But four decades later the 2-4-6-8 Motorway and Glad To Be Gay star believes music doesn't actually change a thing.
It does though provide a tonic for the troops who bring about real change, says the 67-year-old.
And in these times of Trump and Brexit, with the campaign for tolerance far from over, he is on the road reviving fans and fellow human rights lobbyists with a 15 date trip down memory lane.
LISTEN: Tom Robinson talks about the tour, his life ad times in the big interview with Graham Walker - hear it in full on his Audioboom channel - CLICK HERE.
In an exclusive chat - listen to it in full - he said: "Things don't change permanently as we have seen with Trump and Brexit. It isn't just like a steady march towards progress.
"Things can easily reverse in a flash, in a twinkling of an eye.
"You can get reverse swing so none of the gains that we have made are necessarily permanent. So I think you have always got to be defending those values. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance, as the old cliche goes."
Tom, also an active supporter of Amnesty International, The National Assembly Against Racism and The Samaritans, along with the Peter Tatchell Foundation for Human Rights, said of the power of music: "I've debated it with Billy Bragg. My feeling is that music doesn't actually change anything but what it does do, it provides a tonic for the troops.
"I think it is the individuals that came to the concerts that brought about change, rather than the musicians themselves."
Tom's other huge hit was 1983's War Baby but he won't be singing that on this tour which will be a tribute just to his 1977 debut album and classic singles of that year and 1978.
Ironically, breakthrough tune 2-4-6-8 Motorway - inspired by the gay lib chant 2-4-6-8, gay is twice as good as straight - and his follow up signature hit Glad To Be Gay, which are on the set list, were not on the UK version of that first album, but were on a USA double album release.
He explained: "You've got to blame The Sex Pistols for us not putting our singles on the album
"Their album had just come out and it had their singles, b-sides and two filler tracks. Everybody in the press was shouting 'rip off and lazy'. So we put out an album of 10 completely new tracks and everybody went. 'oh, where are all the songs we know?'
"Of course I regret it but it was to do with the mood of the time."
He said 2-4-6-8 Motorway was inspired by late journeys home after gigs in their transit van and added: "The motorway sun indeed was coming up with the morning light. It did sort of write itself as a lyric."
Now also famed for his BBC Radio 6 Music shows and support for new music artists through BBC Introducing his advice to new bands is: "Enjoy yourself and write lots of songs.
"I owe my entire career to three songs. There is a difference between a good song, for an album or a B side, and an OMFG song, which makes people's jaws drop and hit the floor.
"You've got to have an OMFG song to get you off the ground."
Tom's own sexuality made headlines when he married Sue Brearley, the mother of his two children, after they met at a Gay Switchboard benefit party.
He said: "People generally aren't terribly tolerant about those who move from one letter of LGBT to the other. So when I went from the G to the B and met the love of my life and it turned out to be the 'wrong sex', it caused all kinds of problems mainly with the tabloid press - shock horror man lives with woman.
"Of course we shouldn't be bloody pigeonholed. In an ideal world you wouldn't even have to use a label like LGBT."
He said of hs sexuality: "It was such a curse in my young life. It blighted my life, the fact that there were no role models and that gay men went to prison when I was a teenager. That gave me a whole extra level of misery, compared to what a LGBT child has to cope with today. So to have done my little bit towards making that burden and a little lighter s something to be proud of.
"But as I say, you have to keep fighting. You have to keep vigilant and try to defend the tolerance that you believe in."
Tom said he is particularly looking forward to returning to his Yorkshire roots on the tour.
He said: "My mother was from Wetherby and my dad was from Lincoln. When I was a teenager we lived in Stokesley, in North Yorkshire, on the edge of Teesside. My mother is buried there. So yes, the area means a lot to me."
Dates include Wakefield Unity Works on October 17, The Crescent in York on October 18 and Sheffield's Leadmill on October 20. Full details below and tickets at tomrobinson.com.
OCTOBER TOUR 2017
10 - Cardiff, The Globe
11 - Milton Keynes, The Stables
12 - Cambridge, The Portland
13 - Bewdley Festival
14 - Nantwich, Words & Music
17 - Wakefield, Unity Works
18 - York, The Crescent
19 - Nottingham Rescue Rooms
20 - Sheffield, Leadmill
21 - Manchester Home
24 - London 100 Club
25 - London 100 Club
26 - London 100 Club
28 - Newcastle, Riverside
29 - Glasgow, King Tut’s
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