The Black Crowes

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The Black Crowes
Black crowes-Newport.jpg
The Black Crowes in 2008
Background information
Origin Marietta, Georgia, United States
Genres Blues rock, hard rock, Southern rock, jam rock
Years active 1989–2002, 2005–2010, 2013
Labels Def American, Columbia, V2, Silver Arrow
Associated acts Jimmy Page, Chris Robinson Brotherhood
Website www.blackcrowes.com
Members Chris Robinson
Rich Robinson
Steve Gorman
Sven Pipien
Adam MacDougall
Jackie Greene
Past members Johnny Colt
Jeff Cease
Eddie Harsch
Marc Ford
Audley Freed
Greg Rzab
Andy Hess
Bill Dobrow
Paul Stacey
Rob Clores
Luther Dickinson

The Black Crowes are an American rock band formed in 1989. Their discography includes nine studio albums, four live albums and several charting singles. The band was signed to Def American Recordings in 1989 by producer George Drakoulias and released their debut album, Shake Your Money Maker, the following year. The follow-up, The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, reached the top of the Billboard 200 in 1992.

After a hiatus between 2002 and 2005, the band released Warpaint, which hit number 5 on the Billboard chart.[1] After the release of a double album, the greatest hits-like and mostly acoustic Croweology in August 2010, the band started a 20th anniversary tour that was followed by an ongoing second hiatus. The band has announced that they will return in early 2013. However, in December 2013, the band returned to hiatus status with no specific return date.

The band has sold over 30 million albums,[2] and is listed at number 92 on VH1's "100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock".[3] They were also labeled by Melody Maker as "The Most Rock 'n' Roll Rock 'n' Roll Band in the World"[4] and the readers of Rolling Stone voted them 'Best New American Band' in 1990.[5]

History[edit]

Formation: 1984–89[edit]

The first incarnation of the band,"Mr. Crowe's Garden"; named after Leonard Leslie Brookes children's book Johnny Crow's Garden, began in 1984 in Marietta, Georgia. Influenced by contemporary local acts like R.E.M., 1960's psychedelic pop and classic southern rock, they gradually evolved into a revivalist band dedicated to 1970s-era blues rock.[5] Although the band has had a high turnover rate throughout their history, the driving force behind the band has always been brothers Chris and Rich Robinson who initially formed the band while going to Walton High School. In 1989, the band, who have been heavily influenced by The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Faces, Buddy Guy, Otis Redding, and Humble Pie, made a demo that led to their signing with Def American.[citation needed]

Height of fame: 1990–95[edit]

The band released its first studio album, Shake Your Money Maker, in 1990. Supported by singles "Hard to Handle", "She Talks to Angels", "Jealous Again", "Twice As Hard", "Sister Luck", and "Seeing Things", their debut album received multi-platinum certification and eventually sold over three million copies.[6] Their cover of Otis Redding's "Hard to Handle" and their acoustic ballad "She Talks to Angels" both achieved top 30 positions on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1991. 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 the Soviet Union, where they opened for Mötley Crüe and Queensrÿche, among others.[7]

After replacing guitarist Jeff Cease with Marc Ford from blues-rock power trio Burning Tree, the band released its second album The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion in 1992. The album debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200. The effort spawned the singles "Remedy", "Sting Me", "Thorn in My Pride" and "Hotel Illness", all of which topped the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart. "Remedy" and "Thorn in My Pride" also charted on the Hot 100 in 1992.[8]

Because of the prevalence of studio musician, and former Allman brother, Chuck Leavell's piano and organ parts on the first release, the band hired a keyboardist of its own, Eddie Harsch. He became a permanent member of the group beginning on the "High As the Moon" tour.

In 1994 the now six-piece released Amorica after scrapping the unreleased album Tall the previous year. The album eventually reached "Gold" status, selling over 500,000 copies. The album cover featured a photo showing a woman's pubic hair.[9][10] As some stores would not carry the album due to the cover, an alternate version was released simultaneously with a solid black background. While on tour to support Amorica, the band opened for the Grateful Dead in Tampa on April 7, 1995, the only time the bands performed together.

Middle era: 1996–2001[edit]

Three Snakes and One Charm was released in July 1996. The band's support tour included a summer stint with the 1997 Furthur Festival, along with Ratdog, Bruce Hornsby and others. During this period, the band recorded an album called Band, which was scrapped.[11] Guitarist Marc Ford was fired and bassist Johnny Colt subsequently left the group, dissolving the Crowes lineup of the previous three albums. The unreleased tracks from Tall and Band surfaced among tape trading circles and were later officially released on The Lost Crowes (2006).

The band regrouped, adding Sven Pipien on bass prior to its next recording sessions. By Your Side was released in January 1999; the 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, formerly of Cry of Love, joined prior to the recording of By Your Side but was not included in the recording sessions.

In October 1999, the band was joined by Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page for two pairs of shows in New York and Los Angeles, yielding a live release, Live at the Greek on TVT Records. Due to contractual issues with Columbia, Live at the Greek did not feature any of the band's songs performed with Page. The collaboration led to a more extensive tour with Page and The Who in summer 2000, during which Pipien was replaced by Greg Rzab. Following the tour, singer Chris Robinson married actress Kate Hudson on December 31, 2000,[12] before heading back to the studio to record the band's sixth studio album.

