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Black Crowes drummer and cofounder Steve Gorman shares the band's inside story in this behind-the-scenes biography, from their supernova stardom in the '90s to exhilarating encounters with industry legends. For more than two decades, the Black Crowes topped the charts and reigned supreme over the radio waves, even as hair bands, grunge, and hip-hop threatened to dethrone th Black Crowes drummer and cofounder Steve Gorman shares the band's inside story in this behind-the-scenes biography, from their supernova stardom in the '90s to exhilarating encounters with industry legends. For more than two decades, the Black Crowes topped the charts and reigned supreme over the radio waves, even as hair bands, grunge, and hip-hop threatened to dethrone them. With hits like "Hard to Handle," "She Talks to Angels," and "Remedy," their massive success launched them to stardom in the early '90s, earning them a place among rock royalty. They were on the cover of Rolling Stone, MTV played their videos 24/7, and Generation X rediscovered the power of classic rock and blues by digging into multi-platinum classics like Shake Your Money Maker and The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion. But stardom can be fleeting. For the Black Crowes, success slowly dwindled as the band members got caught up in the rock star world and lost sight of their musical ambition. Despite the drinking, drugs, and incessant fighting between Chris and Rich Robinson -- the angriest brothers in rock and roll, with all due respect to Oasis and the Kinks -- the band continued to tour until 2013. On any given night, they could be the best band you ever saw (or the most combative). Then, one last rift caused by Chris Robinson proved insurmountable for the band to survive. After that, the Black Crowes would fly no more. Founding member Steve Gorman was there for all of it -- the coke- and weed-fueled tours; the tumultuous recording sessions; the backstage hangs with legends like Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and the Rolling Stones. As the band's drummer and voice of reason, he tried to keep the Black Crowes together musically and emotionally. In Hard To Handle -- the first account of this great American rock band's beginning, middle, and end -- Gorman explains just how impossible that job was with great insight, candor, and humor. They don't make bands like the Black Crowes anymore: crazy, brilliant, self-destructive, inspiring, and, ultimately, not built to last. But, man, what a ride it was while it lasted.


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Black Crowes drummer and cofounder Steve Gorman shares the band's inside story in this behind-the-scenes biography, from their supernova stardom in the '90s to exhilarating encounters with industry legends. For more than two decades, the Black Crowes topped the charts and reigned supreme over the radio waves, even as hair bands, grunge, and hip-hop threatened to dethrone th Black Crowes drummer and cofounder Steve Gorman shares the band's inside story in this behind-the-scenes biography, from their supernova stardom in the '90s to exhilarating encounters with industry legends. For more than two decades, the Black Crowes topped the charts and reigned supreme over the radio waves, even as hair bands, grunge, and hip-hop threatened to dethrone them. With hits like "Hard to Handle," "She Talks to Angels," and "Remedy," their massive success launched them to stardom in the early '90s, earning them a place among rock royalty. They were on the cover of Rolling Stone, MTV played their videos 24/7, and Generation X rediscovered the power of classic rock and blues by digging into multi-platinum classics like Shake Your Money Maker and The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion. But stardom can be fleeting. For the Black Crowes, success slowly dwindled as the band members got caught up in the rock star world and lost sight of their musical ambition. Despite the drinking, drugs, and incessant fighting between Chris and Rich Robinson -- the angriest brothers in rock and roll, with all due respect to Oasis and the Kinks -- the band continued to tour until 2013. On any given night, they could be the best band you ever saw (or the most combative). Then, one last rift caused by Chris Robinson proved insurmountable for the band to survive. After that, the Black Crowes would fly no more. Founding member Steve Gorman was there for all of it -- the coke- and weed-fueled tours; the tumultuous recording sessions; the backstage hangs with legends like Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and the Rolling Stones. As the band's drummer and voice of reason, he tried to keep the Black Crowes together musically and emotionally. In Hard To Handle -- the first account of this great American rock band's beginning, middle, and end -- Gorman explains just how impossible that job was with great insight, candor, and humor. They don't make bands like the Black Crowes anymore: crazy, brilliant, self-destructive, inspiring, and, ultimately, not built to last. But, man, what a ride it was while it lasted.

30 review for Hard to Handle: The Life and Death of the Black Crowes--A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Assigned- Overall, a familiar rock and roll story, but still an interesting peek into a fantastic group, with a wide musical range and talent. 4 stars.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    "Can I have some remedy? Remedy for me, please. Cuz if I had a remedy, I'd take enough to please me!" -- lyrics by Chris & Rich Robinson; I can recall when the accompanying 'Remedy' music video featuring the group was in heavy rotation on MTV during the summer of 1992 Yeah, they may have 'reunited' in late 2019 (that is, the two oft-feuding Robinson brothers now have an entirely new band backing them), but for fans of late 20th century rock & roll the definitive line-up of the Black Crowes was the "Can I have some remedy? Remedy for me, please. Cuz if I had a remedy, I'd take enough to please me!" -- lyrics by Chris & Rich Robinson; I can recall when the accompanying 'Remedy' music video featuring the group was in heavy rotation on MTV during the summer of 1992 Yeah, they may have 'reunited' in late 2019 (that is, the two oft-feuding Robinson brothers now have an entirely new band backing them), but for fans of late 20th century rock & roll the definitive line-up of the Black Crowes was the 1990-2000 incarnation. What a glorious mess it was, and now it is detailed for casual and die-hard fans alike with a front row seat courtesy of drummer Steve Gorman. With a keen memory and a solid workman-like prose, Gorman explains the origin of the rock quintet (soon to be a sextet, with the addition of a keyboardist/organist) circa 1989 in Atlanta. Things then quickly escalated - hit albums in '90 (Shake Your Money Maker) and '92 (The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion), with the accompanying successful tours - and then, just as rapidly, begin to fall apart due to infighting, drug / alcohol abuse, egos, and other issues such as the arrival the 'grunge'-styled groups in popular culture. There was a brief upswing of sorts when the boys allied with guitar virtuoso Jimmy Page - basically morphing into the best Led Zeppelin cover band EVER - for a live album and brief tour in 1999, but by the start of the 21st century they derailed and went on a hiatus. There have been some reunions or regroupings, but things were never again like their first decade. I can remember when (as with Aerosmith in the 70's, then Guns N' Roses in the 80's) the Crowes were tagged as the Americanized version of the Rolling Stones. They really had the attitude, for sure. Unfortunately, they never reached the same career longevity, but with durably kick-ass songs like 'Hard to Handle,' 'Twice as Hard,' and 'Wiser Time' at least we can always have the music, right?

