Christopher Mark Robinson, now better known as Chris Robinson, was born to an Atlanta musician on December 20, 1966 in Atlanta, Georgia. Along with his brother Rich, he was exposed to a variety of musical genres throughout his youth, eventually discovering a love for most kinds of rock. Absorbing tremendous amounts of everything from Big Star to Led Zeppelin, he eventually teamed with Rich to start a band in the early 80's. Going under the name Mr. Crowe's Garden, the group started in 1984 and performed a jangly kind of college rock that wasn't getting them noticed.
A terribly unstable lineup haunted the group for several years, but when representatives from American Records spotted the group performing in a club, they were enamored with Robinson's onstage presence and soulful voice. Signing the band in 1989, a hilarious debate over a name change (label owner Rick Rubin wanted to re-christen the group "the Kobb Kounty Krows") eventually led to the simplified Black Crowes moniker.
Working with producer George Drakoulias, the band learned to shape their sound into a blues-based assault that brought to mind the loose, shambling glory of Exile on Main Street-era Stones. Debuting in 1990, the band's disc Shake Your Money Maker was an enormous success and led to several hit singles. Launched into the mainstream, the band immediately took issue with several of the bands it toured with over corporate sponsorship and became political spokespeople as well as a solid live unit.
Their constant touring also helped the band as their albums began to lose steam commercially. But fans were impressed by their shows and they drew bigger and bigger crowds as they kept the Crowes on the road for almost all the time between their debut and 2001. In that time they had toured with Jimmy Page and helped usher in the new generation of touring-based rock acts that included other live attractions like Phish and Widespread Panic. But burnout and a career filled with internal struggles put the band on hold, and Robinson started working on more intimate material to combat boredom.
By 2002, he had hooked up with producer/guitarist Paul Stacey and was hammering out his solo debut in the studio. Titled New Earth Mud, the album was a step towards a poppier side of Robinson that was often overshadowed by the technical prowess of his bandmates. Freed from the constraints of the band, Robinson still remained relatively close to the Southern rock sound he was known for. This Magnificent Distance followed in 2004.