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Steve Forbert

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Steve Forbert
Steve Forbert 2017
Steve Forbert 2017
Background information
Birth nameSamuel Stephen Forbert
Born (1954-12-13) December 13, 1954 (age 69)
Meridian, Mississippi, United States
  • Musician
  • guitarist
  • singer-songwriter
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • harmonica
Years active1978–present
Websitewww.steveforbert.com Edit this at Wikidata

Samuel Stephen Forbert (born December 13, 1954)[1] is an American pop/folk singer-songwriter. His 1979 song "Romeo's Tune" reached No. 11 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and No. 13 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. It also spent two weeks at No. 8 in Canada.[2] Forbert's first four albums all charted on the Billboard 200 chart, with Jackrabbit Slim certified gold in Canada. In 2004, his Any Old Time album was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Traditional Folk category.[3] Forbert has released twenty studio and three live albums.

Forbert's songs have been recorded by several artists, including Rosanne Cash, Keith Urban, Marty Stuart and Webb Wilder.[4] In 2017, a tribute album, An American Troubadour: The Songs of Steve Forbert, was released, with covers of his songs by twenty-one artists.[5] Bob Harris of BBC Radio 2 said Forbert has "One of the most distinctive voices anywhere."[6]

In September 2018, he released his self-penned memoir, Big City Cat: My Life in Folk Rock, with editor Therese Boyd. It accompanied the release of his 19th studio album The Magic Tree on Blue Rose Music.

Early life[edit]

Forbert was born in Meridian, Mississippi, United States.[7] As a child, he fell in love with music, even playing air guitar in a pretend band he called The Mosquitos. Due to a fascination with Top 40 radio, he proclaimed himself a "music junkie." At 17, he started writing songs, and soon moved to New York City in 1976,[7] to experience the punk rock scene of the 1970s. There he performed on the street to passersby in Greenwich Village, and had early shows as a singer with a guitar and harmonica at punk club CBGB before moving on to folk venues Kenny's Castaways and Folk City.[8][9]

Musical career[edit]

Forbert signed a recording contract with Nemperor in 1978, and they released his debut album Alive on Arrival that year. While some, like Village Voice, called him "the new Dylan,"[10] of any comparison to Bob Dylan, he said, "You can't pay any attention to that. It was just a cliché back then, and it's nothing I take seriously. I'm off the hook – I don't have to be smarter than everybody else and know all the answers like Bob Dylan."[11]

Even though the sleeve of his second album Jackrabbit Slim stated that "Romeo's Tune" is "dedicated to the memory of Florence Ballard", the song is not really about the Supremes singer who died in 1976. The song, which went to No. 11, was actually written about a girl from Forbert's hometown of Meridian, Mississippi, but was dedicated to Ballard because, as Forbert explained, "that seemed like such bad news to me and such sad news. She wasn't really taken care of by the music business, which is not a new story."[12] The piano part on "Romeo's Tune" was played by former Elvis Presley pianist Bobby Ogdin.[13]

Jackrabbit Slim was recorded completely live at Quadrophonic Studio in Nashville, Tennessee, and the record was produced by John Simon, who had worked with the Band. Jackrabbit Slim peaked at No. 54 in the UK Albums Chart.[14] The album reached No. 20 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart.[15]

Forbert also had a cameo appearance in Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" video, playing her boyfriend.[13]

In 1984, Forbert had a disagreement with his record company Nemperor and contractual issues prevented him from recording for a number of years afterwards.[16] His 1988 album, Streets of This Town, and the 1992 followup The American in Me, were released by Geffen Records.[7] They received significant airplay.[4]

In the years following, Forbert recorded more albums of songs he wrote and sang, accompanied by his guitar. He maintained a constant touring presence as well.[11]

Forbert (r), with guitarist Mark Stuart, performing in 2015

By 1985, Forbert sought out new inspiration and relocated to Nashville. His tribute album to Jimmie Rodgers, Any Old Time, was nominated for a 2004 Grammy Award in the Best Traditional Folk category.[17] In 2006, he was inducted into the Mississippi Music Hall of Fame, and in 2007, Keith Urban covered his hit "Romeo's Tune."[18] The same year, Forbert's music was featured in the film Margot at the Wedding starring Nicole Kidman.[19]

Forbert wrote new music in support of the Occupy Wall St. movement.[20] He also began doing photography using an old LG phone. An exhibit of his cell phone photographs opened at the Tinney Contemporary Art Gallery in Nashville in September 2011.[21]

