Born near Greenwood, Mississippi, United States, Robinson left his home at the age of 18 to move to Memphis, Tennessee where he recorded his first single "Tennessee Woman" in 1957. He settled in Chicago in 1962. He recorded his signature song, "Somebody Loan Me a Dime", in 1967 on the Palos label, the nationwide distribution of which was aborted by a freak snow storm hitting the Windy City. Covered by Boz Scaggs in 1969, the song was misattributed, resulting in legal battles. It has since become a blues standard, being "part of the repertoire of one out of every two blues artists", according to 1997's Encyclopedia of Blues.
Robinson re-recorded the song for the critically acclaimed album Somebody Loan Me a Dime in 1974, the first of three he would produce under the Alligator Records label. Robinson was nominated for a Grammy Award for the second, 1977's I Hear Some Blues Downstairs.
Fenton Robinson played guitar on Larry Davis original recording of "Texas Flood". Although Davis later became a guitar player, for "Texas Flood" Fenton Robinson provided the distinctive guitar parts, with Davis on vocals and bass, James Booker on piano, David Dean on tenor saxophone, and an unknown drummer.
In the 1970s he was arrested and imprisoned for involuntary manslaughter in connection with a car accident. Paroled after nine months, he continued playing in Chicago clubs and later taught guitar.
Robinson died of complications from brain cancer, in Rockford, Illinois. Robinson's signature song, "Somebody Loan Me A Dime" can be heard in The Blues Brothers on the radio when Jake (John Belushi) is being transported and paroled.
- List of blues musicians
- List of Chicago blues musicians
- List of Texas blues musicians
- List of Electric blues musicians
- Chicago Blues Festival
- Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues - A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara: Praeger Publishers. p. 201. ISBN 978-0313344237.
- Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues - From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. pp. 159–160. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
- Herzhaft, Gérard; Harris Herzhaft; Paul Harris; Brigitte Debord; Jerry Haussler; Anton J. Mikofsky (1997). Encyclopedia of the Blues. Brigitte Debord (trans.). University of Arkansas Press. p. 278. ISBN 1-55728-452-0.
- Tomko, Gene (2006). "Robinson, Fenton". In Edward M. Komara. Encyclopedia of the Blues: A - J. Routledge. p. 835. ISBN 0-415-92699-8.
- Cochran, Robert (2005). Our Own Sweet Sounds: A Celebration of Popular Music in Arkansas. University of Arkansas Press. p. 58. ISBN 1-55728-793-7.
- Doc Rock. "The Dead Rock Stars Club 1996 - 1997". Thedeadrockstarsclub.com. Retrieved 2015-10-06.