ROBERT "BUDDA" WINTERS
A Tribute To One Of The Greatest Singers Of All Time
Robert Winters, also known as "Budda" by those close to him, was one of the greatest singers. Robert's vocal range was second to none. Robert was the handsome man well known for his 1981 romantic R&B hit "Magic Man", by Robert Winters and Fall.
Robert was from Detroit, the motor city. He suffered polio as a child and used a wheelchair for mobility the remainder of his life. Robert picked up the name "Budda" from sitting in the cross-legged Buddha position so often, but Budda's name was spelled slightly diferently from the enlightened one, Siddha-rtha Gautama's name. Robert sang gospel with his sister when he was young, building not only a strong gospel voice, but also a spiritual strength that flowed from him.
The record companies put Robert behind a piano when he was in the public eye of TV, such as when he was on Soul Train, promoting his hit, "Magic Man", so as not to hurt record sales. So the general public did not know that he had one leg disabled, and sat in a wheelchair. In friends' opinions, he should have been right out front as usual, sitting out front and pedaling away on his wah-wah effect with his good leg, as he always did at gigs. Being blind did not hurt Stevie Wonder's rep. Although some might have considered him handicapped, Robert grabbed all of life's gusto that he could, using his inner love and pure guts to overcome any obstacles. He certainly did not consider himself to be handicapped, and neither did anyone who knew him.
Magic Man influences
Robert sang at the 49ers footbal game, giving his rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. When he got to "The rockets red glare", his voice launched into the sky along with the rockets, in a beautiful falsetto that these folks hadnever heard in the national anthem or anywhere else, followed by a strong, emotionally-filled bass that came straight from the heart- "And our flag was stll there". One can hear it's strength-strength of voice; strength of convictions you can hear in his voice. Robert ends the song "And the home of the " here it comes. The feeling with the sound we all can identify with- "BRA-A-A-VE". The crowd went wild.Star Spangled Banner
Robert was interviewed on public TV at Bear West Studios with his longtime close friend and partner, Walter Fall Turner. Walter, who many thought he looked like Isaac Hayes on Robert's second album cover, was the one who came up with the name "Fall". Walter and Robert were trying names for the new backing group, and Walter suggested "How about the seasons? To go with Winters- Winter, summer, spring , and fall. How about 'Fall' "? So- Robert Winters And Fall was named. Robert's extraordinary outlook on life shined through along with his great sense of humor. Robert speaks about the group he and Walter were forming, called "Blind, Crippled, and Crazy".
During the PBS television interview, Robert was asked to speak out to handicapped people.
Robert's songs are brilliant, with himself doing all of the vocal parts, including background and harmonies. He refers to this as a "cheap demo".
Robert and his wife, Connie, lived in San Francisco in the 80's, and had daughters Sha Crista and Heather. He loved his children dearly, and spent every moment he could with them.
Friends felt priviledged to know Robert. All friends became close friends and loved him. Robert glowed with love and the "superstar aura", and given a little more time he would have "made it " even bigger than he did when his smash hit "Magic Man" was out. Robert spent a lot of valuable time using his incredible vocal talent singing backup vocals for singers not even in his league, but they did pay him well and Robert was a professional. Robert sang R&B, gospel, rock, country, and even did Children's records like Go-Go The Blue Gorilla, where he did all the voices.
Robert performed in nightclubs in the 70's, with his group called "Spic and Spade". The clubs loved him, but did not like their graphic name, which they had to change to "Highway Robbery". (It is rumored his name should have been given to his ex-manager). Highway Robbery included-
- Robert "Buddha" Winters- Lead Vocals, Guitar
- Tina Zeno- Vocals, Trumpet
- Bob Belcher-Drums
- Cliff Dunne- Lead Guitar
- Ernie Mackelway- B3 Organ
- Tito Chavez- Bass
Robert paid his dues for his achievements, and did not give ground, as this heckler in the audience found out.
Robert sang soulful renditions of cover songs at first, but these evolved into jazz and scat singing, his strong voice reaching from deep baritone all the way to the skies with soprano and falsetto highs that blew audiences away. Robert soon introduced his own original songs to the audiences, playing in clubs like The Orphanage in San Francisco, where Robert opened for groups such as Graham Cental Station ( featuring Larry Graham) and Eddie Money. He recorded a tentative hit called "Show Businesss" at the Record Plant in Sausalito, but the mix was changed to cut the ranges of Robert's huge voice to make it sound like other voices in disco, just as the drummer Bob Belcher's lightning- fast fills and cymbal splashes were cut.
Robert moved on to Hollywood after that, forming "Fall" with his partners Walter Turner and Tony Saunders, a group of strong professional musicians, recording many excellent songs . Unfortunately, some never were released. Motor City had arrived in LA when Robert traveled to southern CA to work with songwriter-producer Jimmy George. "Magic Man,"was born; a ballad that caught the attention of the recording giant Clive Davis, who recognized Robert's incredible talent. Magic Man was then released, made the charts and resulted in television appearances such as on "Soul Train". Magic Man was a love ballad that retained its strength and beauty throughout the years.
Magic Man Studio She's My Lover
Robert was fighting an enlarged heart condition for years, and finally passed on due to heart failure in his later years in 1989. The internet is filled with questions about Robert from the people who hear his magic voice even now. This web site is only a small portion of Robert's life and music. Hopefully, some of these home recordings will help people to know just how magic this man's voice really was.
UPDATE 2011- wintersnfall has just released Robert Winters songs which were never released. You can get these at -
Robert was a close personal friend and fellow musician. I hope that people will get the chance to hear Robert sing in all the genres - soul, gospel, rock, blues, jazz, scat, and more. He was talented in far more than just soul love ballads like Magic Man which he was known for. Range? How about singing in 6 octaves? We are talking R-A-N-G-E!
Jim B Cooper- "Coop"
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