In 2012, he joined Blue Corn Music, and they released Over With You, produced by Chris Goldsmith (the Blind Boys of Alabama), that same year.[22] Musical backing on the record included Ben Sollee on cello and bass, with Ben Harper guesting on guitar on several tracks.[23] American Songwriter stated "it's all lovely, melancholy, lyrically moving and beautifully performed" and "Like Warren Zevon, Gram Parsons, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Bruce Springsteen, Steve Forbert has left his unmistakable imprint on the landscape of American music."[24]

After the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Forbert released a music video, "Sandy," to raise awareness about the storm and its aftermath.[25]

In 2013, Blue Corn Music re-released Forbert's first two albums, Alive on Arrival and its gold-certified [citation needed] follow-up Jackrabbit Slim. That year marked the 35th anniversary of the release of Alive on Arrival,[16] and Forbert played that album in its entirety at a number of shows.[citation needed] Alive on Arrival was profiled as one of the greatest debut albums ever in the book Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself.[16]

Forbert's memoir, Big City Cat: My Life in Folk-Rock (PFP Publishing, 2018), was edited by Therese Boyd and released in September 2018. The book covers his four-decade-long career.[26] To accompany the book, at the same time, Forbert released The Magic Tree album on Blue Rose Music. The twelve tracks were culled from demos and new material, and builds on his pop and folk rock style.[27] Joining Forbert on The Magic Tree is longtime accompanying guitarist Clay Barnes[28] and the album was produced by Karl Derfler.[26]

Health issues[edit]

In 2017 Forbert received a cancer diagnosis. As a result, he had one kidney removed, received chemotherapy and was able to be diagnosed as cancer free.[29]


Studio albums[edit]

Live albums[edit]

  • King Biscuit Flower Hour: New York, 1982 1996
  • Here's Your Pizza 1997
  • Live at the Bottom Line 2000
  • Jackrabbit Slim (Live) 2020

Compilation albums[edit]

  • The Best of Steve Forbert: What Kinda Guy? Columbia/Sony 1993
  • Young, Guitar Days Madacy/Rolling Tide Records 2001 [studio outtakes 1978-1981]
  • More Young, Guitar Days Valley Entertainment 2002 [studio outtakes 1975-1982]
  • Rock While I Can Rock: The Geffen Years Geffen 2003
  • Early On: The Best Of The Mississippi Recordings Rolling Tide Records 2012
  • Alive on Arrival / Jackrabbit Slim 2CD reissue Blue Corn Records 2013
  • An American Troubadour: The Songs of Steve Forbert Blue Rose Music 2017

Soundtrack albums[edit]


  • 1978: "It Isn't Gonna Be That Way"
  • 1978: "Goin' Down to Laurel"
  • 1979: "Thinkin'"
  • 1979: "Romeo's Tune" – U.S. number 11,[31] AUS number 13, CAN number 8
  • 1980: "Say Goodbye to Little Jo" – U.S. number 85[31]
  • 1980: "The Sweet Love That You Give (Sure Goes a Long Long Way)"
  • 1980: "The Oil Song"
  • 1980: "Big City Cat"
  • 1980: "Song for Katrina"
  • 1980: "Get Well Soon"
  • 1980: "Cellophane City"
  • 1980: "Lonely Girl"
  • 1980: "Schoolgirl"
  • 1982: "When You Walk in the Room"
  • 1982: "Ya Ya (Next to Me)"
  • 1988: "On the Streets of This Town"
  • 1988: "Running on Love"
  • 1992: "Born Too Late"
  • 1992: "Responsibility"
  • 1992: "Baby, Don't"

DVD releases[edit]

  • The Steve Forbert DVD Anthology: You Cannot Win If You Do Not Play, 2005
  • On Stage at World Cafe Live, 2007
  • Steve Forbert in Concert, 2007

SteveForbert.com exclusive releases[edit]

  • Be Here Now: Solo Live Rolling Tide Records 1994
  • Be Here Again: Solo Live Rolling Tide Records 1998
  • Acoustic Live: The WFUV Concert Rolling Tide Records 2000
  • Solo Live in Bethlehem Rolling Tide Records 2002
  • Good Soul Food – Live at the Ark Rolling Tide Records 2004
  • It's Been a Long Time: Live Acoustic with Paul Errico Rolling Tide Records 2006
  • Best of the Downloads Vols. 1 + 2 (live compilation) Rolling Tide Records 2008
  • Meridian CD/DVD Rolling Tide Records 2008
  • Don't Look Down Rolling Tide Records 2011
  • Get Your Motor Running Rolling Tide Records 2012
  • Early On: The Best of the Mississippi Recordings Rolling Tide Records 2012
  • Palladium (live in New York on November 24, 1979) Rolling Tide Records 2013
  • New Liberty Half Vol. 1 (pre-production demos for The Place and the Time) Rolling Tide Records 2013
  • A Safe Past Tense (studio demos from Over with You) Rolling Tide Records 2015

