Robinson was born in Marietta, Georgia, just outside Atlanta. He is the son of Nancy Jane (née Bradley) and Stanley "Stan" Robinson, who had a minor Billboard charted record in 1959 called "Boom-A-Dip-Dip" and who died in September 2013. Along with his brother Rich, Robinson formed Mr. Crowe's Garden in the 1980s, having been heavily influenced by The Faces and The Rolling Stones. They played a variety of clubs in and around Atlanta.
Robinson attended Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. While some fellow students had posters of bikini girls lying on Porsches, Robinson decorated his dorm room with a Tom Waits poster and a Dream Syndicate poster: "...even at 18, I was into music."
In 1989, Mr. Crowe's Garden changed their name to The Black Crowes. They were signed to Rick Rubin's label Def American and released their debut album Shake Your Money Maker. With the success of their album they went out on tour to support it. They played several dates supporting ZZ Top. During this tour Chris was criticized for talking to the audience about his opposition to corporate sponsorship. This led to ZZ Top firing The Black Crowes from the tour.
In May 1991, Chris Robinson spat at or on a female customer at a 7-Eleven convenience store. Robinson was arrested for assault and disturbing the peace, and pleaded no contest six months later. In the media, Robinson would openly discuss his use of marijuana.
Over the next nine years The Black Crowes went through many lineup changes and released six studio albums. In 1997, The Black Crowes headlined the second Furthur Festival, which had been spawned in the summer of 1996 by the remaining members of the Grateful Dead following Jerry Garcia's death in August 1995. In early 2002, it was announced that drummer Steve Gorman would be leaving the band and that The Black Crowes would be taking a break.
His first solo recording, "The Red Road", appeared on the soundtrack to the 2002 Goldie Hawn (whose daughter, Kate Hudson, was Robinson's spouse from 2000-2006) film The Banger Sisters, confirming the singer's turn into softer material. A full-length debut, New Earth Mud, appeared in October and garnered positive critical reviews. Written and produced with Paul Stacey and featuring collaborations with ex-Crowes Marc Ford and Eddie Harsch, the album allowed Robinson to hit the road as a headlining act. The band itself became known as New Earth Mud and earned a reputation for playing lengthy, jam-oriented sets across the United States.
New Earth Mud toured well into 2003, both headlining and sharing the bill with such acts as Elvis Costello, Gov't Mule and The String Cheese Incident. Robinson headed into the studio after the tour concluded, again with Paul Stacey as co-songwriter and producer. The end result was This Magnificent Distance, released in June 2004. The album was a bigger commercial success than its predecessor and showcased more of a "full band" sound.
Robinson parted ways with Paul Stacey and the rest of his band in early 2004, the reason for which remains unknown. In a very cryptic post on his official message board, Robinson said farewell to his original line-up and welcomed a new one, which featured ex-Crowes member Audley Freed on guitar and studio virtuoso George Reiff on bass. The band toured in support of This Magnificent Distance through the Summer of 2004. Another tour was planned for the fall of 2004 but was abruptly and inexplicably scrapped. Robinson instead remained out of the public eye aside from three appearances with Phil Lesh and Friends at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco (December 2004).
Robinson did not perform publicly again until his February 2005 performance with his brother Rich at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (a private event for people who work in the field of consumer electronics). He then joined Phil Lesh again for the Mardi Gras Spectacular concerts in San Francisco at the end of February, which also featured members of Railroad Earth, Particle and Galactic as well as former members of the Jerry Garcia Band.New Earth Mud band members
Chris Robinson – vocals, guitar, harmonica (2002–04)
Paul Stacey – lead guitar, piano, vocals (2002–04)
Jeremy Stacey – drums, percussion (2002–04)
George Reiff – bass, vocals (2002–04)
George Laks – keyboards, (2002–04)
Audley Freed – lead guitar (2004)
Steve DiStanislao – drums, percussion, vocals (2004)
Rob Barraco – keyboards, vocals (2004)
In early 2005, it was announced that The Black Crowes would be reuniting for a run at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom. This lineup included former members Sven Pipien and Marc Ford. This quickly turned into a full-fledged tour. Although initially not part of the reunion, Steve Gorman did return to the band in early May. In July 2007, during the Black Crowes Summer Tour, the live album Brothers of a Feather: Live at the Roxy was released.
