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Rob Allingham, '66
Rob has lived in South Africa for almost 25 years now. He's shown in the middle here with African music industry people.

The caption for this photo in a South African music magazine is, "Rob Allingham came from California, USA in the early 70's, having fallen in love with South Africa music & steam trains. He is an undisputed authority on African music - from A to Z - Afrikaans to Zulu. His tireless Archive work into African township & Afrikaans music at Gallo for 10 years has helped turn the commercial mainstream on its head & heart. Rob is responsible for issuing many classic almost forgotten / hidden records onto CD & is reputed to have the largest private Afrikaans (78 RPM) shellac record collection in the world."

Rob is the Director of Archives at Gallo Records in Johannesberg where his prodigious knowledge and love of SA music has resulted in many wonderful compilations, articles and liner notes. Rob is a longtime collaborator with Afropop Worldwide.

After graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in history, Rob followed his passion for railroads and worked for several of them. When he heard about a rare type of steam railroad that needed an employee with his skills and experience, he decided to go to South Africa and take the job. He intended to stay only a couple of years. Things worked out so well, though, that he kept staying, and also married and began a family. His wife is a South African woman of Dutch ancestry.

Today Rob says South Africa is his home. He came to California 2 years ago to see his parents and a few friends, including Glen Browne, '64 near Palo Alto. Glen, incidentally, is a scientist and inventor, one of whose areas of specialization is the design of airborne package delivery systems, particularly where the system safely drops relief supplies from an airplane to a disaster area below -- safely, without hitting anyone of damaging any structure, and keeping the item dropped intact.

I saw Rob one day in Dana Point, near where his mother lives. Besides trains, Rob's great passion has always been music, and many friends will remember that by high school, Rob already had a formidable collection of records, specializing in 78 RPM "race records", which were early recordings of African-American artists and musicians including Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters and others. He was a determined hunter for these old 78s, and more than once I accompanied him on scavenger-shopping trips to neighborhood record shops in South Los Angeles. He was a music expert even then.