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The Black Crowes

The Black Crowes

Rock group

Exotic Stage Trappings

Developed Bluesy Barroom Sound

Bounced from ZZ Top Tour

7-11 Incident Resolved in Court

Controversy Followed Amorica Release

Selected discography

Sources

During the early 1990s, R&B rock group the Black Crowes catapulted their first record, Shake Your Money Maker which Rolling Stones David Fricke aptly dubbed a guitar-party cracker that marries white Southern R&B crunch and Anglo cock-strutting attitude in the beloved early-Seventies manner of the Faces and the Rolling Stonesto multiplatinum sales by playing no frills, old-line rock n roll. Throughout 1990 and 1991 they entranced audiences across the United States and Europe opening for Heart, Aerosmith, Robert Plant, and ZZ Top. Following their debut, the Black Crowes released Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, which entered the charts at number one. The group released several successful albums during the mid to late 1990s, including Amorica, Three Snakes and One Charm, By Your Side, and Lions in 2001.

The masterminds of one of the few rock debut albums to go platinum in 1990indeed, it had been a year since a rock band had hit number one on the Billboard album chartthe Atlanta quintet went from relative obscurity to pop celebrity in a matter of months. They topped both Rolling Stones 1991 readers and critics polls as Best New American Band, won an Elvis Award for Artist of the Year and Album of the Year at the 1991 International Rock Awards, and earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best New Artist, also in 1991. According to People magazine, after late night television host David Letterman heard the Crowes perform the single Jealous Again, led by the Robinson brothersChris, a captivating singer and the bands lyricist, and reserved, guitar-playing Richhe summed up their improbably wanton success by asking Isnt that rock and roll the way God wanted it to be?

Sensitive to claims that their sound and style is unduly derived from early 1970s-era British R&B rock bands, the cheeky and effusive Chris retorted to Kim Neely in Rolling Stone, Theres no new music ever, period. Its all an interpretation of music thats come before. Nicknamed the Rotten Twins by bassist Johnny Colt, Chris and Richa basically loving, though occasionally squabbling twosomenonetheless depart from their influences in avoiding the drug binges and groupie orgies that purportedly characterized the heyday of the Stones Keith Richards and Faces-era Rod Stewart.

Exotic Stage Trappings

The boys insist that though they are a Southern group, they are not a rebel band. The Tibetan human-bone jewelry, gris-gris charm pouches, voodoo paraphernalia and candle-burning featured in their stage shows, they assure their public, signify nothing more than an interest in the exotic. Stressing that they dont rely on some black magic image to promote themselves, Chriswho also eschews the scantily-clad women customary in rock videospassionately assured Rolling Stones Neely that he can sell his band on performance alone. You know, there are people out there

For the Record

Members include Jeff Cease (group member, 198892), guitar; Johnny Colt (left group, 1997), bass; Marc Ford (group member, 199297), guitar; Audley Freed (joined group, 1998), guitar; Steve Gorman (born on August 17, 1965, in Muskegon, MI), drums; Eddie Harsh (born in Toronto, Canada; joined group, 1992), keyboards; Sven Pipien (group member, 19982000), bass; Chris Robinson (born on December 20, 1966, in Atlanta, GA; married Kate Hudson (an actress), December 31, 2000. Education: Briefly attended Georgia State University and Wofford College, majoring in English), lead vocals; Rich Robinson (born on May 24, 1969, in Atlanta, GA), guitar; Greg Rzab (group member, 2000), bass.

Band formed in Atlanta, GA, as punk ensemble Mr. Crowes Garden, early 1980s; debuted in Chattanooga, TN, 1984; style evolved into barroom R&B and rock, c. 1988; name changed to the Black Crowes, late 1980s; signed with Def American Records, 1989; released debut album, Shake Your Money Maker, 1990; toured the U.S. and Europe, opening for Heart, Robert Plant, Aerosmith, and ZZ Top; released Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, 1992; released Amorica, controversy surrounds album cover art work, 1994; released Three Snakes & One Charm, 1996; released By Your Side, 1999; released Lions, 2001.

Awards: Named Best New American Band, Rolling Stone readers and critics polls, named Artist of the Year and Shake Your Money Maker named Album of the Year at the International Rock Awards, 1991.

Addresses: Record company V2 Records, 14 East 4th St., New York, NY 10012, website: http://www.v2music.com. Website The Black Crowes Official Website: http://www.theblackcrowes.com.

who really care and who dont call records product. A Pop-tart is a product. I make music. I dont want to be a f**king product, I want to be a piece of your life.

Born three years apart in the late 1960s, in Atlanta, Georgia, Chris and Rich Robinson are the only children of Stan and Nancy (Bradley) Robinson. Former singer Stan briefly landed a pop single, Boom-a-Dip Dip, in the top 40 charts in 1958, but after four lean years of touring, his performing career dwindled to a close. The elder Robinson happily introduced his sons to a sundry collection of blues, R&B, gospel, and rock. Neither parent was pleased when Chris and Rich decided to pursue music. By the early 1980s, however, their mother relented and purchased the boys guitars. A few months later, dispensing punk rockish numbersthe only tunes they could playthe brothers named their first band Mr. Crowes Garden after a childhood fairy tale.