  3. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Wodzianski

    This is challenging review. I am biased. If the reader is a Black Crowes fan, the rating should be a four. If the reader is a Rock biography fan, the rating should be a three. If the reader has never heard The Black Crowes, the rating should be a two. I am a Black Crowes fanatic. I've spent thousands of; hours, miles, & dollars listening to, traveling to, and seeing this band perform since 1992's 'High as the Moon' tour. Steve Gorman is one of my favorite drummers. I have a framed assortment of curi This is challenging review. I am biased. If the reader is a Black Crowes fan, the rating should be a four. If the reader is a Rock biography fan, the rating should be a three. If the reader has never heard The Black Crowes, the rating should be a two. I am a Black Crowes fanatic. I've spent thousands of; hours, miles, & dollars listening to, traveling to, and seeing this band perform since 1992's 'High as the Moon' tour. Steve Gorman is one of my favorite drummers. I have a framed assortment of curios from him that constantly remind me; drumsticks, set lists, and signed swag. I have two copies of the book. In hardcover, and from Audible. I prefer the audio recording, as Steve is narrating. His memoir. His voice. His career as a radio host lends itself well to the diction and pacing. And on the multiple occasions when he's frustrated, it sounds very authentic. After the first pass, the volume seems like a thorough account of the band from one member's perspective. But with reflection, it boils itself down into countless episodes of disdain for the Robinson brothers. I feel there's a lot of merit to Gorman's consternation, but it's just too slanderous and monotonous after a while. It could be argued that a career with the Crowes was exactly that, but I really wish it was balanced out with a bit more. More gear talk, more venue talk, and more family-balance talk would have been appreciated. Steve briefly mentions the birth of his son and his wife's involvement. That's cool, but it's weird there's no introduction of his wife beforehand. There's a passage detailing the wedding of Chris and Kate, but not Steve and Merdith (?). Perhaps the most frustrating; there is an epic retelling of a discussion Steve has with a Rock Guitar legend. The aftermath has Steve boiling over with rage. On audio, it's something to behold. But then? Nothing. No follow through. No mention of how, or if, the contentious incident was resolved with the offending party. That's not cool. Also, Steve could have been better served had he dropped the f-bomb a little less (and I swear like the best of them). This book has lingering ramifications. I'm torn. I love the music the band made, and I love that Steve had the opportunity to collect and publish his memories. But his accounts make me question my enjoyment of the band. It's all a bit raw for me. I've spent a good portion of my life with this outfit, and to learn from a salacious tell-all autobiography about the entire operation's dysfunction? It's upsetting. To distance myself from the players and personalities, and only dig the music? It is not as easy as it sounds.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    I inhaled this book like Chris Robinson with a bag of weed. It was written by the funniest Crowe. There was more highlighted text than white space when I was done. It was at its strongest when it didn't sound like a therapy session or when every chapter ended with a Behind the Music line like, 'There was a glimmer of hope, but little did we know, everything was about to go to hell.' It painted a tough picture of Chris and Rich. Everyone who's spent time in and around bands has met people like th I inhaled this book like Chris Robinson with a bag of weed. It was written by the funniest Crowe. There was more highlighted text than white space when I was done. It was at its strongest when it didn't sound like a therapy session or when every chapter ended with a Behind the Music line like, 'There was a glimmer of hope, but little did we know, everything was about to go to hell.' It painted a tough picture of Chris and Rich. Everyone who's spent time in and around bands has met people like that. If you haven't, Steve definitely gets across how infuriating self-sabotage can be in a project. There could have been less space dedicated to this, or it could have been tempered a bit with credit to what the brothers created -- beyond acknowledging that they could play really well a lot of the time and had those priceless moments of musical connection. The Jimmy Page fanboy parts were some of my favorites. Steve definitely understood what it all meant, and that was still the best concert I've ever seen. I'm also glad he mentioned the Beacon shows in NYC right after 9/11 and that they were special to him, too. If you want to know more about the songs, this isn't the book. Maybe that book will never exist. If it does, it's going to need a great editor. But if you want one account of what life was like in this band, hoo boy, get ready.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Twerking To Beethoven

    Fun book. Steve seems to be a decent bloke, and I actually enjoyed the style, it's basically like this "So this is what happened that one time we were recording XYZ." According to Gorman, the Robinson brothers were a bit dysfunctional from the very beginning, and the problems increased with the increasing fame (go figure), which turned them into utter twats with massive egos that lead to the demise of a very lucrative deal with Jimmy Page and, eventually, to the end of the band itself(*). Also, Fun book. Steve seems to be a decent bloke, and I actually enjoyed the style, it's basically like this "So this is what happened that one time we were recording XYZ." According to Gorman, the Robinson brothers were a bit dysfunctional from the very beginning, and the problems increased with the increasing fame (go figure), which turned them into utter twats with massive egos that lead to the demise of a very lucrative deal with Jimmy Page and, eventually, to the end of the band itself(*). Also, the consumption of alcohol and all sorts of...er...chemicals didn't make things any easier, HA! Of course, as you'd expect, the turmoil surrounding the Black Crowes is what makes "Hard to Handle" really interesting. Needs to be said I'm not a die-hard fan of the band. I liked the first two records, all right, but wasn't particularly crazy about "Amorica" and "Three Snakes and One Charm". And I have honestly no clue what the following albums sound like. Four stars. (*) - The Black Crowes will be touring again in 2020, the only surviving members of the band being the Robinson brothers.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jason Evans

