen wrote it.

Michael Barrett

Michael Barrett is the co-founder and associate artistic director of New York Festival of Song, as well as the co-founder and music director of the Moab Music Festival in Utah. A conductor and a pianist, Michael was a protégé of Leonard Bernstein and serves as music advisor to the Leonard Bernstein Estate.

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