Developed Bluesy Barroom Sound

In 1984, 18-year-old Chris and 15-year-old Rich made their professional stage debut in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Though the check covering their $50 performance bounced, the boys persisted. School was decidedly secondary as the brothers honed their skills, performing at area gigs. Rich attended five different prep and public schools before high school graduation; Chris made an abrupt exit from Georgia State University. Look, Jack Kerouac, you want to be a rock star, Chriss father told him, according to Peoples Steve Dougherty, you can sleep in the backyard. Chris left home to room with drummer Steve Gorman. The two began developing a demo tape of original numbers with Rich in 1987. The makeshift groups bluesy barroom sound took shape over the next two years, featuring Richs experiments with Muddy Waters-style open-G tuning and what Rolling Stones Fricke termed six-string slash and slippery country-funk grease, and was bolstered in 1988 by the addition of second guitarist Jeff Cease and bassist Johnny Colt. After some advantageous exposure and a name change, the Black Crowes signed a contract with Def American Records in January of 1989 and released their first album roughly a year later.

Theres a flip side to the bottled razzle-dazzle of Milli Vanilli: bottled authenticity, remarked John Leland in Newsweek after the Crowes debut recording went top ten and had sold a million copies within a year of its release. Its the neatly packaged return of the real thing. And no one hawks it with as much spunk as the Black Crowes. Hawking the album was of paramount importance to the Crowes, whose 14 months of opening sets, along with heavy radio airplay of the mega-hit single She Talks to Angelswritten by Rich Robinson back when he was 17and enthusiastic MTV rotation of their videos deftly marketed their classic rock n roll. Rolling Stone reported that Shake Your Money Maker sold 108,000 copies in a single day. The group largely considered a contemporary odditya youthful American band that shuns the alternative and metal scenes, according to Rolling Stone had made a record Audio called one terrific rock n roll album. Nothing real progressive or strange. Just some damn fine, down-the-line, bluesy rock.

Bounced from ZZ Top Tour

In March of 1991 the Black Crowes found themselves dismissed from the ZZ Top tour, over the course of which they had received almost as much attention as the headlining Top. Chris Robinsons routine reminder to audiencesthis time in front of a hometown crowd of 16,000that the Crowes play live rock n roll, as opposed to just doing commercials for their product, finally rankled corporate tour sponsors Miller Lite beer. By Rolling Stones account, Robinson had been cautioned against saying anything about commercialization, commercials, sponsorship or endorsements. Unwilling to bow to what he saw as censorship, Robinson recalled, I said, Dont tell me what to say. Kick us off. And they did.

On May 29, 1991, Chris Robinsons formidable verbal facility again brought the Crowes controversy. After a Denver, Colorado, concert appearanceaccording to an early June report on MTV NewsRobinson was arrested and charged with assault and disturbing the peace, the result of an altercation with a Twinkie-buying 711 convenience store customer. The brouhaha, as represented by the Rocky Mountain News s coverage of the customers story, was sparked when she remarked to a star-struck friend that she didnt know who the Black Crowes were and did not recognize Robinson, thus apparently raising Robinsons ire. The scene developed as Robinson, perhaps already irritated that he and his entourage could notby Colorado lawpurchase beer as it was after midnight, allegedly insulted the woman and spit on her.

7-11 Incident Resolved in Court

For his part, Robinson told MTV News that in fact, he had spit on the floor ai the customernot on herafter the customer had verbally abused him. Before his court date, the Crowes downright skinny frontman collapsed while traveling in the U.K. Exhaustion and malnutrition were deemed the culprits. Finally, MTV News revealed in early August that Robinson had pleaded no contest to the charge of disturbing the peace. The charge would be dropped from Robinsons record if he were able to clear six months probation. The singer was fined $53 in court costs.

Fall of that year saw the Crowes perform for 500,000 Soviet heavy metal fans at the Moscow stop of the mammoth Monsters of Rock tour. Though maybe a bit light for many of the attendant headbangers and not yet mature enough to shine in such a setting, Rolling Stone correspondent Artemy Troitsky nonetheless enjoyed their set. Early in 1992, Black Crowes guitarist Jeff Cease was replaced by Marc Ford, formerly of the group Burning Tree. Though the bands lineup had seemed solid to many of their fans, this shakeup was actually one of a long line of early personnel changes. Keyboardist Eddie Harsh was added to the group in 1992. In 1997, Ford left the group, along with Colt. Sven Pipien and Audley Freed joined in 1998; Pipien was replaced by Greg Rzab on bass in 2000.

Controversy Followed Amorica Release

The group released The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion in 1992 to positive reviews. According to the groups biography at MTV.com, The musical progression of the band, and of the brothers as songwriters, was obvious [on the album], with more complex arrangements than the debut The albums lead single, Remedy, peaked at number 48 on the charts, and the album has since earned multiplatinum sales. The release of Southern was followed by the High As the Moon tour, which featured a special anti-scalping voucher system that helped ensure that concertgoers first in line would receive the best tickets instead of those buying from scalpers or ticket brokers. Amorica was released in 1994 after a difficult creative process; the group recorded 17 songs, then decided to toss them and start over. Controversy also surrounded the albums artwork, which featured a female crotch covered by a bikini bottom with protruding pubic hair. The hair was airbrushed out for artwork featured on albums sold in store chains such as Kmart, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Target.

In 1996, the group released Three Snakes and One Charm to lukewarm reviews. [T]he production is distressingly monotonous and the songs lack strong hooks, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of All Music Guide commented. By Your Side, produced by Kevin Shirley (who worked with Aerosmith on that groups Nine Lives album), followed in 1999. The group collaborated with Jimmy Page in 2000 for a series of concerts in the United States. An album capturing two live shows at the Los Angeles Ampitheater, called Live at the Greek, earned gold sales status in November of 2000. On May 8, 2001, the group released Lions on the independent label, V2 Records.

