Book Review: Hard To Handle- The Life & Death of The Black Crowes-Steve Gorman

Hard To Handle and in its 369 pages is, without doubt, the best Rock Biography I have ever read!

Sure that is quite the statement but I tell you, author, Steve Gorman (had the best seat in the house as Steve was the Crowes Drummer from 1987 to 2013) has compiled such a fascinating read that once you start it you cannot put this book down.

Gorman has written a book in a way that you don’t even have to be a huge fan of the Crowes(they kind of lost me after the third album  1995’s Amorica) to get the dysfunction within a band. Steve pulls no punches in regards to anyone and I believe him when he writes the many tales of Rich and Chris Robinson and how they singlehandedly destroyed anything positive that came there way.

You want an example here’s one that Groman learned a year and a half later after a 55 date tour and recording session with Jimmy Page was canceled as Gorman bumped into Page in London.

Page told Gorman that he offered to write songs with the Robinson brothers for their next record, but Rich blew him off with a “No thanks! … We don’t need more songs.” “I was insulted,” Page said to Gorman, who furiously called the Crowes’ manager and told him, “I’m driving to Connecticut, and I’m going to kill Rich in his home.”

How Gorman tells these tales is amazing. It makes sense to see how one would go bonkers as Steve writes that the Crowes were on life support by 1999 and they hook up with Page for the Live At The Greek Theater show which resulted in there first Gold album in years and a renewed interest from Record Companies and Promoters about a tour and album with Page.

I could share many stories with you but let’s just say you would be better to track this book down for yourself! My daughter Lauren gave it to me as a gift this Xmas so it’s good I had some time off from work as I was immersed in this book big time.

I also have to add that I love how Steve gets right to it as he starts the book back in 1987 when he first hooked up with the Robinson brothers( Mr. Crowes Garden was their original band name). Gorman avoids that usual first 100 pages of a rock bio when one goes on about there childhood and whatnot.  Right to the meat and potatoes of the Book!

Speaking of 1987 that’s when Steve took up drumming(at the age of 25) and then 3 years later(1990)  Steve and The Black Crowes are opening in arenas for…

Aerosmith paid the Crowes $500 a night and as Gorman says, Joe Perry was a surly prick to them. Steve used the word ‘surly’.

ZZ Top who fired the Crowes after there hometown Atlanta show as Chris was announcing from the stage that ZZ sold out to cooperate sponsorship for the tour. (Miller Lite). Read the book and you can see how the Lead Singer became a hypocrite in regards to sponsorship.

Robert Plant who Gorman said that Plant and his band were the best to tour with had a 4-day layoff as both bands camped together at a park in Manitoba Canada!!

Producer Brendan O’Brien lays down the guitar solo on Hard To Handle off the debut album.

Gorman and Page took a nap together backstage in Page’s dressing room which pissed the brothers off. Haha!

Just a few tidbits for ya.

Chris and Rich fought constantly. Chris hated the Grateful Dead in the early ’90s but by 1995 Chris wanted the Crowes to become a band like the Grateful Dead as he became a huge DeadHead.

The third album Tall was scrapped at a cost of $600,000 and rerecorded and came out as Amorica which did not amuse the record company whatsoever.

They played Edinburgh Scotland once and never returned.

Manager Pete Angelus had to deal with a ton of shit to say the least. Angelus warned the Crowes early on that when you play a gig you always leave together as band. No wandering off as when Angelus was managing Van Halen in the early 80’s he had to calm down a Father in a hotel lobby as his daughter was in a room upstairs with David Lee Roth. The real problem Angleus noted was the Father was in the hotel lobby swinging a running chainsaw around!

When one reads this book you realize the Black Crowes was a band who couldn’t get along with anyone including themselves

Course what brought the band to break up was wait for it…

Money! When the Crowes first started Chris/Rich/Steve and Bassist Johhny Colt ( Colt has to be one of the coolest as fuck guys ever!) were all equals until Colt quit and they split the money 3 ways. No surprise there and as Steve writes about…

On the eve of a 2015 tour celebrating the anniversary of the band’s debut album, Chris Robinson demanded a larger percentage of the Crowes’ dough. Chris wanted all of Gorman’s share. Chris wanted 75 percent of all the band’s income which was an upgrade from the 33 1/3 percent Chris had been receiving.

One Hell of a fascinating read!

Here’s a quote on the back of the back that sums it up best!