The album was composed of tracks culled from Chris and Rich Robinson's three night set at the Roxy, and featured Black Crowes songs (Horsehead, Cursed Diamond, Thorn In My Pride), solo material from both brothers (Someday Past the Sunset, Forgiven Song), covers from some of their favorite artists (Over the Hill, Roll Um Easy, Driving Wheel, Forever Young), and new material (Magic Rooster Blues, Cold Boy Smile). A new album, Warpaint, was released on March 4, 2008.
On August 31, 2009, the Black Crowes released another album of original material, recorded in front of a live audience over several shows at Levon Helm's barn in New York, Before the Frost... Each CD purchase was accompanied by a download code to receive the album's companion release, ...Until the Freeze. The vinyl version includes all 20 tracks.
In April 2010, it was announced that in celebration of the band's 20th anniversary, they would release Croweology, featuring new acoustic recordings of Black Crowes' favorites. The two-disc set would be sold at the price of one as a thank you to fans. In conjunction with the release, the band would also embark on the "Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys" tour, which would stretch from August 2010 – December 2010. The majority of the shows saw the band perform two 90 minute sets, the first acoustic, and the second electric. At the end of the tour, it was announced the band would begin a new hiatus of undetermined length.
In the fall of 2010, www.chrisrobinsonband.com appeared, fueling speculation that this would be Chris' new project with the advent of the Crowes' hiatus. This was confirmed at the final date of the Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys Tour in San Francisco, when stickers advertising the band and the website were passed out promoting April 2011. Eventually, the project was titled the Chris Robinson Brotherhood (CRB), and a two months California tour was launched on March 29, 2011 at Soho in Santa Barbara, California. The Chris Robinson Brotherhood lineup includes Adam MacDougall (of the Black Crowes) on keyboards, George Sluppick on drums (George has been replaced by Tony Leone), Mark "Muddy" Dutton (of Burning Tree) on bass, and Neal Casal on guitar. Casal replaced Jonathan Wilson, who was initially announced as a member of the band, but left shortly after.
CRB went into Sunset Studios to record an album in January 2012. Their first album, Big Moon Ritual, was released on June 5, 2012, with the companion album The Magic Door released on September 11, 2012. CRB also released a 7" of "Blue Suede Shoes" b/w a live version "Girl, I Love You" for Record Store Day on April 21, 2012.
Although he dabbled in the field earlier, Robinson began consistently producing other artists' albums in the late-2000s. Although few of the albums produced under his guidance were commercial successes, most received considerable critical acclaim.Crossing Bridges by The Kinsey Report (Capitol, 1993)
Very Crystal Speed Machine by Thee Hypnotics (Def American, 1994)
Vagabonds by Gary Louris (Rykodisc, 2008)
Acoustic Vagabonds by Gary Louris (Rykodisc, 2008)
Ready for the Flood by Mark Olson & Gary Louris (Rykodisc, 2009)
Truth & Salvage Co. by Truth & Salvage Co. (Silver Arrow, 2010)
Robinson made a cameo appearance (playing an angel) in the final episode of the popular sketch show The Kids in the Hall in 1994. According to The Kids in the Hall Season 5 DVD commentary, Robinson met Kate Hudson at a live The Kids in the Hall performance during their 2000 reunion tour. In 2007, Chris Robinson played Wavy Gravy's birthday party in San Francisco under the name Chris Robinson's Wooden Family. The show was a benefit to support an international development organization called the Seva Foundation founded by Wavy along with Ram Dass.
In 2009, Robinson performed in The People Speak, a documentary feature film that uses dramatic and musical performances of the letters, diaries, and speeches of everyday Americans, based on historian Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States.
On September 8, 1996, he married actress Lala Sloatman, niece of musician Frank Zappa. They were divorced in 1998.
In December 2000, Robinson married actress Kate Hudson. Their son, Ryder Russell Robinson, was born on January 7, 2004. On August 14, 2006, after nearly six years of marriage, Hudson's publicist announced their separation. On November 17, 2006, Robinson filed divorce papers, citing irreconcilable differences and seeking joint custody of their son. Divorce was granted on October 22, 2007, with Robinson being granted joint custody of Ryder.
In 2009, Robinson married Allison Bridges. Their daughter, Cheyenne Genevieve Robinson, was born on December 26, 2009.New Earth Mud (Redline Records, 2002)
Bootleg (Promotional Release, 2003)
This Magnificent Distance (Vector Recordings, 2004)
Live at Bonnaroo (Live Bonnaroo Records, 2004)
Brothers of a Feather: Live at the Roxy (Eagle Records, 2007)