In The Style of Rich Robinson

By Miguel Ángel Ariza

In the midst of the grunge explosion in the early 90s, there was a band that focused its style, its sound and its compositions on returning to the roots of the then forgotten American Rock and Roll of the 70s, the one that had given way to heavy metal first and later the more than questionable style full of hair full of lacquer and albums that were devoid of talent. Yes, it is true that at that time Guns N’ Roses were also reigning in the sales lists, but Mr. Rich Robinson and his Black Crowes were even more classic, the 70s had returned and with them the influence of the Stones, Zeppelins, ‘Soul people’ and Southerners that we could taste on their records.      

All those influences were reflected in the sound of Rich Robinson who had only played the guitar for five years when he recorded his first album. At that time he supported his sound on a pair of Marshall Silver Jubilee and one of the first vintage amplifiers he could get: a Fender Showman Blackface. And by then we could see him on stage with some of his most legendary guitars, among them, his Gibson Les Paul Gold Top, currently with a rather pronounced relic, a 70's Custom  Fender Telecaster with a humbucker on the neck and his 1968 Fender Telecaster also with that configuration. This trio of guitars has been accompanying him on stage since the beginning of the 90s. Of course, it does not have much merit to be part of the arsenal that travels with him on the road since he carries with him more than thirty guitars (although we must also remember he leaves at home another thirty or so according to his own words).

He does not consider himself a collector but rather, like so many poor people crazy about guitars - among whom are many of us – he is a true seeker of the perfect tone for each song he plays. Being so meticulous with his own tone and having accumulated equipment during almost thirty years in search of his goal must have undoubtedly aggravated the grief that he felt when he learned that Hurricane Sandy had carried away most of his collection of guitars, including his most coveted pieces; nothing more nor less than some 60 guitars with greater or lesser degrees of deterioration due to the floods caused by the hurricane, and all of his amplifiers. A minor tragedy compared to any human damage that affected the population but I guess that there is not a single guitarist in the world who does not recognize the suffering when reading about something like that.      

Incredibly he is not the first guitarist who - staying with the positive side of life - says that something good comes from the bad, and in his case he says that his Goldtop now sounds better than before the flood ... although he himself confirms that this is not the case of many of his other guitars like his prized Gibson Es 335.

But hey, do not be afraid for the equipment that you are going to see in his concerts today because he has plenty of good guitars to draw on. We might emphasize his Grestch, White and Black Falcon, his Gibson SG 62 Reissue (all of them re-reliced as is his preference) or his collection of Zemaitis and James Trussarts. We can also see him using several models of guitars by particular luthiers and even several boutique amplifiers that accompany his Vox AC30 or his Headstrong.

A real luxury of equipment for a guy that from the first chord of Twice As Hard, the first song of the album Shake Your Money Maker already warned us that the eighties effects, the ultra-saturated distortions, the echos and the fireworks in general had its days counted in Rock and Roll, at least the authentic old Rock and Roll that he liked and that, thanks to him, returned like a real black crow to fly over the highest positions in the sales charts in the last decade of the twentieth century.

Find you own way to the tone of Rich Robinson