Robben Ford

Robben Ford is a top-rated electric guitarist. He is known for his blues playing and his comfort in many musical settings. He is a five-time Grammy nominee and has performed with many artists, including Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, Jimmy Witherspoon (with Miles Davis), George Harrison, George Harrison, Phil Lesh. Robben was born in Woodlake, California in 1951 and grew up in Ukiah. He was the third son in a musical family. Charles, his father was a singer/guitarist in country and western music. He married Kathryn who had a beautiful singing voice and played the piano. Robben began playing the saxophone at age ten. He continued to play until his twenties. After hearing Elvin Bishop and Michael Bloomfield, Robben began learning guitar at the age of thirteen. Ford visited the Fillmore and Winterland Auditoriums of San Francisco in the late 1960’s to see Eric Clapton, Cream Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Albert King, B.B. King and all the blues pioneers. Robben recalls, “It was an amazing time for electric guitar.” Robben recalls his love for jazz. He found it inspiring and he soon discovered Ornette Coleman, Yusef Lateef and Roland Kirk. This has influenced his unique blend of blues and jazz that allows him to play in a variety of settings. Robben formed The Charles Ford Band with his brothers Patrick, a blues drummer, and Mark, a blues harmonica player. They recorded for Arhoolie. Robben (on guitar and sax) and Patrick went on tour with Chicago harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite. They recorded again for Arhoolie. Robben’s attempt to form his own jazz band was rejected by Jimmy Witherspoon (the legendary blues singer), who brought Robben to Los Angeles. Witherspoon took Robben on a tour of the U.S. and Europe and he was then seen by Tom Scott and other members of The L.A. Express. Mitchell was about to embark on a promotional tour, and Robben was invited as a guitarist on the tour. Robben also recorded two songs with Mitchell and The L.A. Express. Joni was a great mentor and teacher. Joni was brilliant and accessible. The L.A. Express members became friends and teachers. It was amazing.” Beatle George Harrison invited Robben on his “Dark Horse Tour” of the U.S.A and Canada. This raised his musical profile further. Robben left Harrison’s two-month stint and moved to Colorado to pursue Buddhist teachings with Chogyam Trungpa. Elektra Records approached Robben in 1977 to record his first solo album “The Inside Story”, which he recorded with a group that would become The Yellowjackets. In the 1980’s Elektra shut down, causing uncertainty. Robben moved from England to San Francisco in order to be near his family and to preserve his musical heritage. His career would soon take another upswing, with him recording and touring with Michael McDonald and securing a record deal with Warner Brothers Records. He also met Anne Kerry, his soon-to be wife. He was invited to join Miles Davis’ band after moving to New York with Anne. “Producer Tommy LiPuma presented Miles my work with Yellowjackets and then, three days later, Miles personally called me to ask me to join his band. It was shocking!” Robben was upset that he had to leave Miles after six months due to recording commitments with Warner Brothers. However, Miles told him that if he ever wants to return, he would “just come back.” Robben began touring the globe under his own name in 1988’s “Talk to Your Daughter,” which earned him his first Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Recording. He was still based in New York and he supported David Sandborn on “Night Music”, in which Sandborn featured a variety musical acts. Robben toured in 1990 with Sandborn, and then returned to Southern California to start his own band. Robben left Warner Brothers and signed with Stretch/GRP Records. There he found a home for his creativity. He recorded three CDs with “The Blue Line”, Tom Brechtlein on drums, and Roscoe Ben on bass. Robben ended the band after eight very successful years and recorded two more CDs with Stretch/GRP records, which later became Stretch/Blue Thumb. “Tiger Walk”, an instrumental recording made in New York by Keith Richard’s rhythm section, and “Supernatural”, his most significant work as a songwriter. Robben was invited by Phil Lesh and Friends to tour with Bob Dylan in 2000. He reunited him with Little Feat drummer John Molo and Paul Barrere, and he also toured with Little Feat’s Billy Paine. “This experience made me more respect Jerry Garcia as a musician/songwriter.” Robben signed with Concord Records in 2002, when his contract at Stretch/Blue Thumb expired. This was the largest independent record company at that time. He released “Blue Moon” in 2002 and “Keep on Runnin” in 2003. Both recordings were full of 60’s blues/R.

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