For nearly a decade, siblings Chris and Rich Robinson of The Black Crowes were estranged, brothers broken by acrimony and resentment.
Not anymore. The Atlanta natives reconciled a few years ago and are now on good terms. The band has been touring since 2019 with the pandemic creating an unexpected break.
“We didn’t want this to be just some sort of money grab,” said Rich Robinson in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We want this to be for us as brothers. This is for our relationship as writing partners and business partners and brothers.”
The current tour is a reflection of those positive vibes. The set list features the their career-launching 1990 album “Shake Your Money Maker” from beginning to end and cuts from their latest EP “1972” covering great songs from that era.
The only ugliness is happening behind the scenes. Former original drummer Steve Gorman recently sued the band, saying they are denying him proper royalty payments from an agreement signed decades ago. While Robinson couldn’t talk about the lawsuit, he did expound upon getting rid of band members who were not conducive to band unity.
“In the past,” he said, “there was a lot of negative influences and people in the band were pushing their own agendas. They saw a way for more influence by separating me and Chris and manipulating the situation. We didn’t want to do that anymore. We wanted to do this tour the right way, the mature way where we can be accountable to ourselves as brothers, as family. We had to start over and make it work. And it’s working. We are getting along better than we’ve ever gotten along.”
It has also been helpful to their music writing as they prep to go into the studio later this year for a possible release of new music in 2023. In the meantime, the brothers, who both now live in Los Angeles, recorded the “1972” EP that came out last month.
The Black Crowes, based on their sound, always sounded like they were born 20 years too late. So picking songs from that time frame worked well for them.
“That was before corporate greed took over rock,” Robinson said. “Look at the vastness and variety of bands and singers of that time. Joni Mitchell. Neil Young. Led Zeppelin. We picked some that were in our wheelhouse like ‘Rocks Off’ and ‘You Wear It Well.’ Others we thought we could bring something new to the table like ‘Moonage Daydream’ or ‘Papa Was a Rolling Stone.’”
They have played a few of those covers on the spring/summer tour so far.
The opener for the tour is Drivin N Cryin led by Kevn Kinney, longtime friends of the Black Crowes. Surprisingly, this is the first time they’ve toured together since the Black Crowes became a thing. (Former Drivin N Cryin drummer Jeff Sullivan started with the Black Crowes predecessor Mr. Crowe’s Garden.)
“We played with them when we were kids, 15, 16,” Robinson said. “I remember opening for them in Atlanta. They were three, four years older. We didn’t get signed to a label until I was 19…. It’s been great to hang out and talk to them now. Kevn sounds as good as ever.”
Although it has been decades since either Robinson has lived in Atlanta, they do visit when they can. They had a couple of free days recently and stopped in the city to see friends and family. “We stepped off the bus the other night, that air hits you,” Rich said. “It’s Atlanta. It feels like home. This is home.”