    This is for Black Crowes fans only, really. I don't think this a book like Keith Richards' autobiography, which, even if you weren't a fan of Keith, the read would still be pretty amazing. This book is not some amazing story. However, if you are a Black Crowes fan and wondered what was going on in that bubble, this book is for you. I've been a fan of the BC since their first album and saw most of their tours. It was always tough to get factual information about what was going on. Fans just knew This is for Black Crowes fans only, really. I don't think this a book like Keith Richards' autobiography, which, even if you weren't a fan of Keith, the read would still be pretty amazing. This book is not some amazing story. However, if you are a Black Crowes fan and wondered what was going on in that bubble, this book is for you. I've been a fan of the BC since their first album and saw most of their tours. It was always tough to get factual information about what was going on. Fans just knew there were constantly new faces and we sort of knew the brothers were always fighting. This book will clear it all up and give closure to all BC fans. Just wait until you hear about Rich's dealings with Jimmy Page. Made my jaw drop. Besides closure there are some great rock'n'roll stories like meeting Keith Richards, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. I highly suggest this book for all of those who wanted to be Tall with the Crowes.

  7. 5 out of 5

    David B.

    I really enjoyed this book. Steve Gorman takes you behind the scenes of a great Rock n' Roll band. The Highs and the Lows. I liked that when you read it, it feels like he's having a conversation with you. He doesn't pull any punches. Tells it like he saw it. It's too bad that all the infighting between the brothers (Chris and Rich Robinson), alcohol, drugs and basically the Rock n' Roll lifestyle destroyed the band. I believe that with their talent they could have been the next Rolling Stones. T I really enjoyed this book. Steve Gorman takes you behind the scenes of a great Rock n' Roll band. The Highs and the Lows. I liked that when you read it, it feels like he's having a conversation with you. He doesn't pull any punches. Tells it like he saw it. It's too bad that all the infighting between the brothers (Chris and Rich Robinson), alcohol, drugs and basically the Rock n' Roll lifestyle destroyed the band. I believe that with their talent they could have been the next Rolling Stones. The first 3 albums are Awesome. The wheels come off with 3 Snakes and One Charm. They get back to their rocking blues ways on By Your Side but by then they weren't relevant anymore. They were able to continue on being a decent band because of their live shows. When Jimmy Page wants to play with you on a year long tour (to play his Led Zeppelin tunes) you must be doing something right. I still Love the Black Crowes. Just wish the original lineup could have stayed together. Highly recommend this book if you were a fan of the Crowes back in the 90's and if you are interested in what goes on behind the scenes of a Highly successful Rock Band.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Laura B

    This is admittedly a biased review, as the black crowes are my all time favorite band. If i had never heard of them, I would probably give this 3.5 stars. I found Gorman to be an effective story teller and I appreciated that he didn't gloss over difficult topics (drug use, greed, etc). He points fingers but also acknowledges his own contributions to the band's dysfunction. Two things really stood out to me. One, I knew the Robinson brothers fought, but I didn't realize how vicious and unrelentin This is admittedly a biased review, as the black crowes are my all time favorite band. If i had never heard of them, I would probably give this 3.5 stars. I found Gorman to be an effective story teller and I appreciated that he didn't gloss over difficult topics (drug use, greed, etc). He points fingers but also acknowledges his own contributions to the band's dysfunction. Two things really stood out to me. One, I knew the Robinson brothers fought, but I didn't realize how vicious and unrelenting it was throughout the years. Two, the missed opportunities of this band to achieve greatness is simply astounding.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Is this the best book I've ever read? No. Is this the best written book I've ever read? Definitely not. Is this the best book about the Black Crowes I've ever read? YES! The Black Crowes have been one of my favorite bands: I have all their CDs & have seen them in concert twice (I don't live in Boston, NYC or LA, where it seems they toured all the time). This book promised to answer the big question of: what happened to such a promising rock band that endured throughout the grunge and hip-hop era, Is this the best book I've ever read? No. Is this the best written book I've ever read? Definitely not. Is this the best book about the Black Crowes I've ever read? YES! The Black Crowes have been one of my favorite bands: I have all their CDs & have seen them in concert twice (I don't live in Boston, NYC or LA, where it seems they toured all the time). This book promised to answer the big question of: what happened to such a promising rock band that endured throughout the grunge and hip-hop era, that put out the first successful album on Rick Rubin's newly-found record label Def America, that toured with such greats as ZZ Top, Aerosmith, Oasis, The Rolling Stones, Robert Plant and....Jimmy Page? Steve Gorman, the steadfast drummer of the group, tells all. He recounts conversations, arguments, recording sessions, events in a propulsive way that makes this book hard to put down. I had always heard rumors that Rich was the difficult brother to get-along with, but Chris has his issues too. One of the only things the Robinson brothers could agree upon though, was to keep all the money they could to themselves. This is a source of frustration that Gorman repeatedly goes back to: that the other members of the band were treated as back-up band members, not as integral components of the band's success, and hence were treated disrespectfully. Gorman also paints a portrait that Chris is out of touch with reality in having deep relationships with people; perhaps ex-wife Kate Hudson would agree. The Black Crowes (aka the Robinson brothers) also had a way of burning bridges with a lot of artists who were willing to help their careers. The Robinsons are so destructive that it's amazing they were able to put out as many albums and tour as much as they did. In reading about their troubles, the better albums are the ones where they were all getting along, and the conflict comes through in the others, like there is a palpable dissonance and tension in them. One review I read recommends this book for Black Crowes fans mainly, and I would agree, as Gorman describes their songs and albums throughout their life together, which may mean little to someone unfamiliar with their music. It did inspire me to revisit some of their albums that I haven't listened to in awhile. Gorman ends with a caveat: this account is from his point of view. The Robinsons may remember things differently. If they decide to tell their side of the story, I look forward to reading their versions too.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jason Roth