Rap and computer-driven dance music have pushed orthodox rock into the margins, summed Newsweeks Leland, explaining the appeal of the Black Crowes loving rehashes of early 1970s British rock. The success of the Black Crowes is a response to this. These guys are orthodox with a vengeance: they wear the red velvet pants and the scarves, and purse their lips just right, even when there isnt a mirror in sight. One review, in Rolling Stone, began Imitations of imitations , but went on to qualify this initial pronouncement: The Black Crowes arent merely trying to reinvent the Faces gin-soaked rock; instead, they manage to reinvest it with innocent fervor and a swaggering grace. This is how the Stones might sound today if Keith [Richards] had spent his salad days banging steroids instead of smack. To retain the spirit of rock forged in the epoch of their elders, the Black Crowes conform to a personal tenet Chris Robinson related to Billboard contributor Chris Morris. I want to stir the soul, he confessed, or at least mine.

Selected discography

Shake Your Money Maker, Def American, 1990.

The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, Def American, 1993.

Amorica, Def American, 1994.

Three Snakes and One Charm, Def American, 1996.

By Your Side, Def American, 1999.

Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes: Live at the Greek, TVT, 2000.

A Tribute to a Work in Progress Greatest Hits 19901999, Def American, 2000.

Lions, BMG/V2, 2001.

Sources

Periodicals

Amusement Business, January 18, 1993.

Audio, August 1990.

Billboard, January 19, 1991; November 12, 1994; January 27, 2001.

Guitar Player, October 1998.

Newsweek, February 11, 1991.

People, March 11, 1991.

Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO), May 31, 1991.

Rolling Stone, May 31, 1990; June 14, 1990; December 13, 1990; January 24, 1991; May 30, 1991; November 14, 1991.

Spin, May 1991.

Variety, January 7, 1991.

Online

The Black Crowes, All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (January 3, 2002).

The Black Crowes Biography, MTV.com, http://www.mtv.com/bands/az/blaccrowes/bio.jhtml (January 3, 2002).

Information for this profile was obtained from MTV News reports broadcast June 4-5, 7-10, 12-13, and August 1-2, 1991.

Marjorie Burgess

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The Black Crowes

The Black Crowes

Rock group

During the early 1990s, R&B rock group the Black Crowes catapulted their first record, Shake Your Money Maker, to multiplatinum sales by playing no frills, old-line rock ‘n’ roll. Throughout 1990 and 1991 they entranced audiences across the United States and Europe, opening for Heart, Aerosmith, Robert Plant, and ZZ Top. Following their debut, the Black Crowes released Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, which entered the charts at number one. The group released several successful albums during the mid to late 1990s, including Amorica, Three Snakes and One Charm, and By Your Side, and Lions in 2001.

The masterminds of one of the few rock debut albums to go platinum in 1990, the Atlanta quintet went from relative obscurity to pop celebrities in a matter of months. They topped Rolling Stone's 1991 readers and critics polls as Best New American Band, won an Elvis Award for Artist of the Year and Album of the Year at the 1991 International Rock Awards, and earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best New Artist, also in 1991. According to People, after late night television host David Letterman heard the Crowes perform the single "Jealous Again," he summed up their improbably wanton success by asking, "Isn't that rock and roll the way God wanted it to be?."

Sensitive to claims that their sound and style is unduly derived from early 1970s-era British R&B rock bands, Chris Robinson told Kim Neely in Rolling Stone, "There's no new music ever, period. It's all an interpretation of music that's come before."

Born three years apart in the late 1960s in Atlanta, Georgia, Chris and Rich Robinson were the only children of Stan and Nancy (Bradley) Robinson. Former singer Stan had briefly landed a pop single in the top 40 charts in 1958, but after four lean years of touring, his performing career dwindled to a close. The elder Robinson introduced his sons to a sundry collection of blues, R&B, gospel, and rock, though neither parent was pleased when Chris and Rich decided to pursue music. By the early 1980s, however, their mother relented and purchased the boys guitars. A few months later, the brothers named their first band Mr. Crowe's Garden, after a childhood fairy tale.

Developed Bluesy Barroom Sound

In 1984, 18-year-old Chris and 15-year-old Rich made their professional stage debut in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Though the check covering their $50 performance bounced, the boys persisted. School was decidedly secondary as the brothers honed their skills, performing at area gigs. Rich attended five different prep and public schools before high school graduation; Chris made an abrupt exit from Georgia State University. He then left home to room with drummer Steve Gorman, and the two, along with Rich, began developing a demo tape of original numbers in 1987. The makeshift group's bluesy barroom sound took shape over the next two years, featuring Rich's experiments with Muddy Waters-style open-G tuning and what Rolling Stone termed "six-string slash and slippery country-funk grease." They were bolstered in 1988 by the addition of second guitarist Jeff Cease and bassist Johnny Colt. After some advantageous exposure and a name change, the Black Crowes signed a contract with Def American Records in January of 1989, and released their first album roughly a year later.

For the Record …

Members include Jeff Cease (group member, 1988-92), guitar; Johnny Colt (left group, 1997), bass; Marc Ford (group member, 1992-97), guitar; Audley Freed (joined group, 1998), guitar; Steve Gorman (born on August 17, 1965, in Muskegon, MI), drums; Eddie Harsh (born in Toronto, Canada; joined group, 1992), keyboards; Sven Pipien (group member, 1998-2000), bass; Chris Robinson (born on December 20, 1966, in Atlanta, GA; married Lala Sloatman 1996, divorced 1998; married Kate Hudson (actress), 2000; divorced, 2007; one child; Education: Briefly attended Georgia State University and Wofford College, majoring in English), lead vocals; Rich Robinson (born on May 24, 1969, in Atlanta, GA), guitar; Greg Rzab (group member, 2000), bass.

