Bob Stanley (musician)

Bob Stanley (born 25 December 1964) is a British musician, journalist, author, and film producer. He is a member of the indie pop group Saint Etienne and has had a parallel career as a music journalist, writing for NME, Melody Maker, Mojo, The Guardian and The Times, as well as writing two books on music and football. He also has a career as a DJ and as a producer of record labels, and has collaborated on a series of films about London. His second publication, Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!: The Story of Modern Pop, was published by Faber & Faber in 2013.

Bob Stanley
Stanley in Essex, 2009
Background information
Birth nameRobert Andrew Shukman
Born (1964-12-25) 25 December 1964
OriginHorsham, Sussex, England
GenresSynthpop, alternative dance, trip hop, indie pop
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter, journalist, DJ
InstrumentsKeyboards, programming, guitar
Years active1990–present
EMI Disc
Associated actsSaint Etienne
WebsiteBob Stanley website

Saint Etienne

Stanley is a member of the group Saint Etienne for which he co-writes songs and produces. Live on stage, he normally plays keyboards.



Stanley was educated at Whitgift School in Croydon, London.[1] After leaving school, Stanley worked in various record shops. While working at Virgin Records in Peterborough he met Andrew Midgley (with whom he would later create the group Cola Boy). The two produced a fanzine called Pop Avalanche in 1986. Stanley also wrote four issues of Caff, a fanzine created with childhood friend Pete Wiggs (with whom he would later create Saint Etienne).

In 1987, Stanley sent an issue of Caff to James Brown, then live reviews editor for NME. This led to Stanley's first commissioned work, a review of a Johnny Cash show in Peterborough. After two years he moved to Melody Maker, where he wrote regularly until Saint Etienne became a full-time occupation in 1991.

Even as Saint Etienne dominated his career, Stanley continued to write occasionally for The Face and Mojo in the 1990s. In the 2000s he has returned to journalism, writing about art and architecture as well as music. He contributes regularly to various publications including The Times and The Guardian.


In 2007, with Paul Kelly Stanley edited Match Day, a book of football programme artwork.

In 2013, Faber and Faber published Stanley's second book,Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop, a history of pop music from the publication of the first British pop chart in 1952 until the advent of iTunes in 2001.[2] An abridged edition was published by W W Norton in the USA in 2014. In 2015, Turner translated into Spanish,Yeah Yeah Yeah: La historia del pop moderno, Spain, ISBN 978-84-16142-22-4

Stanley is working on his third book, Too Darn Hot: The Story of Popular Music.[3] This is scheduled to be published by Faber and Faber in 2020. This book looks at the history of popular music from the start of recorded music until the advent of rock n'roll in the early 1950s. He was the winner of the 2017 Eccles British Library Writers in Residence Award[3] which supports his research for Too Darn Hot using the Library's American collections.


While recording the album Finisterre in 2002, Stanley, Pete Wiggs and frequent collaborator Paul Kelly made a film to accompany the record, also titled Finisterre, which was described by The Observer as a "cinematic hymn to London".[4] It premiered at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London and was screened around the world by one dot zero.

In 2005 Saint Etienne and Kelly were invited by the Barbican Centre to create a film and music event, for which they made What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day, a drama-documentary set in the Lower Lea Valley, the site for the 2012 Olympic Games. In 2007 their third London film, This Is Tomorrow, a history of the Southbank Centre, premiered with a live performance, including a 60-piece orchestra, at the Royal Festival Hall.

Kelly and Saint Etienne collaborated again on How We Used to Live (2014), which has been described as "a cherishable, woozy-hazy trawl of London from postwar days to yuppiedom".[5]

Stanley has curated several film seasons for arts institutions including the Barbican, including Gonna Make You A Star (a series of pop documentaries) and Britain Learns to Rock (early British Rock'n'Roll movies).

In 2016, he was commissioned by 14-18 Now as creative producer on a project to explore the impact of the First World War on the north-east of England. The resulting film and music commission, Asunder, featuring a film directed by artist-filmmaker Esther Johnson, co-produced and scripted by Stanley, and a soundtrack by Field Music and Warm Digits, premiered at the Sunderland Empire in July 2016 and later toured to the Barbican in London.

In 2017, as part of Hull 2017: City of Culture's Mind on the Run season exploring the influence and legacy of jazz composer Basil Kirchin, Stanley co-directed a short film, Abstractions of Holderness, filmed in the isolated area of the east coast of England where Kirchin settled in the 1970s. Pete Wiggs composed the soundtrack, which was performed at the Mind on the Run concert by the BBC Concert Orchestra and various musicians who had collaborated with Kirchin in the past.

Record labels

In the late 1980s/early 1990s, Stanley briefly ran a record label called Caff, which released 17 7" singles, all limited to 500 copies, including early singles by the Manic Street Preachers and Pulp. Between 1992 and 1994, Stanley and Saint Etienne bandmate Pete Wiggs ran the indie label Icerink Records; the most notable act to emerge from this endeavour was the girl-group Shampoo. In 1996, Stanley ran EMIDisc, again alongside Wiggs, backed by EMI Director of A&R Tris Penna. The label was to be an EMI sub-label devoted to new talent. The label was short-lived, releasing albums by Kenickie and Denim. Stanley and Wiggs also previously ran a CD imprint called Eclipse through Universal. Stanley started his own imprint, Croydon Municipal, via Cherry Red in 2012, specialising in music from the mid-twentieth century.

Record collecting

Stanley is known for his large collection of vinyl records. When Saint Etienne are between projects, he DJs, playing generally 1960s and 1970s pop music and soul. With Wiggs, he ran a club called Don't Laugh in the mid-1990s in Maida Vale. Cherrybomb, a girl group night in Bloomsbury, ran from 2006–2009.

He regularly works as a consultant for reissue record labels, notably Ace Records. English Weather, which he compiled with bandmate Pete Wiggs, was named Guardian's Album of the Week in January 2017. He has written liner notes for many reissues, including box sets by Joe Meek, Sandie Shaw and The Searchers.

Personal life

Stanley lives with his girlfriend and their son, dividing his time between London and West Yorkshire.


  2. Sandhu, Sukhdev (6 November 2013). "Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop by Bob Stanley". Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  3. "Bob Stanley on tracing the pre-history of pop music". BBC. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  4. Sean O'Hagan. "St Etienne speak to Sean O'Hagan about their new film | Film | The Observer". Guardian. Retrieved 5 June 2014.
  5. McCahill, Mike (5 June 2014). "How We Used to Live". Retrieved 21 August 2014.
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