    The entire book is clearly an angry vendetta against the Robinson brothers. So much negativity and not enough credit for the product. I'll take his word that they are both narcissistic rock stars that fought constantly and often acted like assholes, but that was already well known from other reports. I was hoping for some details about the brilliant songs and how they were created, but there is none of it considering Gorman didn't really create anything of substance. I think he is a good drummer The entire book is clearly an angry vendetta against the Robinson brothers. So much negativity and not enough credit for the product. I'll take his word that they are both narcissistic rock stars that fought constantly and often acted like assholes, but that was already well known from other reports. I was hoping for some details about the brilliant songs and how they were created, but there is none of it considering Gorman didn't really create anything of substance. I think he is a good drummer, but definitely don't agree that he deserved 1/3 or anything close. Consequently, any of his questioning their decisions for the sake of the brand and/or art should be taken with a grain of salt. It seemed suspicious to me that he bashes the brothers throughout the entire book but basically doesn't have a negative word to say about anyone else throughout his entire career. Why stick around so long, or keep coming back, if everything was so horrible and negative? If he is so creative, talented, and as important to that band as he writes; why didn't he just leave and start his own successful band? I found it strange that Eric Bobo, their other percussionist on Amorica and subsequent tour was never mentioned once. I also found it hard to believe that the last decade of the band, including Eddie's death, only deserved one chapter. Seemed like he was rushing to finish, perhaps he needed the money. What a disappointment. The only reason I gave it two stars is because I learned some interesting things early on in their careers that I didn't know before.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    OK, I'm biased, since I have known the author for many years, and was in a band that toured with the Crowes. But maybe that actually makes my love of this book more surprising. I know how the story ends, and know a lot of the people involved, and still read this thing quickly: I couldn't wait to see what happened next. When I put it down I was most impressed with how well the book balances its glimpses of the salacious rock lifestyle (Uncle Bob! Drugs! Women!) with its detailing the work require OK, I'm biased, since I have known the author for many years, and was in a band that toured with the Crowes. But maybe that actually makes my love of this book more surprising. I know how the story ends, and know a lot of the people involved, and still read this thing quickly: I couldn't wait to see what happened next. When I put it down I was most impressed with how well the book balances its glimpses of the salacious rock lifestyle (Uncle Bob! Drugs! Women!) with its detailing the work required to earn that lifestyle (thing is, making records and staying in a band is actually a good bit of work). And, as is the case in any story worth telling, the heroes are imperfect, and even the devils deserve a little sympathy.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    The Black Crowes have been my favourite band since I first saw them in a small club back in July 1991. I have seen them play more times than I can count, so I was certainly interested in Steve's account of their time together. The rise and demise of the band is told with candor, and it's heartbreaking to see how a brilliant band burnt out into a bitter end. It's so well-written that I felt like I was standing there, watching it unfold. Brutally honest in its telling, Hard to Handle is a must-rea The Black Crowes have been my favourite band since I first saw them in a small club back in July 1991. I have seen them play more times than I can count, so I was certainly interested in Steve's account of their time together. The rise and demise of the band is told with candor, and it's heartbreaking to see how a brilliant band burnt out into a bitter end. It's so well-written that I felt like I was standing there, watching it unfold. Brutally honest in its telling, Hard to Handle is a must-read for not only Crowes fans, but anyone looking for an amazing memoir.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rocco Pallotto

    Casual Black Crowes fan for the most part but this book was fascinating. Incredibly good read. If you are a fan of the Robinsons though, be warned. This book doesnt show them in a positive light. Not even a little.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Erik

    I love the Black Crowes and have seen them numerous times over their career. This story, told from the perspective of the drummer, who comes off as fairly level-headed, was both informative and amusing. I wouldn't put this quite in the category of Rod Stewart and Roger Daltry's memoirs, both of whom have a very "Look at all this cool stuff that happened to me vibe!", only because of the presence of the Robinson brothers, who we all know are dicks, and this memoir does little to dispel that. Stev I love the Black Crowes and have seen them numerous times over their career. This story, told from the perspective of the drummer, who comes off as fairly level-headed, was both informative and amusing. I wouldn't put this quite in the category of Rod Stewart and Roger Daltry's memoirs, both of whom have a very "Look at all this cool stuff that happened to me vibe!", only because of the presence of the Robinson brothers, who we all know are dicks, and this memoir does little to dispel that. Steve had to battle to stay in the band and keep going and for that I'm thankful because I had a lot of good times at those shows. This memoir was great though - it had all the details I wanted to see and then some - I couldn't wait to read it every night. If you're a Crowes fan, you should definitely read this book - if you're a rock memoir fan, I think you'll also enjoy it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jorge

    As an unabashed fan of The Black Crowes, I truly enjoyed drummer Steve Gorman's tales from his ringside seat to one of the most infamous sibling rivalries in rock history. The worst of times and best of times are recounted here with a gregarious voice and a healthy sense of humor. It's actually weirdly inspiring to know that one of my favorite bands of all time was also one of the most dysfunctional. As flawed as we humans can be, we can create lasting and transcendent work in spite of ourselves As an unabashed fan of The Black Crowes, I truly enjoyed drummer Steve Gorman's tales from his ringside seat to one of the most infamous sibling rivalries in rock history. The worst of times and best of times are recounted here with a gregarious voice and a healthy sense of humor. It's actually weirdly inspiring to know that one of my favorite bands of all time was also one of the most dysfunctional. As flawed as we humans can be, we can create lasting and transcendent work in spite of ourselves. There's hope for me, I guess!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Patti

    My favorite band in my whole life (and I’m gettin’ old!) Been waiting for this book for a while. I really appreciate your candor and honesty, Steve. While I will always love the Black Crowes, I could see there was trouble. It was kind of obvious. But it was magic! You have such a way with words Steve. Thanks for taking the time. I loved the ride.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Angus McKeogh

