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The Black Crowes soar again with “Happiness Bastards,” the group’s first album in 15 years

With the release of “Happiness Bastards,” The Black Crowes’ first album in over a decade, brothers Chris and Rich Robinson are stirring the souls of rock enthusiasts once more.

The album, featuring the lead single “Wanting and Waiting” embodies the rock and roll spirit the Robinson brothers have been known for since their early days in Atlanta. 

Rich Robinson said the pandemic served as a catalyst for his songwriting. 

“I started writing during the pandemic just for my sanity, you know, just to … because that’s what I do,” he said.

As he shared his new melodies with Chris, the foundation for “Happiness Bastards” took shape. 

“We knew that we wanted to make like a rock and roll record, a Saturday Night record, up tempo, big riffs. We’re very visceral. It has to feel a certain way for us,” said Chris Robinson. 

Growing up in Atlanta, the Robinson brothers found their musical calling one Christmas morning when they unwrapped instruments. There was a guitar for Rich, a bass for Chris, drums for their cousin and a shared amp. The gifts set the stage for their unique blend of rock that would later define the Black Crowes.

 “Of course, we could make, get in the basement and just start making a noise,” said Chris Robinson. 

In 1990, the music world was introduced to the Black Crowes with their debut album, “Shake Your Money Maker.” 

Rich was just 19, while Chris was 22. They were unaware of the success that was to come. That album climbed to number four on the musical charts. Their next project, “The Southern Harmony & Musical Companion,” hit the No. 1 spot. 

However, this period of professional triumph was also marked by personal turmoil as both brothers fought bitterly and relentlessly—fighting on stage, during gigs, backstage and during road trips. When they officially broke up in 2015, they hadn’t been speaking for years. 

“I think it’s just the typical sort of brother thing,” said Rich Robinson. “(Chris) can be aggressive. And I can be really passive-aggressive. You know what I mean? I mean, we both have our ways of going about this. And so fights were us trying to figure out, or at least me trying to figure out like who I was.”

Chris Robinson said other factors contributed to the group’s split.

 “And while Rich is like that, I’m completely out of my mind,”Chris Robinson said. “You know what I mean? I mean I’m out of my mind and then you add drugs and alcohol into the whole thing and I’m really cookin’ with gas at this point,” he said.

During an interview in 2020, Chris Robinson said his ego had gotten in the way of the group.

 “My ego, right or wrong or whatever, I was kinda, ‘I don’t need him. I can go sing these songs without him.’ And see if I can, ya know what’ll happen.”

That acknowledgment paved the way for a heartfelt reunion. 

In 2020, “CBS Mornings” spoke to the brothers after they had just reunited. The two toured to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their debut album, and the tour eventually led to the creation of “Happiness Bastards.” Chris’s wife, Camille, was the creative force behind the artwork for the album. 

As the Black Crowes embark on this new chapter, they do so with a renewed sense of unity and purpose. 

“We made a concerted effort to make it about sort of, this comes first and like the two of us need to talk. And we can’t talk through people,” said Rich Robinson. 

Chris Robinson said the two are more harmonious than ever, even off stage.

“And for the first time in both of our lives, I think we’re on the same page, not only about the art but about the experience and how special it’s been,” he said. “Just gives us a better place to deal with each other, to love each other. And I think we can celebrate that, and we couldn’t before.”

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