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.[13] The band launched its support of the album with the month-long Tour of Brotherly Love with Oasis and Spacehog in May and June 2001. Throughout the rest of 2001, the band embarked on the "Listen Massive" headlining tour in support of Lions, which spanned Europe and Japan before concluding with 36 US shows. The band effectively dissolved in January 2002 with the departure of drummer Steve Gorman and an announcement that the band was "taking a hiatus."[14]

First hiatus and reunion: 2002–05[edit]

The Black Crowes playing at the Hammerstein Ballroom, 2005

A live album pieced together from two 2001 shows performed at Boston's Orpheum Theatre was released in August 2002. In 2004, some members of the band did reunite to play "Sometimes Salvation" with Gov't Mule at the 2004 Jammy Awards. During the hiatus, Chris Robinson released albums New Earth Mud in 2002 and This Magnificent Distance in 2004. Meanwhile, Rich Robinson formed a short-lived band called Hookah Brown before releasing his own solo album, Paper, in 2004.

In early 2005, the Robinson brothers and 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 [clarification needed] during a four-night stand at The Tabernacle in Atlanta. The reinvigorated band continued to tour throughout 2005, including a summer tour opening for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and 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.

Changing lineup and renewed success: 2006–09[edit]

In fall 2006, Eddie Harsch and Marc Ford left the band; the latter quit via fax on the verge of a fall tour. Replacing Harsch and Ford were Rob Clores and Paul Stacey, respectively. In August 2007, the band replaced Clores with Adam MacDougall. Stacey's tenure was never intended to be permanent and when the band invited guitar player Luther Dickinson from North Mississippi Allstars to perform on their upcoming record, entitled Warpaint Dickinson officially replaced Stacey as guitarist. Stacey continued to work with the band, however, as producer of Warpaint.

A live album entitled Live at the Roxy, culled from the 2006 Brothers of a Feather performances (featuring Chris and Rich Robinson performing mostly acoustic sets) was released on July 10, 2007. The album featured performances of old and new Black Crowes material mixed with covers, taken from a three-night run at The Roxy in Los Angeles in early 2006.

The Black Crowes' first album since reforming, Warpaint, was released on March 3, 2008. Warpaint was critically acclaimed and the album landed at number 5 on the Billboard 200, the band's best debut since The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion topped the charts.[1] The band launched an international tour March 24 when they played the East Coast Blues & Roots Music Festival in Australia. The band continued its Australia and New Zealand tour — the first since 1992 — through April 5, before departing for a European trek. A US tour began in May and concluded in December with another five-night stand at The Fillmore in San Francisco. Also that year, The Black Crowes filed a lawsuit against country singer Gretchen Wilson, claiming that she infringed upon their copyright for the song "Jealous Again".[15]

In April 2009, the band released a two-disc live album entitled Warpaint Live. The first disc consists of the Warpaint album played in its entirety, while the second disc is 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.[16] The band released its eighth studio album, Before the Frost...Until the Freeze, later that year. A CD purchase of the album is accompanied with a download code to receive the album's companion release, ...Until the Freeze.[17] The vinyl version is a double album that includes all of the songs but in a different running order. These albums resulted from five days of recording at Levon Helms Studio in Woodstock, and presents a combination of new material and a few new cover songs recorded live in front of an audience. Continuing the trend set with the previous album Warpaint the Crowes incorporated more of their country and bluegrass roots in these recordings as well as venturing into new avenues such as disco in the song "I Ain't Hidin'". A DVD of these sessions, including some interview and backstage segments, was released named Cabin Fever.

Second hiatus and return: 2010–present[edit]

On April 21, 2010, the band announced an August 3 release date for the double, all acoustic album Croweology, as well as tour dates for the "Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys" tour, which featured two 90-minute sets at the majority of shows: one acoustic and one electric. After the tour, the band went on another "indefinite" hiatus.[18]

On November 26, 2010, The Black Crowes released a special edition Record Store Day Black Friday 10" vinyl picture disc w/download card called, Say Goodnight to The Bad Guys/Remedy[19] (acoustic live) for independent record stores.

After ending the US tour at the The Fillmore in December the Crowes played nine Goodnight to the Bad Guys shows in Europe in July 2011. These included festivals in Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium. as well as a few headlining shows where, comparable to the US tour, they played a 90 minute acoustic and 90 minute electric set. The final four shows included two in London (the second of which featured a Jimmy Page-led encore), followed by two that saw them return to Amsterdam's Paradiso.

On December 25, 2012, it was announced that The Black Crowes had ended their hiatus and will embark on a five-show UK trek in March 2013, followed by a 21-date US tour that will take place from April to early May.[20] Instead of Luther Dickinson, there will be Jackie Greene on guitars and backup vocals.

On March 19, 2013, the band released their fourth live album titled Wiser for the Time. The album was released as a digital download and as a four record vinyl set. The album was recorded during the band's 2010 series of concerts in New York City. On April 23, 2013, The Black Crowes returned to their hometown of Atlanta and played at The Tabernacle in front of a capacity crowd.

In July 2013, the band kicked off a tour with the Tedeschi Trucks Band.[21] In December 2013, the band returned to hiatus status with no specific return date.

Discography[edit]

Studio albums

Personnel[edit]

Members of Mr. Crowe's Garden[edit]