Charlatans UK Keyboardist Dead At 32

Tragedy struck as group worked to complete fifth album.

A tragic car accident has left Charlatans UK keyboardist

Robert Collins dead. Collins was 32 years old. The controversial keyboardist, a

founding member of the group, was on his way to Rockfield Studio, located near

Monmouth, Wales at approximately 11:30 p.m. when he lost control of his red

BMW,

smashed into several parked cars and careened into a field . Collins had

a male passenger in the car with him, who is as yet unidentified, who was

not injured. The

keyboardist died as he was being taken to Abergavenny Hospital. The Charlatans

UK were recording their fifth album, and scheduled to perform as the "main

support" for Oasis at Knebworth, Loch Lomond and Cork during August. A new

single, "One To Another," is due out August 26th. At press time, Beggar's

Banquet, the label the group record for, said that no decisions had yet been

made regarding either the Oasis dates or the single. Collins' aggressive

Hammond organ sound was one of the elements that distinguished the Charlatans

UK from other Manchester bands of the late '80s and early '90s (Happy Mondays,

Inspirational Carpets). The group's debut album, Some Friendly topped

the UK

charts; two subsequent albums were less successful. Collins seemed to invite

controversy wherever he went. Last year he was detained at the airport in New

York after he and three other members of the band harassed another passenger.

Collins also served four months of a jail term in 1993 for being an accomplice

in a bungled robbery attempt. He was the driver of the getaway car, although he

claimed to be unaware of the intentions of his mate who robbed the liquor

store. "Rob could have got five years for it [driving the getaway car],"

Charlatans UK singer Tim Burgess told ATN last fall. "And he only ended up

getting eight months. We nearly finished the LP [while he was in jail]." One of

the only bands to survive the "Madchester" and "baggy" tags put on them and

other Manchester bands by the British press, the group's last album, 1995's

The Charlatans UK, hit #1 on the UK charts, and made them stars in

England all over again.

[ATN contributing editor Tim Gaskill contributed

to this report.]