Bobby Tench (also credited as Bob Tench and Bobby Gass) is a talented journeyman singer and guitarist who has worked with some of the biggest and best-respected names in British rock during a career that has spanned six decades. Born on September 21, 1944, Tench got his start as a bass player, working with a variety of acts on the London club circuit before forming his first band, the Gass. The Gass cut singles for Parlophone and CBS between 1965 and 1967, and in 1969, when impresario Jack Good presented his rock & roll stage adaptation of Othello, Catch My Soul, the Gass were recruited to serve as the backing band and later appeared on the original cast album. The Gass cut an album of their own in 1970, Juju, which was re-released later that same year under the eponymous title Gass, with Tench credited using his birth name, Robert Tench, and featuring a guest appearance by British blues legend Peter Green. The Gass broke up in the summer of 1971.
Around the same time, Jeff Beck was looking for a new vocalist after Rod Stewart left the Jeff Beck Group, and Beck hired Tench for the job. Tench sang with Beck on the albums Rough and Ready and Jeff Beck Group, and when Beck broke up the group to form Beck, Bogert & Appice in 1972, Tench sang on the new band's initial tour after Beck became disenchanted with the work of original vocalist Kim Milford. That same year, Tench (credited as Bobby Gass) appeared on Ginger Baker's album Stratavarious, which also featured Nigerian music icon Fela Kuti. Tench was briefly a member of the Latin-influenced R&B group Gonzalez, but left in 1974 to focus his attentions on Streetwalkers, a new band formed by Roger Chapman and Charlie Whitney of Family. Around the same time, Tench formed his own band, Hummingbird, and divided his time between Hummingbird and Streetwalkers for the next several years, recording and touring with both acts. Despite this busy schedule, he found time to guest on the albums Now Hear This by Hanson (not the sibling pop group, but a band featuring Bob Marley & the Wailers guitarist Junior Hanson), Fathoms Deep by Linda Lewis, and two LPs by blues giant Freddie King, Burglar and Larger Than Life.
By the end of 1977, both Streetwalkers and Hummingbird had run their course, and in 1978, Tench and fellow Streetwalker Mickey Feat joined Van Morrison's band, appearing on his album Wavelength and backing Morrison on his subsequent world tour. In 1979, he left Morrison's group and teamed up with Eric Burdon, performing on Burdon's album Darkness Darkness, and in 1980 he joined Steve Marriott's latter-day Humble Pie, making his debut with the band on the album On to Victory. Humble Pie split again after 1981's Go for the Throat, and Tench formed Heart & Soul, a soul combo that played frequent live gigs but never recorded. Through most of the '80s, Tench focused on session work, appearing on albums by Roger Chapman and Topper Headon, though he also released a pair of solo singles, a 1981 cover of Sam Cooke's "Chain Gang" and a cover of Thin Lizzy's "Still in Love with You," issued in 1986 in tribute to Phil Lynott, who died that year.
In the early '90s, Tench returned to road work with Alan Price and the Electric Blues Company which, along with the former Animals keyboard player, also featured noted beat and blues legend Zoot Money, and the group released a pair of albums, 1994's Covers and 1995's A Gigster's Life for Me. In 1998, Tench backed vocalist Ruby Turner on her album Call Me by My Name, and he formed a combo to play solo dates, fittingly called the Bobby Tench Band. Humble Pie surprised fans by reuniting in 2000, despite the death of Steve Marriott in 1991, and Tench came on board to sing and play guitar with the band; following a successful concert tour, the band went into the studio to record the 2002 album Back on Track. In 2009, Alan Price came out of retirement to stage a tour with Zoot Money, Maggie Bell, and Chris Farlowe called Maximum Rhythm 'n' Blues: A Night at the Flamingo, in tribute to the legendary London blues club, and Tench joined the show as guitarist and vocalist. Tench continues to tour and record as a sideman. ~ Mark Deming