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Ford in February 2007
December 16, 1951|
Woodlake, California, U.S.
|Genres||Blues, jazz, fusion, rock|
|Associated acts||KISS, Miles Davis, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, Yellowjackets, Chick Corea, Gregg Allman Band, L.A. Express|
Robben Ford (born December 16, 1951) is an American blues, jazz, and rock guitarist. He was a member of the L.A. Express and Yellowjackets, and has collaborated with Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, George Harrison, Larry Carlton and Kiss. He was named one of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of the 20th Century" by Musician magazine.
Robben Ford was born in Woodlake, California and raised in Ukiah, California. He began playing the saxophone at age 10 and the guitar at age 14. Robben and his brothers created the Charles Ford Blues Band in honor of and named after their father.
At age 18, Ford's band was hired to play with Charlie Musselwhite, and recorded two albums The Charles Ford Band and Discovering the Blues. He recorded two albums with Jimmy Witherspoon called Live and Spoonful. In the 1970s, Ford joined the jazz fusion band, L.A. Express, led by saxophonist Tom Scott. In 1974 the band supported George Harrison on his American tour and played on the Joni Mitchell albums The Hissing of Summer Lawns and Miles of Aisles.
In 1977, Ford was one of half a dozen or so session players asked to play the guitar solo for the Steely Dan song "Peg." In the end, the group went with the version by Jay Graydon instead. In 2006, a tribute album to Steely Dan, The Royal Dan, was released, with Ford covering "Peg" in his own style.
In 1982, Ford was one of several guitarists who appeared on the KISS album Creatures of the Night, playing lead guitar on the songs "Rock And Roll Hell" and "I Still Love You".
Ford worked briefly with Miles Davis in 1986; and can be heard on Davis' Montreux box set. Ford released his album, Talk to Your Daughter in 1988. He joined Philippe Saisse, Marcus Miller and J.T. Lewis in the cast of The Sunday Night Band for the second and final season of the late-night NBC television program, Sunday Night in 1989. In the 1990s he released the albums, Robben Ford and the Blue Line, and Tiger Walk.
Robben Ford has received five Grammy Award nominations and was named one of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of the 20th Century" by Musician magazine. He credited pianist and arranger Roger Kellaway and saxophonist and arranger Tom Scott, whom he met while playing for Joni Mitchell, as a major influence on his musical development.
Ford considers his first good electric a Guild Starfire III with a single florentine cutaway. He used a Gibson L-5 when he played with Charlie Musselwhite and the Ford Band, although he never thought it was a great guitar. While playing with Jimmy Witherspoon, Ford traded the L-5, plus $200, for a Super 400. When Ford began playing with the L.A. Express and Joni Mitchell, he used a 1958 Gibson dot-neck 335.
After Ford's Talk to Your Daughter album was released in 1988, Robben used a Robben Ford Signature model guitar created in a collaboration with Dan Smith of Fender and produced in Japan between 1987 and 1993. That guitar was based on the Fender Master Series Esprit Ultra that was produced from 1983 to 1986 in Japan. In 1987, new management at Fender authorized the first production of the Robben Ford Signature guitar. In 1994, production of the guitar moved from Japan to the Fender Custom Shop. Three models were produced: Ultra FM (with a carved maple top), Ultra SP (with a carved spruce top), and the Elite FM (with a carved flame maple top). The guitar line continued to be produced until 2002 when it was discontinued by Fender.
Sometimes he plays a vintage 1960 Fender Telecaster, Gibson Les Pauls, or a 1963 Gibson SG. Ford also owns other guitars including a 1966 Epiphone Riviera (with the original Bigsby tremolo removed and replaced with a stop tailpiece).
In a May 1st-16th 2017 tour which ended in Niagara Falls NY, Ford debuted a newly acquired 1953 Gibson Les Paul.
Robben Ford uses Dumble Amplifiers and Celestion G12-65 speakers. In 1983, Alexander Dumble made Robben's first Dumble Overdrive Special (serial #002) for Robben. Dumble is the owner of serial #001.
With the Blue Line
With the Ford Blues Band
With the Yellowjackets
With Mark Ford
With Charlie Musselwhite
With Joni Mitchell
With Tom Scott and the LA Express
With Dizzy Gillespie
With Jimmy Witherspoon
With Georgie Fame
With Rickie Lee Jones
With Bob Malach
With Miles Davis
With David Sanborn
With Neil Larsen
With Ruthie Foster
- Robben Ford and the Blue Line: In Concert (Recorded April 7,1993)
- Robben Ford: In Concert: Revisited (Recorded: September 18, 1997) (Released 2008)
- Robben Ford: New Morning - The Paris Concert (Recorded May, 2001)
- Autour Du Blues: Larry Carlton and Robben Ford (Released 2006)
- Robben Ford Trio: New Morning the Paris Concert: Revisited (Released July 2009)
- Scott Yanow. "Robben Ford". AllMusic. Retrieved November 27, 2011.
- Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. p. 110. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
- Bob Porter radio show December 8, 2012, on WBGO "Portraits in Blue"
- Sunday Night – episode #121 (1989), Broadway Video, Inc.
- Karen Lindell (2008-01-31). "Ojai's Robben Ford doesn't mince words, or licks, on his Grammy-nominated blues CD". VC-Star. Retrieved 2015-09-07.
-  Archived October 26, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Robben Ford Guitar Lesson". Blues Revolution, True Fire. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
- "Robben Ford". Vintage Guitar® magazine. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
- "Robben Ford Gets Lean and Clean". Guitar Player Magazine® magazine. Retrieved January 30, 2014.
- "Rig Rundown: Robben Ford". Premier Guitar® magazine. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
- "10 Things We Learned from Robben Ford". Premier Guitar® magazine. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
- "Welcome to the web site of Anne Kerry Ford". Annekerryford.com. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
- "Robben Ford | Album Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 11 December 2016.
- "Larry Carlton and Robben Ford : Unplugged Review". Guitarhoo!. Guitarhoo.com. 31 March 2013. Retrieved 31 December 2014.