Behind the Band Name: The Black Crowes

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

When hearing the name The Black Crowes, it’s hard not to conjure up images of the famous black crow that symbolizes words like transformation. While many may think of the crow as a bad omen, Native Americans saw them as a symbol of good fortune, the latter of which seemingly rings true for the successful rock band.

The band didn’t start off under this name, rather originally calling themselves Mr. Crowe’s Garden that they took from the children’s book, Johnny Crow’s Garden, written and illustrated by Leonard Leslie Brooke and published in 1903 that tells the story of many types of animals that gather in a garden made by a black crow named Johnny Crow.

Created by brothers Chris and Rich Robinson when they were in high school, the band was founded in the town of Marietta, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. Their sound morphed over the years to become the hard rock band they’re known for today.

Legend has it that Mr. Crowe’s Garden was suggested to them as a band name by an unnamed girl at a party. The guys added the extra “e” at the end for fun, as reported in Dave Wilson’s 2004 book, Rock Formations: Categorical Answers to How Band Names Were Formed. The band ultimately decided to change their name to The Black Crowes at the urging of George Drakoulis, an executive at Def American that signed them to the label in 1989. Among the other names he suggested were The Stone Mountain Crowes, The Confederate Crowes, and simply Black Crowes.

After recording a series of demos throughout the late 1980s, the band released their debut studio album in 1990, Shake Your Money Maker, which set their career on fire, debuting at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and spawning a series of hit singles, beginning with “Jealous Again.” They scored two No. 1 hits off the record with a cover of Otis Redding’s “Hard to Handle” and the original “She Talks to Angels,” the latter of which was written in the band’s early days when they were still called Mr. Crowe’s Garden.

Setting the stage for superstardom, the band’s following eight albums were also successes, featuring No. 1 hits “Remedy,” “Sting Me,” “Thorn in My Pride” and “Hotel Illness.”

Photo by Ian Dickson/Redferns

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