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Robbie McIntosh (born 25 October 1957) is an English guitarist. McIntosh is well known as a session guitarist and member of The Pretenders from 1982 until 1987. In 1988 he began doing session guitar work for Paul McCartney joining his band full-time until early 1994. He continues to do session work and has performed both as a sideman with John Mayer and with his own band, The Robbie McIntosh Band.


McIntosh was born in Sutton, Surrey, and started playing the guitar at the age of ten, picking out things from any records listened to at the time. He had two older sisters, and their record collections became early influences: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Spencer Davis Group, Jimi Hendrix etc. His father's love of jazz was also a factor: Fats Waller, Django Reinhardt, Louis Armstrong – and his mother played the piano.

At age 13, he started taking classical guitar lessons from a teacher called Michael Lewin, who later became a professor at the Royal Academy of Music.[1] He continued through to Grade 8 (aged 18).

"Lightnin' Hopkins was the first blues artist that captured my imagination; I've been besotted with blues music ever since."

McIntosh's first band was called 70% Proof. They played original material and covers of Humble Pie, The Who, Free and Stevie Wonder, amongst others. "The other guys in the band (Paul Eager, Russell Ayles and Graham Mincher) had all left school, so we used to rehearse on Sunday afternoons at the local dump works canteen. We were pretty good really."

McIntosh took A-levels at school, and had plans to study biology at university but failed, so he joined up with older Raynes Park boys Graham and Malcolm Foster in their band The Foster Brothers. He toured and recorded with them throughout 1977; the band gradually folded in early 1978.

After the Foster Bros., McIntosh worked for about six months as a lorry driver for a builder's supply company, delivering sand, cement, bricks and the like on a three-ton lorry; he became an expert tipper. Completely out of the blue, he received a call from Chris Thompson who at the time was the singer in Manfred Mann's Earth Band. He had an outfit called Filthy McNasty who played a lot at The Bridge House, Canning Town, The Golden Lion, Fulham, etc. Thompson asked McIntosh to join as lead guitarist. In November 1978 the band went to Los Angeles to record with Richard Perry for his Planet Record label. The name of the band was changed to "Night."

The band toured in America for most of 1979, supporting The Doobie Brothers.

Night disbanded sometime in 1980, but Thompson and McIntosh stayed together to form "Chris Thompson and the Islands" with Malcolm Foster, Paul "Wix" Wickens (who would also join McIntosh in Paul McCartney's band in 1989) and Mick Clews. Despite many gigs and various bouts of recording, a deal was never secured and McIntosh left at the end of 1981.

Living in Kingston at the time, McIntosh formed a fun band to play local pubs called "Dean Martin's Dog," with Malcolm Foster, Mick Clews, Jez Wire, Rupert Black and Mike Dudley. Not surprisingly it won "band name of the year" in Time Out magazine.

"Even when I'd joined The Pretenders the DMD gigs continued when I could fit them in. We played a bit of everything. Good band."

In 1977/78 McIntosh became friends with James Honeyman-Scott, who contacted McIntosh in 1982 with a view to his joining The Pretenders to fill out the band's live sound. Honeyman-Scott died in June 1982 and was replaced by Billy Bremner. After an audition McIntosh joined The Pretenders in September 1982.

He toured extensively and recorded Learning to Crawl and Get Close with the band before leaving in September 1987.

In 1985, McIntosh was the main guitarist on Roger Daltrey's sixth solo album Under a Raging Moon, the album was a tribute to The Who's former drummer Keith Moon who had died in 1978, The album was Daltrey's best charting success in the US and McIntosh was featured on the music video for "Let Me Down Easy" aside Daltrey with Bryan Adams on the other side also playing guitar.

He appeared on several Jerry Harrison (of Talking Heads) solo albums including the critically acclaimed Casual Gods LP which spawned the US Mainstream Charts hit Rev It Up (song) which reached #7 in late 1987.

In 1988, McIntosh resumed session work and was chosen as the lead guitarist for Paul McCartney's band, touring and playing on all its albums from 1989 through 1993. He can be seen in the concert films Get Back and Paul Is Live.

McIntosh went back to doing sessions until about 1998; he started to realise a dream by putting together a band of his own. "I decided to pick some of my favourite players and mates for a band that I thought would give a particular sound and edge to my songs; so I grabbed Paul Beavis, Pino Palladino, Mark Feltham and Melvin Duffy and "The Robbie McIntosh Band" was born. We did some gigs and recorded Emotional Bends, the debut album."

Prior to this, at his friend Douglas Adams' insistence, McIntosh had recorded all his instrumental tunes. "This was a collection of compositions and arrangements that I just played for fun at home to amuse myself. Douglas insisted that I record them. This collection became the album Unsung, which was to be my second album, even though it was recorded before Emotional Bends."

The Robbie McIntosh Band released their next album, Wide Screen, in June 2001.

McIntosh has done session guitar work for many artists throughout his career including: Aynsley Lister, Kevin Ayers, Boyzone, Cher, Diane Tell, Eric Bibb, George Martin, Gordon Haskell, Heather Small, Chuck Berry, Joe Cocker, Daryl Hall, John Mayer, Kirsty McColl, Luz Casal, Mike + The Mechanics, Nine Below Zero, Paul Carrack, Paul Young, Mark Knopfler, John Illsley, Roger Daltrey, Russell Watson, Mark Hollis, Talk Talk, Tasmin Archer, Tears for Fears, Eros Ramazzotti, Thea Gilmore, Tina Arena, Tori Amos, Vin Garbutt, and Norah Jones.

In 2004 McIntosh joined Norah Jones' touring band staying in the band a year for the "Feels Like Home" world tour playing slide, acoustic and electric guitar, mandolin and backing vocals.

McIntosh toured with John Mayer from 2006–2010, providing both rhythm and lead guitar, dobro, and mandolin. He performed all of Mayer's slide guitar work in that certain period as well. In May 2017 he again joined John Mayer on stage, to perform the song Daughters in London.

McIntosh has played live with Sinead O'Connor, Tom Jones, Bluesclub and Los Pacaminos. He released "Turn Up For The Books", his 5th album, in September 2013. The album has contributions by Paul Beavis, Stephen Darrell Smith, Mark Feltham, Pino Palladino, Steven Wilson, Jess Upton and Peter Hope-Evans.


  • Night (1979)
  • Long Distance (1981)æ
  • Unsung (1999)
  • Hush Hour (2003)
  • Turn up for the Books (2013)
  • Emotional Bends (1999)
  • Wide Screen (2001)
  • Testing The Water (2014)
  • Live In London (2015)
  • Long Shadows (2016)
  • Live At The Brook (2017)-DVD
  • Rules For Jokers (2001)
  • Songs From The Gutter (2002)
  • Avalanche (2003)
  • John Wesley Harding (2011)
  • Regardless (2013)
  • Ghosts and Graffiti (2015)
  • The Counterweight (2017)
  • Rollin' and Tumblin' Vol. 1 (2011)
  • Chance (1980)
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