It’s been ten years.
A lot of thoughts and feelings rise up today; memories of being a teenager and drooling over that black Jackson V when I saw the Round and Round video for the first time. Reading about Robbin in Guitar for the Practicing Musician magazine and seeing pictures of him and that massive, red King V (which was named after him). Wearing out cassettes and hanging posters of Robbin and RATT on my wall. Figuring out the little lead break in Lack of Communication and then teaching it to my friend Mark. Cracking up at his sense of humor. Getting the Jackson “Big Red” Tribute guitar project going again. Good memories. That’s what I choose to focus on.
Robbin Crosby was larger than life. And, like many of us, he had his demons. Yes, I remember hearing them come out in his voice at times, along with seeing the results of what those demons had brought to him. It was difficult. I wanted to cheer him on, to help him overcome. America loves an underdog; a story of redemption and rising up from the ashes, but sometimes you don’t get that ending.
I remember getting the call from Tracy on Thursday, June 6th, 2002; I was in a doctor’s office waiting room with my son. I think caller ID makes it worse; you know how it can be strange to get a phone call from someone at a different time of day than when you normally hear from them? You see the number, you know that something’s wrong, and there’s that hesitation to answer because you’re nervous to take the call in fear of having your instinct confirmed. It was the call I knew was coming, complete with the words I didn’t want to hear. Robbin had died.
My next thought was the last time I spoke with him; the previous Tuesday night. He didn’t sound right, and he hadn’t been well. We spoke for a couple of minutes, and I told him to get some sleep. His response was “yeah…I’ll call you when I’m feeling better, Sully.” Sadly, that call never came.
I had a gig that weekend (I was in a KISS tribute band, and we were playing at a KISS expo in Evansville, Indiana), but I wanted to cancel and go to California and help out somehow. But really, it wasn’t my place; what could I have done? Eventually, I figured I’d say something about Robbin when it was time for me to play Shock Me, and I worked in a little bit of the Round and Round verse riff in the solo spot. It’s a small gesture, but it was something I could do.
Robbin could take you through many emotions; happiness, sadness, sometimes anger and frustration. He was a very sweet, funny guy and always had a one-liner. He was genuinely interested in others and would often ask how my son was doing in school. Sometimes he’d be filled with determination; to walk again, to get out on his own again, to reclaim his place in the world. Other times he’d be depressed and ask if I could fly out to see him for a few days. It was very difficult to hear, and especially not be able to do exactly that. Even when he was at his lower points, he never wanted anyone to feel sorry for him. He kept a perspective that you had to respect; he never wanted anyone to feel sorry for him. He acknowledged that his life choices led him to where he was (as many people would say to me with much less tact over the years), but through it all, he said that he had “lived the life of ten men.”
When we initially started building the website, Robbin said that more than anything else, he just didn’t want to be forgotten. I’m happy to say that RobbinCrosby.net will be updated over the next few months with a lot of never seen photos, and we look forward to getting it all finished. Over the past ten years, I’ve received many emails from fellow fans, guitar players, and people whose lives were impacted in some way by Robbin. There are a lot of similar stories and common threads in the emails that we get, and it makes me very happy to know that there are so many people out there that keep his memory alive.
Long live the King.