Band formed in Atlanta, GA, as punk ensemble Mr. Crowe's Garden, early 1980s; debuted in Chattanooga, TN, 1984; style evolved into barroom R&B and rock, c. 1988; name changed to the Black Crowes, late 1980s; signed with Def American Records, 1989; released debut album, Shake Your Money Maker, 1990; toured the U.S. and Europe, opening for Heart, Robert Plant, Aerosmith, and ZZ Top; released Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, 1992; released Amorica, 1994; released Three Snakes & One Charm, 1996; released By Your Side, 1999; released Lions, 2001; band went on hiatus, 2002; Robinson brothers created several solo projects both together and separately before reforming the band, creating their own label Silver Arrow, and releasing their first album of original material in several years, Warpaint, 2008.

Awards: Named Best New American Band, Rolling Stone readers and critics polls; named Artist of the Year for Shake Your Money Maker; named Album of the Year at International Rock Awards, 1991.

Addresses: Record company—Silver Arrow Records / Megaforce Records, P.O. Box 1955, New York, NY 10113. Web site—The Black Crowes Official Web site: http://www.theblackcrowes.com.

"There's a flip side to the bottled razzle-dazzle of Milli Vanilli: bottled authenticity," remarked John Leland in Newsweek, after the Crowes' debut recording, Shake Your Money Maker, made the top ten and sold a million copies within a year of its release. "It's the neatly packaged return of the real thing. And no one hawks it with as much spunk as the Black Crowes." Promotion of the album included heavy radio airplay of the mega-hit single "She Talks to Angels" and enthusiastic MTV rotation of their videos. Rolling Stone reported that Shake Your Money Maker sold 108,000 copies in a single day. The Black Crowes were largely considered a contemporary oddity,"a youthful American band that shuns the alternative and metal scenes," according to Rolling Stone. Audio called their record "one terrific rock ‘n’ roll album. Nothing real progressive or strange. Just some damn fine, down-the-line, bluesy rock."

Bounced from ZZ Top Tour

In March of 1991 the Black Crowes found themselves dismissed from the ZZ Top tour, over the course of which they had received almost as much attention as the headlining Top. Chris Robinson had routinely reminded audiences that the Crowes played live rock ‘n’ roll, as opposed to "commercials" for a "product," and according to Rolling Stone, he had been cautioned against doing this by sponsor Miller Lite. Unwilling to bow to what he saw as censorship, Robinson recalled, "I said, ‘Don't tell me what to say. Kick us off.’ And they did."

In the fall of 1991 the Crowes performed for 500,000 Soviet heavy metal fans at the Moscow stop of the mammoth Monsters of Rock tour. Though the group may have been a bit light for many of the attendant "headbangers" and not yet "mature" enough to shine in such a setting, Rolling Stone correspondent Artemy Troitsky nonetheless enjoyed their set. Early in 1992, Black Crowes guitarist Jeff Cease was replaced by Marc Ford, formerly of the group Burning Tree. Though the band's lineup had seemed solid to many of their fans, this shakeup was actually one of a long line of early personnel changes. Keyboardist Eddie Harsh was added to the group in 1992. In 1997 Ford left the group, along with Colt. Sven Pipien and Audley Freed joined in 1998; Pipien was replaced by Greg Rzab on bass in 2000.

Controversy Followed Amorica Release

The group released The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion in 1992 to positive reviews. According to the group's biography at MTV.com, "The musical progression of the band, and of the brothers as songwriters, was obvious [on the album], with more complex arrangements than the debut." The album's lead single, "Remedy," peaked at number 48 on the charts, and the album earned multiplatinum sales. The release of Southern was followed by the High As the Moon tour, and then Amorica was released in 1994, after a difficult creative process in which the group recorded 17 songs, then decided to toss them and start over. Controversy also surrounded the album's artwork, which featured a female crotch covered by a bikini bottom with protruding pubic hair. The hair was airbrushed out for artwork featured on albums sold in store chains such as Kmart, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Target.

In 1996 the group released Three Snakes and One Charm to lukewarm reviews. "The production is distressingly monotonous and the songs lack strong hooks," Stephen Thomas Erlewine of All Music Guide commented. By Your Side, produced by Kevin Shirley (who worked with Aerosmith on that group's Nine Lives album), followed in 1999. The group collaborated with Jimmy Page in 2000 for a series of concerts in the United States. An album capturing two live shows at the Los Angeles Ampitheater, called Live at the Greek, earned gold sales status in November of 2000. On May 8, 2001, the group released Lions on the independent label V2 Records.

"Rap and computer-driven dance music have pushed orthodox rock into the margins," declared Newsweek's Leland, explaining the appeal of the Black Crowes' "loving rehashes" of early 1970s British rock. "The success of the Black Crowes is a response to this. These guys are orthodox with a vengeance: they wear the red velvet pants and the scarves, and purse their lips just right, even when there isn't a mirror in sight." One review in Rolling Stone declared that "this is how the Stones might sound today if Keith [Richards] had spent his salad days banging steroids instead of smack." To retain the spirit of rock forged in the epoch of their elders, the Black Crowes conformed to a personal tenet Chris Robinson related to Billboard contributor Chris Morris. "I want to stir the soul," he confessed, "or at least mine."

Band Split, Then Reunited

Despite solid reviews and sales, the Black Crowes went on an indefinite hiatus starting in 2002, but the group's principal leaders stayed active. Younger brother Rich Robinson, who had composed music for the soundtrack of the 2001 film Highway, took singing lessons, gigged with a four-piece band named Hookah Brown, and produced and recorded a poorly received solo album for his own Keyhole label, titled Paper. That same year he released the poorly distributed, seldom heard Live at the Knitting Factory, NYC, 1/16/04 on the Dynasonic label.

