Guitare Xtreme Magazine # 87 – A guitar lesson with Rich Robinson (Black Crowes/Magpie Salute)
Richard Spencer “Rich” Robinson (born May 24, 1969) is an American musician and founding member of the rock and roll band The Black Crowes. Along with older brother Chris Robinson, Rich formed the band in 1984 (originally called Mr. Crowes Garden) while the two were attending Walton High School in Marietta, Georgia. At age 15, Rich wrote the music to what would become one of the band’s first singles; “She Talks to Angels”.
Robinson was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and grew up in the East Cobb County / Marietta suburbs of Atlanta. He is the son of Nancy Jane (née Bradley) and Stanley “Stan” Robinson. His father’s single, “Boom-A-Dip-Dip”, was #83 on the 1959 Billboard charts. The first incarnation of what would become the Black Crowes appeared as early as 1984. The band were then named Mr. Crowe’s Garden after a favorite childhood fairy tale. Robinson has stated that, because of his young age, he would have to sneak in and out the venues they performed and would be refused admittance if he returned the next day to attend a gig himself.
By 1989, the band had become The Black Crowes and had gained momentum in their native Georgia. Producer George Drakoulias discovered the band during a New York City show the band gave that year, and had them signed to Rick Rubin’s then newly formed Def American label. Recording sessions began almost immediately and the band’s debut, $hake Your Money Maker, was released in 1990 to a wide charting success and good critical reception. Much of the album showcased the skills of then-21 years old Rich, from the opening riff of “Twice As Hard” to the melody of Mainstream Rock chart-topping hit “She Talks to Angels”. The band quickly hit the road in support of the album, first with Aerosmith (1990), then with ZZ Top (1991). Having been fired from the latter for behavior issues, the band started its own tour in 1991.
The $hake Your Money Maker Tour was followed by the 1992 release of The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion. Departing from the more traditional rock & roll approach of their first album, the album featured more syncopated rhythms and generally longer songs (with three songs exceeding 6 minutes). The single Remedy reached #1 on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart in May 1992. Extensive touring, including headlining shows and festivals in Europe and Japan followed the release of the album, with the band appearing at the 1993 Pinkpop Festival.
Although the band’s popularity never again reached the pinnacle of their first two albums, The Black Crowes established a loyal and steady following across the United States and, to a lesser extent, United Kingdom and continental Europe.
Amorica (1994) and Three Snakes and One Charm saw the band dwelling further into jam rock, before By Your Side returned to a more straightforward sound, more relating to Shake Your Money Maker while retaining musical elements developed since Amorica. After releasing Lions in 2001 and touring to support it, the Black Crowes took an indefinite hiatus….