“I couldn’t put the book down–absolutely unbelievable read! Now I know why I was lucky to play tennis; I didn’t have to deal with anyone except myself!”

John McEnroe, New York Times bestselling author of But Seriously and You Cannot Be Serious.


35 thoughts on “Book Review: Hard To Handle- The Life & Death of The Black Crowes-Steve Gorman”

    1. It was ballsy for sure as Steve said it felt like they used Page to renew interest in there band.
      I can’t even tell u how many times Gorman wanted to quit yet Angelus would talk him off the ledge time and time again.
      Amazing stuff!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Great review of a great book that I could not put down either. Regretfully, one of the outcomes of reading this tome was that I like the Crowes a little (or a lot) less now! Chris & Rich Robinson seem like really unlikeable people! And it’s pretty obvious, the upcoming reunion tour, featuring The Robinson Bros. and no one else from the original line-up, is the cash grab Gorman predicted here in these pages!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah that reunion thing is sad. But as Gorman states ‘money driven’. It’s funny how the brothers were always at each other. One day one guy would be calm than the next day the other brother was crazy.
      Gorman seems like a stand up guy to survive it all. Chris screwed it all up.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy New Year to you and your family Joe!
      Johnny Colt was also a brawler when duty called. HAHA.
      Thanks for reading and you will not be disappointed in this book. Let me know when you are done reading it what your thoughts are.


    1. It’s a great read Bop. Well if you have the oppuurtunity to go you might as well to compare if anything.
      I’m glad I caught them back in April 1993 when they rolled into town with that Harmony Tour. It was such a great live presentaton and the fact that they were current and still came here is a mind blower.
      The Ju Ju Hounds opened without Izzy which Gorman explains in his book as well.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The Crowes brought out the Ju Ju Hounds on there Canadian tour back in 93. They were not even announced as openers but we recognized the three hounds and for a few minutes we thought ‘Friggin Izzy’s here” but after a few seconds more it was nope. No Izzy just the Ju Ju.
        In Steve’e book he writes that they took the Hounds on there tour bus and crossed Canada with them. Bummer as I love that Stradlin album but oh well…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is awesome Deke! I want this book now. This sounds like the kind of read I would thoroughly enjoy…dirt and behind the scenes mayhem!! Now, to get through my two books I currently have to get to this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You will love this book John, Tons of tales as you can see the unraveling begin early on. Robinson bros are there own worst enemies.
      I’m on Alive 3 in the Prato book. Good read also.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice one, Deke – and I know you’ve read many rock bios so that speaks volumes!
    I quite like that Steve didn’t pick up the drums until 25 & that he uses the word ‘surly’ to describe prick-ish behaviour!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Surly it is.
      Its funny as Steve writes he always heard the drums in his head and would thnk stuff out before he actually took it up. Amazing really to begin so late than bam into the studio and arenas. Now thats a rocket ride!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. No agreement as its only the brothers and 3 hired guns hitting the road. A bullshit move if you aske me. But this day and age of runions nothing surprises me anymore.


  4. I will definitely get to this eventually. When it was announced I suspected it was going to be really good and you’ve confirmed it!

    The Robinsons always seemed like arseholes to me… in a good way though? But I kinda gave up on them after 3 Snakes so if the book sours me on them it’s no big loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. John Enroe! Well hell, if that isn’t the funniest thing. I have never thought he’d sell me on a book!

    My buddy Bob used to throw his tennis racket…we called him McEnBob.

    So yeah, obviously you sold me on this too. It sounds fabulous. If anything, I think perhaps you gave too much away! But then I imagine what else must be in the book….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mikey there are a ton of stories. I just highlighted a few. Every chapter every page those Bros are wired differently.
      How cool would it have been to have seen the Crowes and Robert Plant camping in Manitoba of all places.


  6. Amazing, Deke – I’m gonna get this one.

    … and in fairness, I’d have told Page to fuck off too! Rich could rip off old blues tunes without him.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I live in Nashville and Steve Gorman was on a radio station out here doing sports for a while. The first two Crowes albums I really liked. They were like a mix between the Faces and The Stones. It was refreshing at the time to hear a throwback to the seventies. I was 23 when Shake Your Money Maker came out. The band I played in started to play Jealous Again when it came out.

    Sounds like a book I would like.

    Great site man!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I’m with you on the first two albums. Crowes lost me after that but i still bought their stuff up to Lions but nothing came close to those first two records.
      Gorman seems like a real stand up guy. Great book.

      Liked by 1 person

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