Clearly the more visible of the two brothers, songwriter/ vocalist Chris Robinson recorded a pair of new albums. The first, 2002's New Earth Mud, was a mix of hippie-era hard rock and sentiment that prompted Rolling Stone to comment: "On his first solo album, the Black Crowes frontman keeps things light, wrapping his cigarettes-and-whiskey voice around pretty ballads such as ‘Silver Car’ and ‘Fables.’ But with too many half-baked songs, he ultimately comes off like a generic amalgam of a bunch of Seventies songwriters."

The elder Robinson's follow up, This Magnificent, was an improvement, and featured more cohesive songwriting and studio production. Thom Jurek of the All Music Guide commented, "The music is progressive, and wonderfully intricate; it stands completely outside the mark of anything Robinson has done before." Thanks to diehard Black Crowes fans, both of Robinson's solo LPs made the charts, but neither the money nor public reaction was the same. Subse- quently, the Robinson brothers patched up their differences and reunited for the Brothers of a Feather tour in 2005, which resulted in a live album for Eagle the following year.

Volatile Reunion

By 2007 the Crowes's manager Pete Angelus had engineered a full-fledged Black Crowes reunion, but the relationship between the two brothers remained combustible. "Outside of music, we probably would never speak to each other," Rich Robinson told David Fricke of Rolling Stone. This volatility extended to the band's lineup, which by this time included bassist Sven Pipien, drummer Steve Gorman, and two hired guns for touring purposes, keyboardist Andy MacDougall and guitarist Luther Dickinson.

The Black Crowes' first album of original material in seven years, Warpaint, was issued through their own Silver Arrow label. Filled with tough-edged Southern rock and blues flavored with smatterings of psychedlia and fuzz-tone r&b, the album sported a more professional, commercial sound than their earlier efforts. Quickly the disc jumped to number five on the Billboard album charts. Had the brothers not fought away the band's salad years, their catalog might be richer. Yet, in his remarks to Rolling Stone, Chris Robinson was philosophical. "I have no regrets. I've done dumb stuff. I've said things I shouldn't have said. Whatever, man. Choices are made, so you make the next set of choices—hopefully better ones."

Selected discography

Shake Your Money Maker, Def American, 1990.

The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, Def American, 1993.

Amorica, Def American, 1994.

Three Snakes and One Charm, Def American, 1996.

By Your Side, Def American, 1999.

Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes: Live at the Greek, TVT, 2000.

A Tribute to a Work in Progress… Greatest Hits 1990-1999, Def American, 2000.

Lions, BMG/V2, 2001.

Live, BMG/V2, 2002.

(Chris Robinson) New Earth Mud, Redline, 2002.

(Chris Robinson) This Magnificent Distance, Vector, 2004.

(Rich Robinson) Paper, Keyhole, 2004.

(Rich Robinson) Live at the Knitting Factory, NYC, 1/16/2004, Dynasonic, 2004.

The Lost Crowes, American, 2006.

Soul Singin': the Best of the Black Crowes [Live], Instant Live, 2006.

Freak ‘N’ Roll … Into the Fog [Live], Eagle, 2006.

(Chris and Rich Robinson) Brothers of a Feather: Live at the Roxy, Eagle, 2007.

Warpaint, Silver Arrow, 2008.

Sources

Periodicals

Amusement Business, January 18, 1993.

Audio, August 1990.

Billboard, January 19, 1991; November 12, 1994; January 27, 2001.

Guitar Player, October 1998.

Newsweek, February 11, 1991.

People, March 11, 1991.

Rocky Mountain News, (Denver, CO), May 31, 1991.

Rolling Stone, May 31, 1990; June 14, 1990; December 13, 1990; January 24, 1991; May 30, 1991; November 14, 1991.

Spin, May 1991.

Variety, January 7, 1991.

Online

"The Black Crowes," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (June 16, 2008).

"The Black Crowes Biography," MTV.com, http://www.mtv.com/bands/az/black_crowes/bio.jhtml (January 3, 2002).

"Black Crowes tour with first album in seven years," Reuters,http://www.reuters.com/articlePrint?articleId=USN2928422520080229 (February 29, 2008).

"Chris Robinson," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (June 19, 2008).

"Chris Robinson," Internet Movie Databasehttp://www.imdb.com (June 16, 2008).

"Review, New Earth Mud," Rolling Stone.Com,http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/chrisrobinson/albums/album/114158.review/5945894 (November 28, 2002).

"Rich Robinson," All Music Guidehttp://www.allmusic.com (June 19, 2008).

"War of the Crowes," Rolling Stone.com,http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/19612965/war_of_the_crowes/print (June 16, 2008).

Additional information for this profile was obtained from MTV News reports broadcast June 4-5, 7-10, 12-13, and August 1-2, 1991.

—Marjorie Burgess and Ken Burke

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"The Black Crowes." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 14 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"The Black Crowes." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 14, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/black-crowes-1

"The Black Crowes." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved December 14, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/black-crowes-1

The Black Crowes

The Black Crowes

Rock band

For the Record

Exotic Stage Trappings

Developed Bluesy Barroom Sound

Bounced From ZZ Top Tour

7-Eleven Incident Resolved in Court

Selected discography

Sources

The 1990s have been good to the Black Crowes. As the decade dawned the rhythm-and blues rock group catapulted their first record, Shake Your Money Maker which Rolling Stones David Fricke aptly dubbed a guitar-party cracker that marries white Southern R&B crunch and Anglo cock-strutting attitude in the beloved early-Seventies manner of the Faces and the Rolling Stonesto double platinum sales by playing no frills, old-line rock and roll. Throughout 1990 and 1991 they entranced audiences across the U.S. and Europe opening for Heart, Aerosmith, Robert Plant, and ZZ Top.