    Obviously my review of this book is to be heavily influenced by my love for the band. Someone else reading this story would likely dock it a couple of stars for writing or purely out of disinterest. Of course, I thought it was stellar. It answered so many questions I’ve always had about these guys. What happened to Marc? How much older was Ed? Did Jimmy Page really hurt his back? Are the Robinson brothers someone I’d love to meet or are they just pricks? What’s it like to have sex with Kate Huds Obviously my review of this book is to be heavily influenced by my love for the band. Someone else reading this story would likely dock it a couple of stars for writing or purely out of disinterest. Of course, I thought it was stellar. It answered so many questions I’ve always had about these guys. What happened to Marc? How much older was Ed? Did Jimmy Page really hurt his back? Are the Robinson brothers someone I’d love to meet or are they just pricks? What’s it like to have sex with Kate Hudson (as answered by Liam Gallagher of Oasis)? What happened to all their unreleased songs? It’s all answered here. Great read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Keith Adams

    As a die hard fan, I loved the book. It may be a biased account of the Bands history, but it written through a Steve’s eyes and through his emotions. It’s clear that he loved the band and clear that he believes it could have been so much more. I agree.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Josher71

    I am not a Black Crowes fan but I love rock books and this is a certified page turner!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Randee

    They gave me joy. I felt their pain. After reading Steve’s book, I understand it all a little better.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Wow. Just.... wow.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Natalie BoydKelly

    As a huge fan, who has ridden this rollercoaster with them for years, I loved hearing Gorman’s account of it all.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jim Nirmaier

    After sitting on my shelf for quite some time as I received this tome as a Way-Cool Birthday present a few months back, I was just able to get around to reading this highly entertaining, and sometimes very frustrating, tale of the life of a Really, Really Good Rock Band that became one of the most gifted and talented “Near Misses” in all of Rock History. Written by the band’s drummer and co-founder Steve Gorman, I know several folks who know Mr. Gorman personally and very closely and, to a perso After sitting on my shelf for quite some time as I received this tome as a Way-Cool Birthday present a few months back, I was just able to get around to reading this highly entertaining, and sometimes very frustrating, tale of the life of a Really, Really Good Rock Band that became one of the most gifted and talented “Near Misses” in all of Rock History. Written by the band’s drummer and co-founder Steve Gorman, I know several folks who know Mr. Gorman personally and very closely and, to a person; they all unanimously agree he is a really nice and decent down-to-earth guy. How he survived all the years in the Viper’s Nest known as The Black Crowes with his decency & sanity seemingly still intact, is no small feat. Mr. Gorman’s reputation as a very nice, genuine guy comes through sincerely and emphatically while consuming his compelling and crazy recounting of the formation and the unfolding 30+ year saga of the Way-Dysfunctional Black Crowes. And I also had the distinct pleasure of meeting him briefly a few years back at the beloved and original location of Grimey’s New & Preloved Music Store in Music City USA, and we had a very nice chat. To reconfirm from my brief visit, he IS a really nice guy and we talked briefly about the infamous one-song “riot” performance in Louisville Gardens years ago. What a night that was! Due to some previous stories from Rock Brothers and Musical Acquaintances, I was actually already familiar with several of the incidents, confrontations/fights, and anecdotes re-counted in the book. Did that diminish my reading enjoyment in any fashion? Not one bit! Mr. Gorman is a fellow Kentuckian and WKU Hilltopper, so I will freely admit some inherent personal partiality on my part. He even frequented the record store that I worked at during my college years in Bowling Green, KY but I don’t remember him, and he is a handful of years younger than I, so we may have just missed a mutual convergence. His musical saga begins in 1987 when he and his friend Clint Steele took a Greyhound bus from his hometown of Hopkinsville, KY to Atlanta, following their dream of playing in a Rock Band! Mr. Gorman’s musical talents were a bit on the primitive side during this period, but he became a decent drummer in a relatively short period of time. Before he knew it, he found himself in a very good bar band in the local Atlanta music scene with a strong following called Mary My Hope. Then the arrival of the Robinson Brothers (Rich & Chris) and primarily Chris; blew into his life as an Ill-Willed Twister filled with neuroses, irritating OCD behavior to the nth degree, as well as other quirks and weirdness. But that Musical Tornadic Force was also spinning with a joyous and idealistic kindred spirit of, and passionate belief in, the transformative power of Rock Music. At the time, the Robinsons were also playing in their own very popular local club band called Mr. Crowe’s Garden. One night, Steve’s band opened for the Robinsons’ band in the early 80’s and everyone then proceeded to a post-show party that was even attended by a couple of guys from Drivin N Cryin (Atlanta’s Musical Top Dogs then). Steve was filled with the Glory of Rock Adrenaline following his very first paid gig, and he and Chris ended up together at the party and Mr. Robinson proceeded to have a full-blown neurotic meltdown. They eventually moved their chat to the vacant lot next door and walked in circles while the wacked-out singer babbled on for a LOOONG time. It was the first of many experiences for Mr. Gorman in dealing with Robinson family self-absorbed Neuroses on Steroids, and it was also his first time to experience the Robinson inability to appreciate the good things and successes in life, coupled with their uncontrollable and self-destructive urge to explode/implode; just as the Good/Great was Peaking/Taking Off. It was unfortunately and certainly not the last such occurrence, and the heading of the second chapter in the book says it all when Steve was told by a compadre, “Do Not Join This Band, They’re Fucking Crazy!” And off we go…… The band’s career really took off with their collision with Rick Rubin and his early, still somewhat fledgling rap-focused label Def Jam - that shortly would re-launch the mighty Johnny Cash’s final third chapter late-career resurgence which arguably produced his BEST music ever. Rubin got ‘em for a song (no pun intended) and the subsequent 1990 debut record “Shake Your Money Maker,” supported by no less than six singles, with the most memorable being the cover of Otis’ “Hard To Handle,” and the originals “She Talks to Angels,” & “Jealous Again,” zoomed the record and the band from absolute obscurity to the hottest New True Classic Rock Band in years. The record went multi-platinum and the “world was at their feet;” as they say. It was not to be as easy as it all sounds; even with a true classic freshman LP, containing two top 30 singles, a charismatic front man to rival Rod the Mod during his peak Faces period, good/great songs, and a tight-ass band that was getting better and better with each forthcoming performance. The second record in 1992 “The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion” debuted at Number 1 on the Billboard 200 but lacked strong hits, as none of the singles cracked the Top 40 and only "Remedy" and "Thorn in My Pride" made the Top 100. Nevertheless, the band established itself as a very popular headlining concert attraction that summer, selling out theaters across America. Also, during this year, the band added keyboardist Eddie Harsch as a permanent member. Their third album, Amorica arrived in late 1994 and debuted in the Top Ten and then took a quick and precipitous nose-dive. As recounted in the book, “All of the pieces to the puzzle that would ensure building on our success worldwide [were in place.] Southern Harmony had sold about half as many copies as Shake Your Money Maker domestically, but it had still sold more copies in the rest of the world. We were poised to take our career to the next level.” Even so, none of the singles from Amorica made a significant dent, and the album slipped from the charts after going gold. The main reason for a poor commercial reception, as it is a very good solid rock record, was Chris Robinson’s insistence in using the cover shot of the July 1976 bicentennial issue of Hustler magazine as the album cover, which showed a close-up of a tanned girl’s red, white, and blue string bikini bottom with profuse pubic hair poking out the sides. Needless to say, there was an indignant and arrogant refusal to budge on the matter by Chris and “Amorica was dead on arrival commercially and Chris Robinson was the one that killed it.” The big retail boxes all refused to carry it (Walmart, Sam’s Club, Best Buy, etc.) and, being that it was still back in 1994 and traditional “brick & mortar” music sales were still HUGE, it was commercial suicide. Their mid-period (1996 – 2001) found the release of solid, if not-so-memorable LPs, Three Snakes and One Charm, By Your Side, and the Don Was produced Lions. This period also saw the proverbial “best of times, and the worst of times.” The magical marriage of Chris to Kate Hudson and the no-expense-spared ceremony and reception funded by Kurt Russell & Goldie Hawn, and the best of all; the soon-to-follow band’s collaboration with the Great and Legendary Jimmy Page. The boys jelled, Chris did a better-than-average approximation of Robert Plant on vocals, and they hit the road to huge critical and commercial success. After several kick-ass had-to-be-there live performances, Pages’ “back acted up” and he left abruptly in the middle of the tour to have “emergency back surgery.” But you guessed it, the Robinsons figured out a way to royally piss him off (this time Rich), so the Rock Legend and member of the Order of the British Empire, hopped on his private jet and basically said, “You assholes can ‘kiss my arse.’ ” However, Mr. Gorman’s personal relationship he had developed with Page during their time together was very touching and probably the most positive result of their collaboration; except for those Magical Musical Moments that happened on stage of course. The book continues to follow the course of the band’s career and the numerous fights, meltdowns, full-blown mental collapses, physical fights, yelling matches, and just overall arrested development/immature childishly selfish behavior that, I have to say; began to somewhat try the patience of this reader. “Hard to Handle” is well-written in a very relaxed style (in spite of the constant tension and conflict recounted in the book itself) and it is one of the better “behind the scenes” bios of the life and death of what should have been a Top Tier GREAT Rock Band, as told from the perspective of the only sane member within the extremely dysfunctional unit. The happy ending to the story is that Mr. Gorman has gone on to host a very successful nationally syndicated sports radio talk show and is currently collaborating with his excellent band “Trigger Hippy.” I was lucky to catch them live in Louisville (pre-Corona) Dec 21, 2019 at the Zanzabar club, when the world was a much different place. Oh, and they Majorly Kicked Ass by the way! Get the book and hang on!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Beth Peterson

