Original lineup of Blackhawk (Henry Paul, Dave Robbins, Van Stephenson)
|Origin||Nashville, Tennessee, USA|
|Labels||Arista Nashville, Columbia, Rust, Radiance, Airline|
|Associated acts||Outlaws, Restless Heart, Keni Thomas|
|Past members||Anthony Crawford
Blackhawk is an American country music group founded in 1992 by Henry Paul (lead vocals, mandolin, acoustic guitar), Van Stephenson (background vocals, electric guitar), and Dave Robbins (background vocals, keyboards). Several backing musicians also performed with the trio; however, these backing musicians were not officially part of Blackhawk until 2008.
Prior to the group's formation, Robbins and Stephenson had co-written several Number One singles for the country pop band Restless Heart, and Stephenson had also charted two pop hits in the early 1980s. Paul was previously a member of the Southern rock band Outlaws as well.
In 1993, Blackhawk was signed to a record deal with Arista Nashville. Their debut single, "Goodbye Says It All", was released that year, peaking at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks (now Hot Country Songs) charts, and their first album (1994's BlackHawk) was certified 2× Multi-Platinum by the RIAA. Throughout the rest of the 1990s, the band continued to chart several singles, in addition to releasing three more albums and a Greatest Hits package.
Van Stephenson departed the group in 2000 due to complications from skin cancer. He was replaced with Randy Threet (also a former member of the Outlaws), who made his first appearance on Spirit Dancer, the band's fifth studio album. After Threet's departure in 2003, Anthony Crawford took over as tenor vocalist and lead guitarist; Crawford was, in turn, succeeded by Michael Randall four years later. From early 2008 until he re-joined in 2010, Robbins left the group to resume his songwriting career, and Threet re-joined. Since then, BlackHawk's backing band has been subsumed into the main group, which comprises Paul (lead vocals, guitar, mandolin), Randy Threet (bass guitar, background vocals), Chris Anderson (lead guitar, background vocals), Dave Robbins (keyboards, background vocals), and Monte Yoho (drums, percussion).
Blackhawk was founded in 1992 by lead vocalist/guitarist Henry Paul, vocalist/guitarist Van Stephenson, and keyboardist/vocalist Dave Robbins (born May 26, 1959). The group's name was derived from the Stutz Blackhawk, a model of car. All three members had experience with other musicians prior to the formation; Stephenson, a former solo artist who charted two hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in the mid-1980s, had written several songs for the country pop band Restless Heart, frequently collaborating with Robbins. In addition, Henry Paul was formerly a member of Outlaws, a Southern rock band.
In 1993, Blackhawk signed to Arista Nashville, releasing their debut single "Goodbye Says It All" that year. The song, which peaked at No. 11 on the Hot Country Songs charts in early 1994, served as the lead-off to their self-titled debut album, which also produced four more singles: "Every Once in a While", "I Sure Can Smell the Rain", "Down in Flames", and the Jeff Black-penned "That's Just About Right". These songs all reached Top Ten on the country charts. Blackhawk was certified 2× Multi-Platinum by the RIAA for shipping two million copies in the United States.
Blackhawk's second album, Strong Enough, was released in 1995. Its lead-off single, "I'm Not Strong Enough to Say No" peaked at No. 2, followed by "Like There Ain't No Yesterday" at No. 3. Both of these singles were also Number One hits on the RPM Top Country Tracks charts in Canada. However, none of the other three singles from the album reached Top Ten in either country with the exception of "Big Guitar" reaching No. 8 in Canada, and "King of the World", the final single, fell short of the Top 40. Nonetheless, Strong Enough earned the group an RIAA gold certification for selling 500,000 copies.
Love & Gravity and The Sky's the Limit
Love & Gravity was the title of Blackhawk's third album, released in 1997. Only two singles were released from this album: the lead-off "Hole in My Heart" at No. 31 and "Postmarked Birmingham", one of Phil Vassar's first compositions, at No. 37. The group's chart success was restored in late 1998, however, with the release of "There You Have It", which went on to peak at No. 4. This song brought Blackhawk to the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time, peaking at No. 41 on that chart. "There You Have It" was the first of two singles from 1998's The Sky's the Limit, which also produced the No. 27 "Your Own Little Corner of My Heart".
Greatest Hits and Spirit Dancer
In 2000, Blackhawk released their Greatest Hits collection, composed of the greatest hits from their first four albums. One of this album's newly recorded tracks, "I Need You All the Time", was a minor Top 40 hit on the country charts. Shortly afterward, Stephenson departed the group, due to complications from skin cancer, from which he died in 2001.
Stephenson was replaced by Randy Threet, another former member of The Outlaws, who formerly served as the bass guitarist in Blackhawk's backing band, BackHawk. In 2002, the group left Arista for Columbia Records, with one album (2002's Spirit Dancer) being released on that label before the group was dropped in 2003. That same year, Threet left as well, with Anthony Crawford taking his place.
In 2005, Blackhawk sang background vocals on Keni Thomas' single "Gloryland", which was originally recorded by the band themselves on Spirit Dancer. A year later, the band signed to Rust Records, releasing two singles but no album, due in part to the label's closure. Crawford also left in 2006, with Michael Randall succeeding him. Robbins left in 2008 and was replaced with Jon Coleman. That same year, the group's backing band — which by then comprised Chris Anderson (lead guitar, background vocals), Randy Threet (bass guitar, background vocals), and Monte Yoho (drums, percussion) — was assumed into the official lineup of BlackHawk. A live album was released in September 2008 on Airline Records.
On February 9, 2010 Blackhawk announced they were returning to the studio to work on a new album. The band hopes to have the new album completed by May 2010 and have announced several tour dates.
In July 2010, it was announced that Jon Coleman left the band to play for Trace Adkins. Founding member and keyboardist/vocalist Dave Robbins has agreed to tour with Blackhawk, although it is unknown if his schedule will allow him to join the band on a permanent basis. Taken from the official Blackhawk website and according to Henry Paul, "We are all are glad to have Dave back in the band and hope he decides to stay for the long haul."
"Down from the mountain" was the band's sixth studio album and was released in 2011. It contains 9 new songs from the band and a different version of the song "Forgiveness", which appeared on the band's previous studio album, "Spirit Dancer".
In addition to its three core members, Blackhawk was originally accompanied by a backing band called Backhawk, which comprised Tere Bertke (bass guitar), Dale Oliver (guitar), and Bobby Huff (drums). Oliver left in the early 2000s for a career composing theme music for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. Blackhawk began counting its backing band as official members in 2008.
- Blackhawk (1994)
- Strong Enough (1995)
- Love & Gravity (1997)
- The Sky's the Limit (1998)
- Spirit Dancer (2002)
- Down from the Mountain (2011)
- Brothers of the Southland (2014)
Compilation and specialty albums
- Greatest Hits (2000)
- Greatest Hits Live (2008)