The masterminds of one of the few rock debut albums to go platinum in 1990indeed, it had been a year since a rock band had hit Number One on the Billboard album chartthe Atlanta quintet went from relative obscurity to pop celebrity in a matter of months. They topped both Rolling Stones 1991 readers and critics polls as best new American band, won an Elvis Award for artist of the year and album of the year at the 1991 International Rock Awards, and earned a Grammy

For the Record

Members include Johnny Colt (bass), Marc Ford (guitar; replaced Jeff Cease, 1992), Steve Gorman (drums), Chris Robinson (lead vocals), and Rich Robinson (guitar). Chris and Rich Robinson were born c. 1966 and 1969, respectively, in Atlanta, GA, the sons of Stan (a manufacturers representative and former singer) and Nancy (Bradley) Robinson. Chris briefly attended Georgia State University and Wofford College, majoring in English.

Band formed in Atlanta, GA, early 1980s, as punk ensemble Mr. Crowes Garden; debuted in Chattanooga, TN, 1984; style evolved into barroom rhythm and blues and rock as Robinson brothers recruited Gorman, mid-1980s, Cease, and Colt, c. 1988; name changed to the Black Crowes, late 1980s; signed with Def American Records, 1989; released debut album, Shake Your Money Maker, 1990; toured the U.S. and Europe, opening variously for Heart, Robert Plant, Aerosmith, and ZZ Top.

Awards: Grammy nomination for best new artist, voted best new American band in Rolling Stone readers and critics polls, named artist of the year and Shake Your Money Maker named album of the year at the International Rock Awards, and double platinum record for Shake Your Money Maker, all 1991.

Addresses: Record company Def American Records, 3500 West Olive, Ste. 1550, Burbank, CA 91505. Other Crowe Mafia, 9157 Sunset Blvd., Ste. 200, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Award nomination for best new artist, also in 1991. According to People magazine, after late night television host David Letterman heard the Crowes perform the single Jealous Again, led by the Robinson brothersChris, a captivating singer and the bands lyricist, and reserved, guitar-playing Richhe summed up their improbably wanton success by asking Isnt that rock and roll the way God wanted it to be?

Sensitive to claims that their sound and style is unduly derived from early 1970s-era British rhythm-and-blues rock bands, the cheeky and effusive Chris retorted to Kim Neely in Rolling Stone, Theres no new music ever, period. Its all an interpretation of music thats come before. Nicknamed the Rotten Twins by bassist Johnny Colt, Chris and Richa basically loving, though occasionally squabbling twosomenonetheless depart from their influences in avoiding the drug binges and groupie orgies that purportedly characterized the heyday of the Stones Keith Richards and Faces-era Rod Stewart.

Exotic Stage Trappings

The boys insist that though they are a Southern group, they are not a rebel band. The Tibetan human-bone jewelry, gris-gris charm pouches, voodoo paraphernalia and candle-burning featured in their stage shows, they assure their public, signify nothing more than an interest in the exotic. Stressing that they dont rely on some black magic image to promote themselves, Chriswho also eschews the scantily-clad women customary in rock videospassionately assured Rolling Stones Neely that he can sell his band on performance alone. You know, there are people out there who really care and who dont call records product. A Poptart is a product. I make music. I dont want to be a fking product, I want to be a piece of your life.

Born three years apart in the late 1960s, in Atlanta, Georgia, Chris and Rich Robinson are the only children of Stan and Nancy Robinson. Former singer Stan briefly landed a pop single, Boom-a-Dip Dip, in the Top 40 charts in 1958, but after four lean years of touring his performing career dwindled to a close. The elder Robinson happily introduced his sons to a sundry collection of blues, rhythm and blues, gospel, and rock. Neither parent was pleased when Chris and Rich decided to pursue music. By the early eighties, however, their mother relented and purchased the boys guitars. A few months later, dispensing punk rockish numbersthe only tunes they could playthe brothers named their first band Mr. Crowes Garden after a childhood fairy tale.

Developed Bluesy Barroom Sound

In 1984 18-year-old Chris and 15-year-old Rich made their professional stage debut in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Though the check covering their $50 performance bounced, the boys persisted. School was decidedly secondary as the brothers honed their skills, performing at area gigs. Rich attended five different prep and public schools before high school graduation; Chris made an abrupt exit from Georgia State University. Look, Jack Kerouac, you want to be a rock star, Chriss father told him, according to Peoples Steve Dougherty, you can sleep in the backyard. Chris left home to room with drummer Steve Gorman. The two began developing a demo tape of original numbers with Rich in 1987. The makeshift groups bluesy barroom sound took shape over the next two years, featuring Richs experiments with Muddy Waters-style open-G tuning and what Rolling Stones Fricke termed six string slash and slippery country-funk grease, and was bolstered in 1988 by the addition of second guitarist Jeff Cease and bassist Johnny Colt. After some advantageous exposure and a name change, the Black Crowes signed a contract with Def American Records in January of 1989 and released their first album roughly a year later.

Theres a flip side to the bottled razzle-dazzle of Milli Vanilli: bottled authenticity, remarked John Leland in Newsweek after the Crowes debut recording went Top Ten and had sold a million copieswithin a year of its release. Its the neatly packaged return of the real thing. And no one hawks it with as much spunk as the Black Crowes. Hawking the album was of paramount importance to the Crowes, whose 14 months of opening sets, along with heavy radio airplay of the mega-hit single She Talks to Angelswritten by Rich Robinson back when he was 17and enthusiastic MTV rotation of their videos deftly marketed their classic rock and roll. Rolling Stone reported that Shake Your Money Maker sold 108,000 copies in a single day. The group largely considered a contemporary odditya youthful American band that shuns the alternative and metal scenes, according to Rolling Stone had made a record Audio called one terrific rock n roll album. Nothing real progressive or strange. Just some damn fine, down-the-line, bluesy rock.