    Well. I really enjoyed this book. I never knew much about The Black Crowes. They started mid-eighties, right in the thick of my child raising years. Didn't have much time or money for music, but I would hear "Hard To Handle", "Jealous Again", or "Twice As Hard" on the radio and think - these guys are good! I liked that they had almost a bit of a throwback rock and rollish sound. But I really knew nothing about the band. I picked up this book because I love music and biographies, and thought this m Well. I really enjoyed this book. I never knew much about The Black Crowes. They started mid-eighties, right in the thick of my child raising years. Didn't have much time or money for music, but I would hear "Hard To Handle", "Jealous Again", or "Twice As Hard" on the radio and think - these guys are good! I liked that they had almost a bit of a throwback rock and rollish sound. But I really knew nothing about the band. I picked up this book because I love music and biographies, and thought this might be good. It was. Steve Gorman (and/or Steve Hyden) writes a good story with nice chronology and pacing. I almost felt I was there with him, feeling the excitement of being young and getting into a band and hanging with it until their popularity exploded. Then growing older with the band, learning life lessons, experiencing good and bad times, and meeting some of your idols. What a ride! I liked Gorman's honesty about himself, warts and all, and his take and insight on his fellow band members. It made me think and understand a little more about how and why some things in the entertainment industry work, or don't work, and why some things last, while some things last only a little while. And why that's ok. And maybe the way it should be. Steve Gorman comes off as a likable guy with a good sense of humor and attitude about life. I'd like to have a couple of beers with him and hear some more stories. Glad I read this book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    I've read quite a few band biographies, and in every one, it seems to be a miracle that the bands ever survived & were successful, and this band is no exception. The Black Crowes had a revolving door of members with personality and substance abuse problems, and was controlled by two brothers with their own problems and personality disorders. Like most fans of the band, I was floored with Shake Your Money Maker when it came out, and then slowly lost interest over the next few albums as the band m I've read quite a few band biographies, and in every one, it seems to be a miracle that the bands ever survived & were successful, and this band is no exception. The Black Crowes had a revolving door of members with personality and substance abuse problems, and was controlled by two brothers with their own problems and personality disorders. Like most fans of the band, I was floored with Shake Your Money Maker when it came out, and then slowly lost interest over the next few albums as the band made strange choices and bad business decisions, which almost killed their career at each turn. It's amazing to read -- the Robinson brothers couldn't get out of their own way, and let their personal feelings and fights get in the way of virtually every decision. It's the story of talented musicians, great music, and good fortune ruined by petty disagreements and self-sabotage, every time they had some momentum going. The best example of which is how the tour with Jimmy Page fell apart, which just amounted to one brother not being able to keep his mouth shut and enjoy the golden opportunity. The Robinsons couldn't get along with each other, and couldn't enjoy their success, and it destroyed the band.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kennyg

