Rocky Sharpe (Robert Podsiadly)
26 November 1952 – 5 December 2019
Rocky Sharpe, born Robert Podsiadly, was the third son of Stanislaw and Stefania Podsiadly, Polish refugees who settled in Brighton after the war. The family was active in the local Polish community with Eddie, Johnny (Jan) and Robert growing up performing in Polish Academia on holidays and feast days. Even without this audience Robert enjoyed singing his way through the day at home. The opportunity to shine came with a performance singing Polish Christmas Carols as a trio.
The trio sang Polish folk songs in further shows and became popular playing for Polish dances with old time dances on the accordion and pop songs on the guitar. Bookings from social clubs and folk clubs required a name for the band, Silver Sword (Srebrna Szabla in Polish). A regular Saturday night spot at a local pub always ended up as a riotous grannies’ knees up.
In 1972 Silver Sword joined forces with the Rather Annoyed Angels and others for a performance at the Arlington on Brighton Seafront as Shey Ney Ney, a spoof of Sha Na Na. The joke was on the band when the audience demanded an encore. The moment Blue Moon was reprised, Rocky Sharpe was born.
Rocky’s ambition to become an actor remained and he took up a place at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art. The now more credibly named Rocky Sharpe and the Razors moved from local gigs to the London pub circuit and beyond following a national pub talent competition in 1974.
In spite of a healthy following and some self-financed recordings commercial success was elusive and the curtain finally came down on the Razors on 18 June 1976, with the only lasting evidence a Chiswick Records EP from the recordings.
Rocky naturally turned to the theatre, performing in rep and in some TV walk-ons. But in a lull Johnny called Chiswick Records in 1978 and asked if they would like to make a record. Chiswick said yes and recruited Mike Vernon as producer (and later group member). Helen Highwater (Helen Blizard) was added to the line-up and now, as the Replays, the chips were really down.
Rama Lama Ding Dong became the perfect showcase hit record for Rocky’s vocal gymnastics and performances and opened the door to a short career defined by four albums, and chart success in the UK, Germany, Spain, Austria and Australia. To this day the music has held a deep and abiding love in the hearts of Replays’ fans, particularly in Spain.
At the end of 1984 the Replays had to call it a day and Rocky returned to his thespian ambitions. By 1988 those ambitions were thwarted by the diagnosis of MS and marked a gradually decline in health affecting his two greatest assets, his speech and mobility. He was cared for at home by his wife Paulina until his condition required round the clock care. He became a popular resident at the Care for Veterans Home as his mind and wit remained lively in spite of his physical deterioration. Remarkably he was still up for joking with visitors in his final days and passed away peacefully with his wife and some family members at his bedside on 5 December 2019.