Bounced From ZZ Top Tour

In March of 1991 the Black Crowes found themselves dismissed from the ZZ Top tour, over the course of which they had received almost as much attention as the headlining Top. Chris Robinsons routine reminder to audiencesthis time in front of a hometown crowd of 16,000that the Crowes play live rock and roll, as opposed to just doing commercials for their product, finally rankled corporate tour sponsors Miller Lite beer. By Rolling Stones account, Robinson had been cautioned against saying anything about commercialization, commercials, sponsorship or endorsements. Unwilling to bow to what he saw as censorship, Robinson recalled, I said, Dont tell me what to say. Kick us off. And they did.

On May 29, 1991, Chris Robinsons formidable verbal facility again brought the Crowes controversy. After a Denver, Colorado, concert appearanceaccording to an early June report on MTV NewsRobinson was arrested and charged with assault and disturbing the peace, the result of an altercation with a Twinkie buying 7-Eleven convenience store customer. The brouhaha, as represented by the Rocky Mountain Newss coverage of the customers story, was sparked when she remarked to a star-struck friend that she didnt know who the Black Crowes were and did not recognize Robinson, thus apparently raising Robinsons ire. The scene developed as Robinson, perhaps already irritated that he and his entourage could notby Colorado lawpurchase beer as it was after midnight, allegedly insulted the woman and spit on her.

7-Eleven Incident Resolved in Court

For his part, Robinson told MTV News that in fact, he had spit on the floor at the customernot on herafter the customer had verbally abused him. Before his court date, the Crowes downright skinny frontman collapsed while traveling in the U.K. Exhaustion and malnutrition were deemed the culprits. Finally, MTV News revealed in early August that Robinson had pleaded no contest to the charge of disturbing the peace. The charge would be dropped from Robinsons record if he were able to clear six months probation. The singer was fined $53 in court costs.

Fall of that year saw the Crowes perform for 500,000 Soviet heavy metal fans at the Moscow stop of the mammoth Monsters of Rock tour. Though maybe a bit light for many of the attendant headbangers and not yet mature enough to shine in such a setting, Rolling Stone correspondent Artemy Troitsky nonetheless enjoyed their set. Early in 1992, Black Crowes guitarist Jeff Cease was replaced by Marc Ford, formerly of the group Burning Tree. Though the bands lineup had seemed solid to many of their fans, this shakeup was actually one of a long line of early personnel changes.

Rap and computer-driven dance music have pushed orthodox rock into the margins, summed Newsweeks Leland, explaining the appeal of the Black Crowes loving rehashes of early 1970s British rock. The success of the Black Crowes is a response to this. These guys are orthodox with a vengeance: they wear the red velvet pants and the scarves, and purse their lips just right, even when there isnt a mirror in sight. One review, in Rolling Stone, began Imitations of imitations , but went on to qualify this initial pronouncement: The Black Crowes arent merely trying to reinvent the Faces gin-soaked rock; instead, they manage to reinvest it with innocent fervor and a swaggering grace. This is how the Stones might sound today if Keith [Richards] had spent his salad days banging steroids instead of smack. To retain the spirit of rock forged in the epoch of their elders, the Black Crowes conform to a personal tenet Chris Robinson related to Billboard contributor Chris Morris. I want to stir the soul, he confessed, or at least mine.

Selected discography

Shake Your Money Maker (includes Jealous Again and She Talks to Angels), Def American, 1990.

The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, Def American, 1992.

Sources

Audio, August 1990.

Billboard, January 19, 1991.

Newsweek, February 11, 1991.

People, March 11, 1991.

Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO), May 31, 1991.

Rolling Stone, May 31, 1990; June 14, 1990; December 13, 1990; January 24, 1991; May 30, 1991; November 14, 1991.

Spin, May 1991.

Variety, January 7, 1991.

Information for this profile was obtained from MTV News reports broadcast June 4-5, 7-10, 12-13, and August 1-2, 1991.

Marjorie Burgess

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Black Crowes, The

THE BLACK CROWES


Formed: 1984, Atlanta, Georgia; Disbanded 2002

Members: Audley Freed, guitar; Eddie Harsch, piano, keyboards (born Toronto, Ontario, 27 May 1957); Andy Hess, bass; Chris Robinson, vocals (born Atlanta, Georgia, 20 December 1966); Rich Robinson, guitar (born Atlanta, Georgia, 24 May 1969). Former members: Jeff Cease, guitar (born Nashville, Tennessee, 24 June 1967); Johnny Colt, bass (born Cherry Point, North Carolina, 1 May 1966); Marc Ford, guitar (born Los Angeles, California, 13 April 1966); Steve Gorman, drums (born Muskegon, Michigan, 17 August 1965).

Genre: Rock

Best-selling album since 1990: Shake Your Money Maker (1990)


The history of brotherly rock and roll singer/guitarist combos, which includes the Davies brothers from the Kinks, Don and Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers, Oasis's Gallagher brothers, and Rich and Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes, is riddled with acrimony and conflict. Though the battling Robinson brothersnicknamed the "Rotten Twins" by band mateswere able to set aside their differences to release a string of successful Southern-fried blues rock albums, the familial tension proved to be the undoing of the group by the early 2000s.

The Black Crowes began life as Mr. Crowe's Garden, formed by the Robinson brothers in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1984. The only children of Nancy and Stan Robinsonthe latter an ex-musician who hit number eighty-three on the charts in 1959 with the song "Boom-a-Dip-Dip" before retiring from the music business to run a clothing businessthe Robinsons seemed destined to follow the family muse.