    I’d say Gorman just introduced himself as the band’s whiniest member. His drumming was the backbone of the Crowes, his writing only shows how toxic he must have been. Basically this book is a long complaint, or a series of hundreds of them, about the Robinson brothers with a few good stories. Seriously, every page. Not the book that Crowes fans have been waiting for. Just a list of complaints he should have got out at therapy.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Folker

    If you never caught a show you missed out.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Robert Ritzinger

    As an outside observer, the story of the Black Crowes always felt like one of “shoulda, coulda, woulda”. It also felt like the story of a band that couldn’t get out of its own way. And it looked like a band that always took itself WAY too seriously. Steve Gorman’s excellent book confirmed all of those assumptions. I was a pretty big fan of the Black Crowes when they first broke out. I have a lot of memories of listening to Shake Your Money Maker and to a lesser extent, Southern Harmony, when I wa As an outside observer, the story of the Black Crowes always felt like one of “shoulda, coulda, woulda”. It also felt like the story of a band that couldn’t get out of its own way. And it looked like a band that always took itself WAY too seriously. Steve Gorman’s excellent book confirmed all of those assumptions. I was a pretty big fan of the Black Crowes when they first broke out. I have a lot of memories of listening to Shake Your Money Maker and to a lesser extent, Southern Harmony, when I was younger. Like a lot of people, I felt starved for a simply great American rock band. It felt like all the great bands I listened to were from another era, mainly the 60s and 70s. The Black Crowes broke out right before grunge really hit, and perhaps that music movement contributed to the Black Crowes' slow demise into irrelevance. To his credit, Gorman doesn’t use other bands’ success as an excuse. He cites with a sharp wit all the ways in which the Black Crowes messed up their own career. And it really was a slow demise. I remember the Black Crowes being all over radio and MTV during their first two albums but then slowly being less and less aware of them with each subsequent album. In fact, after Three Snakes, I couldn’t have remembered the name of any Black Crowes album from memory after that. I regret never seeing them at their apex since I’ve been watching some YouTube videos of their concerts back in the day and they really were a great band with the “classic” lineup that included Marc Ford. That to me is what makes their story sad. I still think they were a band that had a lot of potential and could have been a band they aspired to be, one that was still selling out stadiums 30 years into their career. Beyond the typical stories of alcohol and drug abuse that led to dysfunction and division within the band, Gorman makes it clear the catalysts behind the demise of the Black Crowes were Chris and Rich Robinson. Ironically, it was my negative perception of the Robinson brothers, even way back then, that kept my appreciation for them at arm’s distance. Chris Robinson seemed like an entitled, narcissistic, poser prick who took himself really, really seriously. Gorman essentially confirmed all my suspicions, even from afar. I remember looking at the cover of Southern Harmony and the ridiculous get up Chris Robinson was wearing and even as a teenager thinking, “this guy is trying waaaay too hard.” I also remembered Chris Robinson slagging off other bands and thinking to myself at the time that it wouldn’t win him many friends. At one point, Gorman writes ““We were constantly making enemies. And as the number of enemies inevitably rose, those valleys stretched out ahead, longer and lonelier with each passing day.” I don’t think Chris Robinson’s shitty attitude coinciding with the band’s slow slide into irrelevance was a coincidence. Another quote from Gorman about Chris Robinson seemed to say it all: “If you’re selling millions of albums and dominating radio, you can get away with acting like an entitled prick.” The Black Crowes were two albums into their career and Chris Robinson was going around acting like he was Mick Jagger. Another quote about Chris Robinson just made me feel sorry for Gorman: “Chris rarely, if ever, acknowledged when he acted like a lunatic. He moved on as if everything was normal. It was maddening.” Like a lot of people, I’m sure, I had dreams of playing music as a career having grown up playing in bands. Even as a teenager it was often difficult to make everyone get along and see things the same way and not get into arguments over control and credit. But if it’s already your livelihood? The Black Crowes were only about eight years into their career and Gorman thought they had already hit their peak in 1996! Gorman clearly felt trapped and it’s not surprising that he came close to quitting several times before he actually did. The Black Crowes were his golden goose and he knew it, no matter how much he sometimes wanted to strangle that goose. In Gorman’s defense, what kept him coming back beyond the money was the music itself. He writes multiple times about the musical connection he had with other members of the band that he simply didn’t have with other musicians. I can agree that getting into that musical flow can be a high like a drug that you want to keep on coming back to. Despite all of Chris Robinson’s antics, Gorman seemed to save his best jerk stories for Rich Robinson. Two stand out, one being a bit more harmless than the other. Rich taking off with the tour bus to go back to Atlanta and leaving the rest of the band stranded, in New Orleans I think, was certainly not cool. I’d have been ready to tear his head off too. The bigger one of course is telling Jimmy Page “thanks but no thanks” to collaborating on an album. Something like that miiiiiight have been understandable if the Black Crowes were standing on top of the mountain, but at that point they were well into their slow backslide from their peak. If nothing else Jimmy Page was offering them a viable way back to relevance and Rich Robinson dismissed it. I’m sure the Robinson brothers have their own versions of these stories and as Gorman himself acknowledges, probably have plenty of their own stories about how much of a jerk he was over the years. But I’ll quote Bill Parcells here (which I never thought I’d do when writing about a book about the Black Crowes) that “you are what your record says you are.” I thought that Chris Robinson seemed like a posing, insecure, ungrateful self-involved lead singer and Gorman basically confirms it. I thought that Rich Robinson seemed like a petulant, boorish, tone-deaf bonehead and Gorman basically confirms it. Like I said, it’s sad because despite all of that I was ready to jump on the Black Crowes’ bandwagon early on. Gorman explains in painstaking detail all the reasons why the Black Crowes themselves are to blame for more and more people eventually jumping off. The one common theme that made me laugh however was the idea of money. Gorman gives many, many examples of Chris Robinson not “caring” about money (because he cared about the music folks) but then making countless decisions to enrich himself and enrich himself first. The most egregious story to this effect being when he wanted $150,000 to play Howard Stern’s birthday party. I find these stories of the Robinson brothers’ greed also very easy to believe. The reason is because I looked into concert tickets for the latest Black Crowes “reunion” tour this summer, which was basically the Robinson brothers and no other original members of the band. Middle section tickets were $150 a piece! I laughed at the stories because when I saw those prices I was like Rich Robinson and said, “thanks but no thanks.” Then a couple of months later I got an email about an “exclusive” offer at discounted tickets. I’m sure it’s because most fans had the same reaction I did to the ticket prices and were like “are you kidding me??”. Overall a great book and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who likes or liked the Black Crowes.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Russ

