Robin Leonard Trower (born 9 March 1945) is an English rock guitarist and vocalist who achieved success with Procol Harum during the 1960s, and then again as the bandleader of his own power trio.
Trower was born in Catford, South East London, England and grew up in the seaside resort of Southend-on-Sea, Essex. In 1962, Trower formed a group that became The Paramounts, later including Westcliff High School pupil Gary Brooker. The Paramounts disbanded in 1966 to pursue individual projects. During this time, Trower created a local three-piece band called 'The Jam' (not to be confused with the later group with Paul Weller). Trower then joined Brooker's new band Procol Harum following the success of their debut single "A Whiter Shade of Pale" in 1967, remaining with them until 1971 and appearing on Procol Harum's first five albums.
Before launching his own eponymous band, he joined singer Frankie Miller, bass player James Dewar, and former Jethro Tull drummer Clive Bunker to form the short-lived combo Jude. This outfit did not record and soon split up.
Trower retained Dewar as his bassist, who took on lead vocals as well, and recruited drummer Reg Isidore (later replaced by Bill Lordan) to form the Robin Trower Band in 1973.
Perhaps Trower's most famous album is Bridge of Sighs (1974). This album, along with his first and third solo albums, was produced by his former Procol Harum bandmate, organist Matthew Fisher. Despite differences, Trower's early power trio work was noted for Hendrixesque influences.
Trower is an influential guitarist who has inspired other guitar legends such as Robert Fripp, who praised him for his bends and the quality of his sounds, and took lessons from him.
In the early 1980s, Trower teamed up with former Cream bassist Jack Bruce and his previous drummers Lordan and Isidore, for two albums, BLT (Bruce, Lordan, Trower) and Truce (Trower, Bruce, Isidore). After those albums, he released another album with James Dewar on vocals titled Back It Up in 1983. Robin Trower was dropped from Chrysalis Records afterwards.
In 1991 Trower was also a part of the Night Of The Guitars II European tour organised by Sting and The Police manager Miles Copeland. The tour featured Ronnie Montrose, Saga's Ian Crichton, Dave Sharman, Jan Akkerman and Laurie Wisefield.
Thirteen albums later, Trower's album, Living Out of Time (2003), features the return of veteran bandmates Dave Bronze on bass, vocalist Davey Pattison (formerly with Ronnie Montrose's band Gamma) and Pete Thompson on drums—the same line-up as the mid 1980s albums Passion and Take What You Need.
With the same bandmates Trower gave a concert on his 60th birthday in Bonn, Germany. The concert was recorded by the German television channel WDR. It was then released on DVD and subsequently on CD throughout Europe and later the US under the title Living Out Of Time: Live. Trower toured the United States and Canada in the summer and autumn of 2006.
In 2007 Trower released a third recording with Jack Bruce, Seven Moons, featuring Gary Husband on drums.
A 2008 world tour began in Ft. Pierce, Florida on 16 January 2008. Joining Davey Pattison and Pete Thompson was Glenn Letsch (formerly of Gamma) playing bass. European dates began in April. The 29 March 2008 show at the Royal Oak Music Theater in Royal Oak, Michigan was released as a double album on V12 Records.
As his "big hero" he referenced the early James Brown where blues is crossing over into rock and roll.
In Procol Harum Trower typically played Gibson guitars. Upon launching his solo career Trower changed to a Fender Stratocaster almost exclusively. During a tour with Jethro Tull, Robin arrived early for a sound check and found Martin Barre’s Stratocaster (which Barre used for slide playing) propped up against an amplifier. Trower picked up the guitar, plugged it in, and with a shout which resounded around the auditorium yelled, "This is it!" "I then switched to Strat" he says. "Up to then I had been playing Les Pauls."
