The Dumpy Little Building in Beautiful Downtown Culver City lost a good man this month. We do not know all the details at this time, but it appears Robert Leslie Dean, age 61, has passed away from a heart-attack.
To cite Robert as just one of our security personnel at the Culver City building would be an injustice. As a Hollywood native, Robert followed his passion for music and photography early in life; He began as a newspaper boy in the early Sixties through the famed Hollywood Desilu Studios television lot, handing over the daily news with stars in his eyes.
His entertainment career didn’t end there – in 1981, he became a full-time musician playing the Sunset Strip and beyond. Rockin’ Robert’s Upsetters performed in venues like the Ice House and the Whiskey a Go Go, playing from late night to early morning. In the late nineties, Robert traded in his guitar for another instrument – the camera.
“I’ve ‘hung out’ all my life,” he recalls in his biography. “I take photos now because, I re-wound my memory and realized I had seen so many important concerts, events, people, billboards, marquees and moments of value over the years, in my hometown of Hollywood, that exist only in my head now. They should’ve been ‘lensed’.”
Before arriving at CBS Radio, Robert Leslie Dean worked as a courier for Channel 9 in Hollywood. Fate was on Robert’s side on that day in 1983, for as he delivered a package to Channel 9’s security booth, he noticed a set of drumsticks laying across the table.
Those drumsticks belonged to Charles Connor, founding father of the Rock ‘n Roll drums, originally with Little Richard’s Upsetters which was the first black Rock ‘n Roll band.
Robert mentioned he played the guitar, piano, and sang in a mean, gravelled baritone. Within a month, they started Rockin’ Robert’s Upsetters.
The band was a great success for many years, and as the years went by the two travelled in and out of multiple bands together, started with West Coast Upsetters to Rockin’ Robert’s Upsetters to the Bryan MacLean band.
Soon, Robert was a full-time musician playing on TV, car shows, clubs and even making it on the air during the early days of KROQ . As a local LA musician with enormous stage presence and talent, he knew how to draw a crowd. It also helped that he was a handsome man, willing to dance onstage and always making sure his friends were on the list.
Rockin’ Robert’s Upsetters – “Mardi Gras In New Orleans”
After that, Robert disappeared for two years. In that time, Charles became Sergeant Supervisor and Lieutenant of the security division. When CBS Radio moved into the Dumpy Little Building in Downtown Culver City, Charles moved with it. He worked the booth in the early morning. When it came time to find a new guard for the PM shift, Charles called up his “Jewish Brotha” and old band mate Robert.
In 2004, Robert joined his old band mate and life-long friend, Charles Connor, at the CBS Radio building in Downtown Culver City. Together, they reigned over the security department, greeting guests and workers every day, booting out the crazies. In the sunshine and majesty of a Southern California afternoon, these two men shared their tales of their rock ‘n roll heyday with us everyday.
[pullquote quote=”Jack FM t-shirts were an essential part of Robert’s daily uniform.” credit=”Stephen Carver, SVP CBS Radio”]Robert talked with a big, wide grin, and liked his long, grey hair tucked outside his long, denim jacket. He was a man well versed in the history of CBS Radio and beyond, and he always had a minute to tell you his funny story while escorting you through the secret side entrance in the back (don’t even try, you’ll never find it.)
Robert came on and worked the night security for CBS Radio for over seven years. In that time, he and Charles greeted everyone from James Brown to Gene Simmons to Cheech and Chong to you and me.
Sometimes, the walk from the parking lot to the front door is daunting; Prize winners visiting us for the first time have no idea where to go; angry co-workers angry to have to come in early; pizza delivery men with no clue where Studio R could be…
At least Robert was there. And he always reminded us that things were all good.
“We will miss Robert as a work colleague and friend after his many years of service to this company,” remembers Stephen Carver, Senior Vice President and Market Manager of CBS Radio Los Angeles.
“Jack FM t-shirts were an essential part of Robert’s daily uniform and he took great pride in showing them to me each and every time. Just a week ago Robert pointed out to me that he had turned his shirt around because he liked the bigger Jack logo on the front.”
Information about memorial services for Robert Dean will soon be available. In the meantime, please check out Robert’s photography at his website.
Robert will be remembered as a great musician, a great security guard, and as a smiling, friendly, intelligent, and compassionate friend.
We’re gonna miss you, Robert. Shine on.