Robin Millar

Robin John Christian Millar, CBE (born 18 December 1951) is an English record producer, musician and businessman, known variously as 'The Original Smooth Operator', 'The man behind Sade', and 'Golden Ears' [Boy George]. Born in London to an Irish father and West Indian mother he has conquered blindness to become one of the world's most successful ever record producers with over 150 gold, silver and platinum discs and 55 million record sales to his credit. His 1984 production of 'Diamond Life' the debut album by Sade was named one of the best ten albums of the last 30 years at the 2011 Brit Awards. He has developed and run a string of successful businesses in car hire, music recording and publishing and is currently Executive Group Chairman of the Blue Raincoat Chrysalis Group, which handles 150 artists and thousands of iconic songs, including “Simply The Best” and “Nothing Compares To You”.

Robin Millar
Birth nameRobin John Christian Millar
Born (1951-12-18) 18 December 1951
OriginTottenham, London, England
GenresPop, R&B, rock, Latin, indie, punk, jazz, film music
Occupation(s)Record producer, arranger, composer, musician, DJ, academic, public speaker, philanthropist
InstrumentsKeyboard, guitar, bass guitar, percussion, drums
Years active1975–present
Associated actsSade, Fine Young Cannibals, Big Country, Everything But The Girl, Randy Crawford, Patricia Kaas

He has worked as a fundraiser for vulnerable people for 30 years and in March 2012 Millar underwent a 12-hour operation to install a bionic retina in his right eye to help research into future treatment for blindness.

He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2010 Birthday Honours.[1]

Early life

Millar was born with retinitis pigmentosa at St George's Hospital, which is now The Lanesborough Hotel, Hyde Park Corner.[2] Despite poor vision he attended mainstream state school Enfield Grammar School from 1963–70 and then read law at Queens' College, Cambridge from 1970–73.[2]

Musical career

After gaining his law degree,[3] Millar moved into the music industry initially as a guitarist and artist, putting out records with Atlantic and WEA and working with ex-Velvet Underground singer Nico. He found his niche as a record producer in the early 1980s when he started Power Plant Studios. Power Plant became the most fashionable haunt of the London 1980s music scene. After working with post punk band Weekend in 1982, his breakthrough came in 1984 with seven consecutive Top 10 albums; including Eden by Everything but the Girl, Working Nights by Working Week, and especially the multi-platinum selling Diamond Life by Sade.

Production on other significant hit records in the period include Fine Young Cannibals (Fine Young Cannibals), Colin Hay (Looking for Jack), Big Country (The Seer), Patricia Kaas (Je te dis vous), Kane Gang, Bhundu Boys and Randy Crawford amongst others. Millar arranged the music for the film, And Now... Ladies and Gentlemen...[4] Millar's song "Rich and Poor", co-composed with Colin Vearncombe, was recorded by Randy Crawford on her 1989 album, Rich and Poor.[5] His 2003 solo album, Kiss and Tell was released by the Nujaz record label.[6]

Millar has worked as producer, arranger, musician, songwriter and mixer, with Eric Clapton, John Mayall, Sting, Chrissie Hynde, Alison Moyet, Brand New Heavies, Sir Willard White, Ruthie Henshall, Go-Betweens, Kane Gang, The Style Council, Herbie Hancock, Courtney Pine, Wayne Shorter, The Christians, Plastic Bertrand, Gibson Brothers, Mick Hucknell, Elvis Costello, Peter Gabriel, Zakir Hussein, Bill Summers, Bruce Hornsby, Airto Moreira, Baba Olatunji, Michel Legrand, Anita Hegerland, Some Like It Hot, Johnny Hates Jazz, China Crisis, Jocelyn Brown, Yusuf Islam, Big Audio Dynamite, Gil Scott Heron, Jalal, Tracey Spencer, Françoise Hardy, Malcolm McLaren and Catherine Deneuve].

