Pre Smiths Johnny Marr was the teenage whizz kid who was learning his guitar chops from the older lads in Wythenshawe.

Perhaps the key player in this was Rob Allman – a permanent footnote in all Smiths histories. The pair of them played together in a couple of bands, including White Dice, and Rob was an important musical traveller for a key period of time in the young Marr’s life and also, briefly, pre fame Morrissey.

After moving to Exeter Rob sadly died but not before making friends with Rosie Mullin – who has a folder of his songs which he gave to her and which she is trying to return to Rob Allmans’s niece but without much luck.

If anyone can help please contact Rosie here or email here


This is Rosie’s story here…


Screen Shot 2017-07-08 at 13.00.07‘I’ve been having a search for a certificate for a job interview and I’ve come accross some stuff along the way…anyway, back in the early nineties I had a bedsit in Exeter and upstairs there was a couple, Rob and Pat who always got drunk and argued lots.

Rob would often come down to my room and chat to me as he said it was the only room he could get some peace in. He was a great guitar player and loved to chat about music. He was from Manchester and always told me that, as he hadn’t got famous by the age of 21, his musical career was over!

He also told me that he used to be in the first line up of The Smiths and that he taught Johnny Marr to play guitar! He was a bit of a cynical bastard and quite bitter but he was very talented. He always wore a white suit. He would play me tapes of a band he was in called French Without Tears. He introduced me to Nick Drake’s amazing song, Riverman!

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Eventually he got ill and ended up in hospital. Pat, his girlfriend said that whilst he was in hospital a biographer came to interview him.
The interviewer was called Johnny Rogan and published a book on The Smiths. It turned out that everything Rob had said was true – he had been in the first line up of The Smiths!

Years later I discovered sadly that Rob had died.

Rob left a folder full of his songs in my room.

A couple of years ago, on discovering that Rob had sadly died, I found some chat room on line where his niece was talking about him, saying how special he was and how she had found a demo of when he was in a band called, White Dice with Johnny Marr and how special it was to her. I tried joining the website to tell her about his folder of songs…and that she should have them! But the website was old and so I couldn’t reach her. Billy Duffy had posted on that site sharing memories of Rob. I tried contacting him, explaining that I wanted to pass Rob’s songs on to his niece and did he know how to contact her. I never got an answer.

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Very frustrating…. that folder of songs doesn’t belong to me! It would be great to find a way to get hold of her….but how????

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. John, mate, for the love of god will you please proof-read your work? Better still, find someone else to do it for you.

  2. My sister was married to Robert and he had a daughter, now 30 years old. I’m sure Alex would be interested in her Dad’s work.

  3. I was the bass player in French without Tears with Gary Walton on sax, Chris Stephens on kit, Paul Whittall on keys and a girl called Maria on vocals. Rob was an exceptionally talented songwriter and guitar player. I hadn’t seen Rob since late 1985 when the band broke up but one day in 2003, by chance, met his ex wife Bernadette. She told me that sadly Rob had died in 1993. Rob was one of the most creative musicians I have worked with in over 40 years and deserved success which sadly never came. Unfortunately I don’t know how to contact his neice although I think one of his songs, called “Family”, was about her.

    • Hi Raf, Maria here x Encountered this & have almost fallen in a heap of emotion. So great to see your name together with the reference to FWT, who of course was Rob! Brilliant times that will always be treasured. Chris moved into the house across the road from me (how bizarre is that) & I’ve corresponded with the hugely talented & lovely Paul. As for Gary ‘The Dentist’ Walton I’d love to know how things went for him after dentist school.
      I hope life has treated you well & this has been a truly lovely find xxx

      • Hi Maria, how lovely to hear from you!! Are you still in Altrincham? And are you still with Steve… I think you may be as he was an Ashcroft if I remember. So good to hear from you. Is Chris still over the road? I havn’t heard from Gary “ok cheers” Walton since 1985 although I kept in touch with Chris for a couple of years. I knew Paul W had moved down south but I havn’t seen him since the band broke up. I hope you are well Maria, keep in touch. My mobile is 07803 045174 and e-mail is:

        Drop me an e mail/txt and if you are free in the new year we can have a catch up with Chris!

        It has been a lovely Christmas find!


  4. I think this has got through Maria.

    Forgot to say that I hadn’t heard from Gary.”ok cheers” Walton since 1985 although I kept in touch with Chris for a couple of years after that. I knew Paul had moved down south but also lost contact with him. Is Chris still living across the road from you?

    Talk soon.


  5. Rob was my cousin & was sadly taken too young.
    His funeral at Altrincham Crematorium was attended by Johnny Marr & Billy Duffy.

    His song Sandcastle’s was performed there but can’t recall who sang it.

    • Hi Geoff
      It was me who sang Sandcastles.
      It’s wasn’t Billy Duffy at the funeral, it was his Dad.
      Cheers Paul

  6. Amazing find.
    Remember FWT very well. I worked at Rusholme DHSS with Rob, Bernadette and Maria. Saw FWT a couple of times must have made a real impression remember The Dance Squad and my favourite a beautiful song ‘Much More Than This’.( ‘If six and three were ten and ice was colder etc.)
    Happy days I went out with Joanne Woodall from the office and we have been together 35 years!!
    RIP Rob a true talent, like a firework, burnt so brightly for a short while.
    Raf you were a great bassist.
    Mick Taylor.

    • Yes they were goo times. Living in Devon now with son Archie and would like to know if anyone has any old photos. I am also missing recordings of the last couple of recording sessions featuring numbers like chance would be a fine thing. Still working as musician but just had a small stroke you resting at the mo.
      Love to all
      Paul whittall


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