Since then Trower has been a longtime proponent of the Fender Stratocaster. He currently uses his custom-built Strat (made by the Fender Custom Shop) which comes in Black, Arctic White and Midnight Wine Burst. The guitar is equipped with a 1950s reissue pick-up in the neck position, a 1960s reissue in the middle position, and a Texas Special at the bridge. Other features included a custom C-shaped maple neck featuring a large headstock with a Bullet truss-rod system, locking machine heads and a maple fingerboard with narrow-spaced abalone dot position inlays and 21 frets. The Strats he plays live are an exact model of his signature guitar, which is entirely unmodified. During live performances and on most of his albums, his guitar is tuned a full step down to a DGCFAD tuning.
Trower uses between one and three 100-watt Marshall heads with four to six cabinets on stage. While he usually uses two JCM 800s and a JCM 900, he also links 100-watt Marshall Plexi heads. In studio sessions, Trower uses a mix of amplifiers, such as a Fender Blues Junior and Cornell Plexi Amplifers models to acquire different tonality. Recently, Trower has been using Marshall Vintage Modern 2466 heads live.
He has recently been using Fulltone pedals and effects. He favours the OCD, Distortion Pro, Fat Boost, CLYDE Deluxe Wah, Deja Vibe 2, Soul-Bender, and a BOSS Chromatic Tuner. He runs his Deja Vibe into his distortion pedal to get his famous tone. He was given his own signature Fulltone Robin Trower Overdrive in late 2008.
For his 2009 and 2011 US tours Robin was using his Fender Custom Shop Signature Stratocaster into a Fulltone Deja Vibe 2, Fulltone Wahfull, Fulltone Clyde Standard Wah, Fulltone Full Drive, Fulltone Robin Trower Overdrive and Boss TU-2 Chromatic Tuner into two Marshall Vintage Modern 2466 heads.
With Procol Harum
- 1967 Procol Harum
- 1968 Shine on Brightly (Trower sings backup on "Wish Me Well")
- 1969 A Salty Dog (Trower sings lead on "Crucifiction Lane")
- 1970 Ain't Nothin' to Get Excited About (members of Procol Harum, as Liquorice John Death)
- 1970 Home
- 1971 Broken Barricades
- 1991 The Prodigal Stranger
- 1995 The Long Goodbye
With Robin Trower Band
- 1973 Twice Removed from Yesterday – Certified Gold by RIAA
- 1974 Bridge of Sighs – Certified Gold by RIAA
- 1975 For Earth Below – Certified Gold by RIAA
- 1976 Long Misty Days – Certified Gold by RIAA
- 1977 In City Dreams – Certified Gold by RIAA
- 1978 Caravan to Midnight
- 1979 Victims of the Fury
- 1983 Back It Up
- 1987 Passion
- 1988 Take What You Need
- 1990 In the Line of Fire
- 1994 20th Century Blues
- 1997 Someday Blues
- 2000 Go My Way
- 2004 Living Out of Time
- 2005 Another Days Blues
- 2009 What Lies Beneath
- 2010 The Playful Heart
- 2013 Roots and Branches
- 1976 Robin Trower Live
- 1985 Beyond the Mist
- 1992 Live in Concert
- 1996 In Concert
- 1996 King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents Robin Trower
- 1999 This Was Now '74-'98
- 2005 Living Out Of Time: Live (Note: Also available on DVD)
- 2008 RT@RO.08
- 2011 Robin Trower at The BBC 1973-1975
- 1991 Essential Robin Trower
With Bryan Ferry
- 1993 Taxi (Bryan Ferry)
- 1994 Mamouna (Bryan Ferry)
- 2007 Dylanesque (Bryan Ferry)
With Jack Bruce
- 1981 B.L.T.
- 1982 Truce
- 1989 No Stopping Anytime (compilation)
- 2008 Seven Moons
- 2009 Seven Moons Live (live)
- Procol Harum
- The Paramounts
- Jack Bruce
- TrowerPower.com – Official website
- Shaw.ca – The complete history of The Robin Trower Band (fan site)
- ModernGuitars.com – 2006 Robin Trower Interview with Brian D. Holland, Modern Guitars magazine
- NPR.org – Robin Trower on NPR
- OlsenArt.com – "Funky" Paul Olsen's album cover artwork for Robin Trower
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Image from Discogs