His productions have sold over 55 million copies worldwide and have been awarded 150 platinum, gold and silver awards. They have won every major music award including Grammy and Brit Awards.

He is also a champion for vulnerable people and was awarded the 2002 Windrush Award for this work. He has made campaigning records and produced fund-raising concerts as Patron for UNICEF, UNHCR, Oxfam, Namibian Freedom Fighters, Chilean Solidarity and Oxfam. He is a long-time trustee of The Vietnamese Boat Peoples' Appeal.

Millar trained as a recording engineer, classical and jazz musician and arranger, and has trained dozens of top engineers and producers, including Jim Abbiss, the producer of Arctic Monkeys and Adele. He also works as a mentor and inspirational guide to FTSE business leaders and people in the public eye, with famous clients from the world of business, music and politics.

In 2005, he produced MP4's EP album "House Music" which included a version of The Beatles', "Can't Buy Me Love".[7] In 2010 he produced the 12 track MP4 album "Cross Party". In 2016 he brought together MPs, professional musicians, students and the Thurrock Community Chorus for a charity recording of 'You can't always get what you want' in aid of the Friends of Jo Cox MP [8].

Millar is a patron of The Music Producers Guild, which he helped found in 1987.

Millar was executive producer of the major worldwide series of concerts to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of Édith Piaf, with shows in Carnegie Hall, New York, The Royal Albert Hall London and major venues in France, Germany, Russia, Europe and the Far East. He has been collaborating with Australian singer/songwriter Eran James whom he met through Elton John in 2010.

He is currently Chairman of Chrysalis Records Ltd and Blue Raincoat Music, who handle the careers of Cigarettes After Sex and Phoebe Bridgers and the music recordings of Ultravox, Sinead O’Connor, The Specials, Debbie Harry, Billy Idol’s Generation X and Everything But The Girl and a song catalogue that includes ‘The Best’ global hit sung by Tina Turner and music from the original Woodstock Festival.

Charity work promoting skills and training

Millar was a founder trustee of the National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural Skills from 2009. He personally championed the building of the Backstage Centre at High House Purfleet as part of a regeneration project in Thurrock alongside the Royal Opera House's production facilities and ACME Studios. The building was created to meet industry best-practice standards, including a large technical and rehearsal space and recording studio, for students to train in apprenticeships alongside industry professionals who use the space. It is now owned by the National College for Creative Industries.

He was a trustee of Creative & Cultural Skills UK from 2009 to 2016. He is a trustee of The Vietnamese Boat Peoples Appeal, a patron of anti-suicide organisation the Campaign Against Living Miserably CALM, Global Advisor to the UN Young Voices mission and was Global Ambassador for music for Leonard Cheshire Disability from 2011-2016.

In July 2017 Millar became a founder trustee of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.[9]

Personal life

He was married to American painter Ellen Trillas from 1979 to 1997. They had two children, Scarlett and Crusoe. He has been with his partner and long time friend Shelley Davies for twenty years.

Millar appeared on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs on 20th March 2015.[10]

Production credits

In addition to those listed above, Millar's work as a record producer includes credits on the following:


  1. "No. 59446". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 2010. p. 8.
  2. "Robin Millar". Evening Standard. 10 June 2004. Archived from the original on 10 October 2007. Retrieved 15 November 2007.
  3. "Your stories – Robin Millar". Creative and Cultural Skills. Archived from the original on 30 July 2007. Retrieved 15 November 2007.
  4. Robin Millar on IMDb
  5. – album overview
  6. – album overview
  7. Fife, Clova (13 July 2005). "Parliament to enter the download age: MP4 release Can't Buy Me Love through EMI Music". BPI. Archived from the original on 22 November 2005. Retrieved 15 November 2007.
  8. White, Adam (15 December 2016). "Who's behind the Jo Cox charity single? Plus, everything else you need to know" via
  9. "". Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.
  10. "BBC Radio 4 - Desert Island Discs, Robin Millar". BBC.
  11. – credits
  12. "Pola".
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