    First, the positive element. I enjoyed the insight into the actual inner-workings of the band, with details on the recording sessions, touring, shows and all that goes into that. Steve Hyden is a wonderful rock and roll writer imo, definitely focuses on a fan's interest (the music) first & foremost. Overall enjoying this book depends on a couple of factors, including your tolerance on literally 50% of it being about Steve's prospective on everything Chris Robinson does, says, thinks, breathes, ex First, the positive element. I enjoyed the insight into the actual inner-workings of the band, with details on the recording sessions, touring, shows and all that goes into that. Steve Hyden is a wonderful rock and roll writer imo, definitely focuses on a fan's interest (the music) first & foremost. Overall enjoying this book depends on a couple of factors, including your tolerance on literally 50% of it being about Steve's prospective on everything Chris Robinson does, says, thinks, breathes, exists ruining everybody's else's life and vibe. No, that's not intended to be sarcastic. Seems clear Chris is in many respects a a-hole based on the book. My prospective expands beyond that to: * Everyone is a hot mess here except Steve and a few pals (Jimmy Page for one). Mr. Gorman brings little self-awareness or accountability to these pages in any respect and for an epic amount of finger-pointing (accurate or otherwise) that's a difficult balance to stomach. There are two paragraphs on his co-dependency and an interesting epilogue, but otherwise I know very little about the author other than he loathes the Robinson brothers. * The band started with guys in their early 20's, all of which (except the author) evolved into their personal s#it shows (mostly drug related). Yea, for any # of reasons .. trends, evolution, evolving tastes, etc. .. there are going to be ups and downs. Trying to keep the vibe of 1991 into 2014 .. that's just a huge challenge in many respects. * Chris was clearly interested in evolving the band, for better or worse, but I can't throw shade on him for that. He's called out for being money-hungry, but then in the book he's taken to task for not doing promotion, writing "non-hit" setlists, exploring new sounds, turning down paying gigs, etc. All his faults are called out, yet he (imo) is an amazing song writer with a immediately identifiable distinctive talented vocal talent … yea, maybe this band needed a leader and a bandmates that either wanted to lead, follow or get out of the way. Mr. Gorman chooses none of those three here (imo). Really nobody comes off great here, but I'm reexploring the band's catalog, been listening to Warpaint for the past week. And yea, bought tickets for the Nov '20 show here in LA. Not going to overthink. Just going to enjoy and have a good time. Nothing sad about that Steve ..

  30. 4 out of 5

    Scott Lupo

    I am so torn from reading this book. Like many, I am a Zeppelin and Black Crowes fan. They are my top two favorite bands of all time. I cannot decide if Steve Gorman just wrote a diatribe against the Robinson brothers or if this is just the way he is. It is full of complaints and negativity, but maybe that was what is was like in the Black Crowes. To be honest, they were all young kids when they hit pay dirt and became musical superstars. There is no doubt in my mind that all of them lacked any I am so torn from reading this book. Like many, I am a Zeppelin and Black Crowes fan. They are my top two favorite bands of all time. I cannot decide if Steve Gorman just wrote a diatribe against the Robinson brothers or if this is just the way he is. It is full of complaints and negativity, but maybe that was what is was like in the Black Crowes. To be honest, they were all young kids when they hit pay dirt and became musical superstars. There is no doubt in my mind that all of them lacked any sense of emotional intelligence. If they felt angry, let it blow! If they felt sad, they consoled each other. If they felt happy, fuck everybody else! I think it is pretty much the same for the majority of rock stars. You know, they have a mythical 'lifestyle' they have to live in order for them to have inspiration for their next great hit. Gorman contradicts himself constantly throughout the book. It's terrible but we sold millions of records. Chris and Rich are awful, but they make great songs and albums. It was living at the extremes and not too many people can handle that for long. I mean there are always nuggets of truth in anybody's recollection of the past. Drama was a mainstay for this band, that is for sure. But Gorman does come off as sour grapes in a lot of ways. I was hoping for more on the inspiration and creativity that made so many great songs but Gorman admittedly said he never created or produced any of the songs or albums. Which leads me to believe he did not understand the business part of being in a band. He just wants things to work out on their own and just play. That's cool, but there are so many other things to worry about too. Were Chris and Rich greedy? Probably. But that is what happens when you become superstars and you feel like you are giving your life to a cause, namely the band. Gorman is a bit naive but I believe it was tough to work with the Robinson brothers too. Anyway, it was a decent book to read and now I'm listening to The Black Crowes again everyday. That, in itself, is worth it.

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