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ankeny, Jason. "Steve Forbert – Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved December 28, 2012.
  2. ^ "Top Singles", Library and Archives Canada, April 19, 1980.
  3. ^ "GRAMMY Award Results for Steve Forbert". Grammy.com. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Price, Robert (November 1, 2018). "Forbert finds the right balance". New Jersey Herald. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  5. ^ "Steve Forbert Covers LP is Alive on Arrival". Bestclassicbands.com. April 2017. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  6. ^ Harris, Bob (August 2018). "Steve Forbert speaks to Bob Harris". BBC Radio 2. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 477. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  8. ^ Daley, Lauren (September 26, 2018). "Steve Forbert: 'I became a music junkie, and that's the way it's been ever since'". The Boston Globe. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
  9. ^ Rockwell, John (December 22, 1978). "Pop Music: Steve Forbert". The New York Times. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
  10. ^ "The 60 Best Songs Ever Written About New York City". Village Voice. December 18, 2014. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  11. ^ a b Forbert, Steve. "Steve Forbert, Seasoned Optimist, In Studio 4A". NPR.org. NPR. Retrieved December 28, 2012.
  12. ^ Wuench, Kevin (December 2018). "Yes, you know Steve Forbert. Just maybe not for his hit song". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  13. ^ a b Doyle, Bill (November 30, 2016). "'ROMEO'S TUNE' BY STEVE FORBERT – DOYLE'S 'NOT-SO-TOP-10′ LIST". NJ 101.5 Radio. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  14. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 207. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  15. ^ a b c "CD Reissue Review: Steve Forbert – Alive on Arrival / Jackrabbit Slim (Blue Corn, 2013)". No Depression. April 13, 2013. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  16. ^ "Piece » Steve Forbert's "Any Old Time"". PRX. February 9, 2004. Retrieved December 28, 2012.
  17. ^ "An Evening with Steve Forbert | Vienna Art & Entertainment, Food & Drink, and Music Events on Patch – Vienna, VA Patch". Vienna.patch.com. May 25, 2012. Retrieved December 28, 2012.
  18. ^ "Steve Forbert". IMDb.com. Retrieved December 28, 2012.
  19. ^ "Protest Song by Steve Forbert". OccupyWallSt.org. Retrieved December 28, 2012.
  20. ^ "Exhibition: Jonathan Postal // Tinney Contemporary". Tinneycontemporary.com. November 19, 2011. Retrieved December 28, 2012.
  21. ^ "Chris Goldsmith". Discogs.com. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  22. ^ "Steve Forbert On Mountain Stage". Npr.org. May 17, 2013. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  23. ^ "Steve Forbert: Over With You". American Songwriter. September 10, 2012. Retrieved December 28, 2012.
  24. ^ Ragogna, Mike (January 18, 2013). "La Costa Perdida: Chatting With Camper Van Beethoven's David Lowery, Plus Steve Forbert's "Sandy" Video". Huffington Post.
  25. ^ a b "Listen: Premiere Of Steve Forbert's New Album "The Magic Tree" Which Comes Out With His Book This Week". Americana Highways. September 12, 2018. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  26. ^ Kennedy, Elise (November 23, 2018). "Steve Forbert "The Magic Tree" (Blue Rose Music, 2018)". Americana UK. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
  27. ^ Burger, Jeff (September 5, 2018). "Album & Book Reviews: Steve Forbert – Big City Cat (book) & The Magic Tree (CD) + Music by Vanessa Peters, Anthony Geraci, Chris Darrow & Max Buda". The Morton Report. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  28. ^ Dickens, Tad (November 14, 2018). "Steve Forbert to play The Spot on Kirk on Friday". Roanoke Times. Archived from the original on November 14, 2018. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  29. ^ "STEVE FORBERT SETS RELEASE OF MEMOIR "BIG CITY CAT: MY LIFE IN FOLK ROCK" + NEW ALBUM "THE MAGIC TREE", BOTH ON 9/14". Musicnewsnet.com. Retrieved February 21, 2019.
  30. ^ a b "Steve Forbert". Billboard.com.

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