The Black Crowes
The Black Crowes (1984-2002, 2005-2015, 2019-present): a Hard Rock band from Marietta, Georgia, USA.
merican rock band The Black Crowes started out under the name of "Mr. Crowe's Garden", so named after Leonard Leslie Brookes children's book Johnny Crow's Garden. They opened shop in 1984, influenced by contemporary local acts like R.E.M., as well as 1960s psychedelic pop and classic southern rock, but gradually evolved into a revivalist band dedicated to 1970s-era blues rock. Although the band has had a high turnover during their tenure, the driving force behind the act has always been brothers Chris (lead vocals/harmonica/acoustic guitar/percussion) and Rich Robinson (guitar/backing vocals), who initially formed the band while attending high school. Their first demo was for 'A&M Records' in 1987; they were offered a demo deal by the record company and were paid $2,000 by to cover production costs.
Their first studio album, Shake Your Money Maker (1990), was supported by the singles Hard to Handle, She Talks to Angels, Jealous Again, Twice As Hard, Sister Luck and Seeing Things; in essence the album was chalked full of hits and received multi-platinum certification to eventually sell more than five million units. Their cover of Otis Redding's Hard to Handle and acoustic ballad She Talks to Angels, both gained top 30 positions on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1991 on their own. To support the album, tours ensured. During one of these tours, the band opened for ZZ Top on a tour sponsored by Miller Beer, from which they were fired in March 1991 after Chris Robinson's verbal tirade aimed at Miller. The band launched its own tour that May and later took part in a Monsters of Rock tour in Europe, where they opened for Metallica, AC/DC, Motley Crue and Queensryche. During this time the band had featured Steve Gorman (drums/percussion), Johnny Colt (Real Name: Charles Brandt; bass) and Jeff Cease (guitar), along with the Robinson brothers.
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After replacing Cease with Marc Ford from blues-rock act Burning Tree, the band released its second album The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion (1992). The album would debut at number 1 on the Billboard 200, spawning the singles Remedy, Sting Me, Thorn in My Pride and Hotel Illness, all topping the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart; Remedy and Thorn in My Pride also charting on the Hot 100 later that year.
In an effort to re-install Chuck Leavell's piano and organ parts from the first release, the band hired a keyboardist of its own in the form of Eddie Harsch who would become a permanent member soon after. The resulting album, Amorica (1994), then followed after scrapping the unreleased album Tall the previous year. The album eventually achieved gold status, selling over 500,000 copies. The disc was not without controversy, however, for the cover featured a picture of a woman's crotch wearing a thong depicting the US flag with visible pubic hair; the idea was was taken from a 1976 issue of Hustler magazine. As some stores would not carry the album because of the cover, a different version was released simultaneously with a solid black background, showing only the triangle featuring the flag part of the picture.
Three Snakes and One Charm (1996) followed. The intention was to follow it soon after with an album titled Band, but this was subsequently scrapped only to be revitalized in 2006 with it being released under the title The Lost Crowes. It would be during this time, however, that Ford was fired, while Colt left the group.
It was not long before Goreman and the Robinson's hired Eddie Harsch for keyboards and Sven Pipien on bass to release By Your Side (1999). This album stripped away the more adventurous sounds of Amorica and Three Snakes and One Charm in favor of leaner, soul-influenced songs. Guitarist Audley Freed (ex-Cry of Love), joined prior to the recording but was not included in the final recording sessions.
In October 1999, the act was joined by Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page for two sets of shows in New York, Los Angeles and Worcester, Massachusetts; the last session yielding the live release, Live at the Greek on 'TVT Records' but because of contractual issues with 'Columbia', the album could not feature any of the band's songs performed with Page. Not to be defeated, a more extensive tour with Page and The Who followed in the summer of 2000, during which Pipien was replaced by Greg Rzab.
In May 2001, the band released Lions on Virgin mogul Richard Branson's 'V2' record label; the album peaked at number 20 on the charts. But this new success wasn't to last, for the band effectively dissolved in January 2002 with the departure of Gorman; the act would soon after announce that they were "taking a hiatus."
A live album pieced together from two 2001 shows performed at Boston's Orpheum Theatre was released posthumously in August 2002. In 2004, some members of the band reunited to play Sometimes Salvation with Gov't Mule at the 2004 Jammy Awards. During the hiatus, Chris Robinson released New Earth Mud (2002) and This Magnificent Distance (2004). Meanwhile, Rich Robinson formed a short-lived band called Hookah Brown before releasing his own solo effort, Paper, in 2004.
In early 2005, the Robinson brothers along with Eddie Harsch reassembled the band, bringing Marc Ford and Sven Pipien back into the fold and in the absence of founding member Steve Gorman, recruited drummer Bill Dobrow, from Rich's solo band. Dobrow's tenure was short-lived, however, as Gorman rejoined the band soon after. The new act toured throughout 2005, including five nights at The Fillmore in San Francisco. The second show at The Fillmore was filmed in high definition and released later in 2006 as Freak 'n' Roll into the Fog on DVD, Blu-ray and audio CD.
In fall 2006, Harsch and Ford left the act again. Replacing them would be Rob Clores and Paul Stacey, respectively. In August 2007, the band Clores would be in turn replaced with Adam MacDougall. Stacey's tenure was never intended to be permanent and when the band invited guitar player Luther Dickinson to perform on their upcoming record, Warpaint (2008), Dickinson officially replaced Stacey; Stacey continued to work with the band, however, as producer of the album.
In April 2009, the band released the two-disc live album, Warpaint Live. The first disc consisted of the Warpaint album played in its entirety, while the second disc was made up of catalog classics and cover selections. The entire performance contained on the set was recorded on March 20, 2008, at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles. A DVD of the same performance was released on June 30, 2009. The band released its eighth studio album, Before the Frost...Until the Freeze, later that year. A CD purchase of the album was accompanied with a download code to receive the album's companion release, ...Until the Freeze. Continuing the trend set with Warpaint, the band incorporated more country and bluegrass in these recordings, harping back to their beginnings, as well as venturing into disco in the song I Ain't Hidin'. But after their double, all-acoustic album Croweology (2010), the act called another hiatus over a disagreement between the Robinson brothers over an alleged proposal regarding ownership of the band. It wouldn't be until 2019 that the dispute was settled, but the reformed band was met with a luke-warm reception by fans who saw act featuring no original members but the brothers. Although Pipien would rejoin, the act was once again interrupted, this time by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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