Heavily influenced by the hard-charging 1960s and 1970s sounds of bands such as the Rolling Stones, Faces, and early Aerosmith, the Black Crowes arrived on the music scene in 1990 with a look and sound that was at odds with the tastes of the day.

Though their retro blues rock sound, long hair, flouncy, velvet frocks, bell bottom jeans, and shaggy appearance failed to fit in with the glam look of the early 1990s hard rock scene or the slouchy, ripped jeans aesthetic of the rising grunge movement, the Black Crowes struck gold with the classic rock of their 1990 debut, Shake Your Money Maker.


Making the Blues New Again

Combining Rich Robinson's raucous slide guitar with singer Chris Robinson's cigarette-stained, Southern blues man vocals, the group scored hits with the ragged boogie-woogie blues song "Jealous Again" and the acoustic ballad "She Talks to Angels." The first album also spawned what would be the Crowes' signature hit, a cover of Otis Redding's southern blues song "Hard to Handle," given a hard rock edge by Rich Robinson's thick guitar lines and Allman Brothersstyle stinging guitar solos.

With an unabashed fondness for indulging in illicit substances, the Crowes sowed the seeds of chaos while touring behind the album in 1991. Singer Chris Robinson caused the group to be fired from their stint opening up for ZZ Top on a Miller beersponsored tour after making disparaging comments about commercial sponsorship. The gaunt singer was arrested for assault and disturbing the peace midyear after an argument with a female fan in Denver following the group's show and was later hospitalized for malnutrition and exhaustion during a British tour.

With guitarist Marc Ford recruited to replace Jeff Cease, the Black Crowes returned in 1992 with Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, which advanced their signature mix of 1970s boogie rock and aspects of gospel, rhythm and blues, and soul. Named after an antebellum gospel hymnal, the album entered the Billboard charts at number one and signaled a career-long turn towards more introspective, conflicted material.

Though still relying on the same classic rock touch-stones, the album mixes the band's dark blues rock with more gospel touches, nowhere more than on the opening track, "Sting Me." As a loose funk/soul beat burns in the background, Robinson sings, "If you feel like a riot, then don't you deny it / Put your good foot forward / No need for heroics, I just want you to show it / Now's the time to shine," with a gospel duo backing his vocals. The album spawned the hit single "Remedy," a five-minute, midtempo blues that melds the raunchy rock of midperiod Rolling Stones with gritty Southern soul.

With album tracks that frequently clocked in at five minutes or more and a live show that highlighted extended instrumental passages, the Black Crowes stood at the vanguard of a new group of American rock acts dubbed "jam bands." The loose aggregation of groups, many acolytes of the improvisatory rock masters the Grateful Dead, allowed fans to tape record their concertswhich were often traded through an underground networkand placed a premium on concerts that expanded the parameters of their recorded music.


A Darker Turn

The group's 1994 album, Amorica, generated controversy for its cover, which depicted a woman in a bikini with her pubic hair exposedan homage to a cover of the pornographic magazine Hustler. The art was quickly air-brushed and changed after some retail chains refused to stock it.

Though the hard-edged album did not spawn any hit singles and did not sell as well as their previous efforts, it moves further into a darker, more introspective direction and is both homage to rock heroes and unmistakably original. Songs such as "High Head Blues" add Latin percussion into the mix, while "Wiser Time" is spiced with country-flavored pedal steel guitar. Chris Robinson's lyrics again focus on failed relationships, the search for meaning in a troubled existence, and salvation from a vividly painted purgatory.

Three Snakes and One Charm (1996) adds an additional helping of Led Zeppelinstyle hard rock bombast to the group's sound, again augmented by pedal steel player Bruce Kaphan, as well as the Dirty Dozen horn section and banjo player Rick Taylor. With the exception of the Beatles-inspired psychedelic pop number "One Mirror Too Many," though, the album was not an artistic leap forward for the group.

By Your Side (1999) reigns in the band's more expansive songs for succinct three- and four-minute tracks that recapture the energy of their debut, though without the more instantly hummable melodies. The Crowes joined former Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page for a mid-2000 tour, which yielded a well-received live double album, Live at the Greek (2000), featuring a mixture of Zeppelin songs and blues standards. The group again clashed with retailers, this time over the album's exclusive online distribution through the website Musicmaker.com.

A greatest hits album, Greatest Hits 19901999, was released in mid-2000 and Chris Robinson married actress Kate Hudson, daughter of actress Goldie Hawn, on New Year's Eve of that year. Still relying on the combination of Rich Robinson's bombastic, blues-inspired guitar riffs and Chris Robinson's ragged vocals, Lions (2001) is the sound of a leaner, more straightforward Black Crowes. "Lickin'" is a pile-up of fuzz-toned guitar licks, while the Robinsons pay homage to their rock star status in the hard-driving "Soul Singing" with the lyrics "I've been down / Cascading and blue without a sound / Now I've traded my black feathers for a crown."

An outing with the battling Gallagher brothers of Oasis, cheekily called the "Brotherly Love" tour, followed in June 2001. By January 2002, though, the strain had proven too much, as the group announced an indefinite hiatus. Following the release of a live album, Chris Robinson emerged with his solo debut, New Earth Mud, in the fall of 2002, while Rich Robinson worked on his solo debut, indicating in interviews that the hiatus was permanent.

Though tagged as classic rock fetishists/revivalists at first, the Black Crowes grew into their sound, proving they were interested not merely in aping the beloved music of their youth, but in emulating it in order to bring it into a new century.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Shake Your Money Maker (American, 1990); The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion (American, 1992); Amorica (American, 1994); Three Snakes and One Charm (American, 1996); By Your Side (Columbia, 1999); Lions (V2, 2001); Live (V2, 2002).


gil kaufman

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