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by Tony Roma
posted 06/12/2020

Vale Rob E Thomas

We’re deeply saddened to learn that our dear friend, broadcaster, singer and actor Rob E Thomas died this morning following an unwavering fight against brain cancer.

Rob was a tremendous artist who we were lucky enough to have grace our airwaves as a Jammin’ presenter for over a decade. His love of jazz, particularly vocal, helped garner a loyal following of listeners who would religiously tune in every Saturday morning for his 3 hour extended program. In their eyes and ears, Rob was Eastside Radio. He epitomised what our programs should be about. Live every week without fail, with a tremendous amount of effort put in to the songs selected and a good rapport through sharing personal anecdotes and feelings, especially towards his beloved Tigers.

Long before we came to know Rob through Community Radio, he was a successful pop star. In January 1966  The Beatles We Can Work It Out was at Number 1 on the Top 40 chart, The Seekers were at number 2 with The Carnival Is Over and Rob Thomas was at number 10 as Bobbie Thomas and the Beaumen with Lavender Blue.

The 1970’s were spent touring the Variety and Club circuit with The Thomas Brothers duo and as a solo artist and following his interest in theatre, Rob graduated as an actor from NIDA in the 80’s. He cherished his 1206 performances singing in the ensemble of Les Miserables. Rob also appeared in Aspects of Love and developed his alter ego, saloon singer Tony Delarte, performing solo in cabaret and corporate venues. His foray into Community Radio followed, alongside singing swing with Big Bands in Sydney.

When an opportunity presented itself to return to the musical theatre stage, around 2014, Rob chose instead to pour his heart and soul into a new jazz-influenced album, Who Am I? The resulting release was a fine work of wonderfully arranged and performed modern interpretations of big band, swing jazz and pop classics. The Chicago classic rearranged below by Graeme Jesse is a standout song on the album.

There are many ways in which we’ll miss Rob here at Eastside Radio. From lugging bags and bags of CDs out the door after each show rushing on his way to work; to the closing theme of Till Bronner every Saturday morning; plus his real friendship with his audience such as Madeleine, Alex and Mary and Chez just to name a few; not to mention his love of being probably the only presenter to play The Velvet Fog here nearly every week.

We’re sincerely thinking of Jen, his wonderful and supportive wife, who helped Rob continue his on air role right until the end.

Thanks for the memories Rob…we’ll miss you here at Eastside Radio.

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