Robin Trower – A Life in Music
Robin Trower, a living legend in the world of blues and rock guitar, has mesmerized fans and fellow musicians alike with his soulful, expressive playing and unique tone. From his early days with Procol Harum to his successful solo career, Trower has remained an influential force in music for over five decades.
In this post, we will delve into the life and career of Robin Trower, as well as explore the guitars and equipment that have shaped his unmistakable sound.
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Born on March 9, 1945, in Catford, London, Robin Leonard Trower grew up in a musical family, and his love for the guitar began at a young age. He was influenced by iconic artists such as B.B. King, Albert King, and Muddy Waters. Trower’s professional career started in the mid-60s when he joined the R&B group The Paramounts. However, it was his tenure with the British rock band Procol Harum that truly launched his career.
Procol Harum (1967-1971)
Trower joined Procol Harum in 1967, shortly after their hit single “A Whiter Shade of Pale” skyrocketed them to fame. As the band’s guitarist, he contributed to their unique blend of progressive rock, blues, and classical music. Trower played on several of Procol Harum’s classic albums, including “Shine on Brightly,” “A Salty Dog,” and “Broken Barricades.” His time with the band helped shape his playing style and laid the foundation for his future solo work.
Solo Career (1973-present)
After leaving Procol Harum in 1971, Trower embarked on a solo career, quickly establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with. His debut album, “Twice Removed from Yesterday,” was released in 1973, followed by the groundbreaking “Bridge of Sighs” in 1974. This album, featuring classics like “Too Rolling Stoned” and “Day of the Eagle,” showcased Trower’s fluid, emotive playing and cemented his status as a guitar hero.
Throughout his career, Trower has released over 20 solo albums, consistently exploring new sonic territories while staying true to his blues and rock roots. His most recent release, “United State of Mind” (2020), is a collaboration with singer-songwriter Maxi Priest and producer Livingstone Brown.
Guitars and Equipment
Robin Trower’s guitar arsenal has evolved over the years, but some key elements have remained consistent. His primary guitar has always been a Fender Stratocaster, typically fitted with a rosewood fretboard. Some of his notable Stratocasters include a 1965 model with a custom finish and a signature model released by Fender in 2015.
Trower is also known for his use of effects, particularly the Uni-Vibe, which emulates the sound of a rotating speaker cabinet. This effect has become synonymous with his signature sound, as heard on tracks like “Bridge of Sighs” and “Daydream.” In addition to the Uni-Vibe, Trower has used various other effects, such as the Fulltone OCD overdrive, the Boss CE-2 Chorus, and the Jim Dunlop Cry Baby Wah pedal.
As for amplifiers, Trower has predominantly relied on Marshall amps throughout his career, particularly the JTM45 and 100-watt Super Lead models. These amps provide the warm, rich tones that characterize his sound. In recent years, he has also used custom-built amps by Hi-Tone, which are designed to replicate the classic Marshall tones while offering increased headroom and versatility.
Trower’s approach to his guitar rig is simple, yet effective. He relies on a few key pieces of equipment that are integral to his tone, focusing on achieving an expressive and emotive sound that resonates with his audience. This approach has served him well, allowing his music to stand the test of time and continue to inspire generations of guitarists.
Collaborations and Side Projects
Throughout his career, Robin Trower has collaborated with various artists, showcasing his versatility as a guitarist. One of his most notable collaborations was with legendary bassist and singer Jack Bruce, formerly of Cream. Together, they released three albums – “B.L.T.” (1981), “Truce” (1982), and “Seven Moons” (2008) – which blended Trower’s unmistakable guitar work with Bruce’s powerful vocals and bass playing.
Another noteworthy collaboration is Trower’s work with Bryan Ferry, the former frontman of Roxy Music. Trower played guitar on Ferry’s 1993 album “Taxi,” lending his signature sound to the album’s blues-infused tracks.
Legacy and Influence
Robin Trower’s impact on the world of guitar cannot be overstated. His fluid, emotive playing style has influenced countless guitarists across various genres, including blues, rock, and even metal. Artists such as Joe Bonamassa, Eric Gales, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd have cited Trower as a significant influence on their playing.
Trower’s dedication to his craft and his constant pursuit of new musical frontiers have earned him a place among the pantheon of guitar greats. Despite the passage of time, his music continues to captivate audiences and inspire fellow musicians, solidifying his status as a true guitar legend.
Robin Trower’s extraordinary career has spanned over five decades, marked by memorable collaborations, groundbreaking albums, and a singular guitar tone that remains instantly recognizable. His journey, from his early days with Procol Harum to his enduring solo career, has left an indelible mark on the world of music. Trower’s signature Stratocasters, well-chosen effects, and trusty Marshall amps have shaped his iconic sound, making him a true inspiration for generations of guitarists.
As we celebrate the life and work of Robin Trower, it is clear that his impact will continue to resonate for years to come. His passion for the guitar and his commitment to exploring new musical horizons serve as a testament to the enduring power of music and its ability to move and inspire listeners around the globe.