Robin Leonard Trower (born 9 March 1945, Catford, South East London, England) is an English rock guitarist who achieved success with Procol Harum during the 1960s, and then again as the leader of his own power trio.
Trower grew up in the seaside resort of Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England.
In 1962, Trower formed a group that came to be known as The Paramounts, later including fellow Southend High School pupil Gary Brooker. The Paramounts disbanded in 1966 to pursue individual projects. During this time, Trower created a local 3 piece Southend band called 'The Jam' - not to be confused with the later group with Paul Weller. Trower then joined Brooker's new band Procol Harum in 1967, with whom he remained until 1972. After going solo in 1971 (replaced in Procol Harum by Dave Ball), he found the individual identity and style that have brought him acclaim to this day.
Before launching his own eponymous band, he joined singer Frankie Miller, bass player James Dewar, and former Jethro Tull drummer Clive Bunker to form the short-lived combo Jude. Although this outfit played some well-received gigs, it did not record and soon split up.
Trower retained Dewar as a bassist, who took on lead vocals as well, and recruited drummer Reg Isidore (later replaced by Bill Lordan) to form the Robin Trower Band in 1973.
Perhaps Trower's most famous album is Bridge of Sighs (1974). This album, along with his first and third solo albums, was produced by his former Procol Harum bandmate, organist Matthew Fisher. Despite differences, Trower's early power trio work was noted for Hendrixesque influences.
In 1977, feeling he had already proven himself as a performer, Trower ventured into new musical realms, as demonstrated by the release of the In City Dreams album. The 1978 release of Caravan to Midnight was in a different style from the rest of his earlier work, symbolising a change in direction for him. "I am spending much more time and energy and effort on writing and arranging the material," he said at the time, adding "I think music today is suffering greatly from a cleanness. It's too set, too pat, too clever, there's not enough spontaneity."
In the early 1980s, Trower teamed up with former Cream bassist Jack Bruce and his previous drummers Lordan and Isidore, for two albums, BLT (Bruce, Lordan, Trower) and Truce (Trower, Bruce, Isidore).
Trower's album, Living Out of Time (2003), features the return of veteran bandmates Dave Bronze on bass, vocalist Davey Pattison (formerly with Ronnie Montrose's band Gamma) and Pete Thompson on drums - the same lineup as the mid 1980s albums Passion and Take What You Need.
With the same bandmates Trower gave a concert on his 60th birthday in Bonn, Germany. The concert was recorded by the German television channel WDR. It was then released on DVD and subsequently on CD throughout Europe and later the US under the title Living Out Of Time: Live.
In 2007 Trower released a third recording with Jack Bruce, Seven Moons, featuring Gary Husband on drums.
Trower toured the United States and Canada in the summer and autumn of 2006. A 2008 world tour began in Ft. Pierce, Florida on 16 January 2008. Joining Davey Pattison and Pete Thompson was Glenn Letsch (formerly of Gamma) playing bass. European dates began in April. The 29 March 2008 show at the Royal Oak Music Theater in Royal Oak, Michigan was released as a double album on V12 Records.
On Friday, September 25, 2009, Trower was taken ill prior to his performance at the Palace Theater in Greensburg, Pa. An ambulance with paramedics was called to the theater to assist Trower. However, after a delay Trower, thanking the audience for its patience, performed a 90-minute set with his band, including an encore.
Trower performing in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in January 2008 Photo: Carl Lender
Trower has been a long time proponent of the Fender Stratocaster. He currently uses his custom built Strat (made by the Fender Custom Shop) which comes in Black, Arctic White and Midnight Wine Burst. The guitar is equipped with a 1950s reissue pickup in the neck position, a 1960s reissue in the middle position, and a Texas Special at the bridge. Other features included a custom C-shaped maple neck featuring a large headstock with a Bullet truss-rod system, locking machine heads and a maple fingerboard with narrow-spaced abalone dot position inlays and 21 frets. The Strats he plays live are an exact model of his signature guitar, which is entirely unmodified. During live performances, his guitar is tuned a full step down, to a DGCFAD tuning, instead of the "standard" EADGBE tuning.
Trower is known to use anywhere from one to three 100-Watt Marshall heads with four to six cabinets on stage. Usually two JCM 800s, and a JCM 900. But, has also been known to link 100-Watt Marshall Plexi heads. It is not uncommon for Trower to play at very high volume levels through his rigs, even in relatively small venues, to achieve his desired tone. In studio sessions, Trower uses a mix of amplifiers, such as Fender Deville and Cornell Plexi Amplifers models to acquire different tonality. Recently, Trower has been using Marshall Vintage Modern 2466 heads live.
He has recently been using Fulltone pedals and effects. He favors the OCD, Distortion Pro, Fat Boost, CLYDE Deluxe Wah, Deja Vibe 2, Soul-Bender, and a BOSS Chromatic Tuner. He runs his Deja Vibe into his distortion pedal to get his famous tone. He was given his own signature Fulltone Robin Trower Overdrive in late 2008.
For his 2009 tour Robin was using his Fender Custom Shop Signature Stratocater into a Boss TU-2 Chromatic Tuner, Fulltone Robin Trower Overdrive, Fulltone Full Drive, Fulltone Clyde Standard Wah, Fulltone Wahfull, and Fulltone DejaVibe 2 into two Marshall Vintage Modern 2466 heads.