The Black Crowes’ Rich Robinson: ‘Toxic’ Lineup Situation Led to Band Starting Anew
By now, fans of The Black Crowes likely know that the group's reunion lineup for the 30th anniversary of Shake Your Money Maker features all new members. That is, apart from singer Chris Robinson and his guitarist brother, Rich Robinson. But listeners might not be aware of the real reason behind the overhaul.
Late last year, Chris imparted some insight into why the band of brothers started anew. The vocalist told Rolling Stone it was "the first thing [he and Rich] agreed on" when it came to getting back together to celebrate the outfit's 1990 debut. Now, Rich is delving deeper into the "toxic" situation that led to the rebirth.
In a new interview, The Black Crowes guitarist flips the script on what casual observers could have gleaned from the siblings' partnership. While some might assume the brothers' rapport with each other eventually broke down on its own, the musician points to forces within the band that conspired to keep their communication nil.
"In the Black Crowes, it became this incredibly toxic, dysfunctional scenario," Chris explained to USA Today this week (Feb. 24.) "And it's easy just to blame Chris or blame me, or Chris and I. But there were a lot of people in that band working very actively to keep Chris and I from communicating and getting along. Because they couldn't get their way if Chris and I talked and got along."
He continued, "That's one of the problems with success. People have their own agenda. The way it's always been, the core of this band is me and Chris. We wrote the songs. It was our band when we started in 1985. It was our band when we stopped in 2013."
That's why, beginning with the act's comeback shows in November 2019, The Black Crowes no longer included longtime drummer Steve Gorman or mid-period members such as bassist Sven Pipien and keyboardist Adam MacDougall. Instead, a fresh lineup emerged sporting drummer Raj Ojha, bassist Tim Lefebvre, keyboardist Joel Robinow and guitarist Isiah Mitchell alongside a returning Robinson brothers.
The new lineup will take the stage when The Black Crowes set out on an extensive U.S. tour that kicks off in New Orleans on April 30 and wraps up at Los Angeles' The Forum Sept. 19. Before that, Chris and Rich will perform a group of acoustic shows together on the intimate "Brothers of a Feather" tour.
"It just has to be new," Rich added of the retooled situation between he and his brother. "It has to stay positive. We want to stay in each other's lives, and we both would love to make music again in the future."
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