Black Crowes lead singer Chris Robinson is not afraid to bite the hand that feeds him.
After a concert Monday night in Atlanta, Robinson’s band was dropped as the opening act on the ZZ Top tour for criticizing the tour affiliation with the corporate sponsor, Miller Beer.
“They weren’t allowing us to be the Black Crowes,” Robinson said during an MTV “Rockline” television broadcast after the Atlanta show. “They were trying to censor what I was trying to say. . . . I don’t need a big corporation telling me about the only thing in my life I have control over really, which is my music.”
The Crowes’ troubles apparently began three weeks ago when ZZ Top’s Houston-based management company, Lone Wolf Productions, warned Robinson to refrain from making quips between songs about corporate sponsorship. Sample line at the beginning of the band’s set: “This is live rock ‘n’ roll being brought to you commercial free.”
The management firm threatened to fire the group if the group didn’t stop criticizing Miller’s involvement with the tour. A spokesman for Lone Wolf Productions confirmed Tuesday that the band had been dropped from the tour, which began in January and is due to end May 3.
“This decision was arrived at entirely within this organization and not as has been suggested as a result of corporate pressure,” the company said in a statement released Tuesday. “Miller Brewing has been a partner in this tour since its inception and has been very accommodating to ZZ Top and has asked absolutely nothing of the opening acts which have appeared. It is out of a sense of common decency and courtesy coupled with a moral and ethical obligation that this action has been taken.”
In the Rockline interview, Robinson said, apparently referring to the management company, “I can understand them being defensive about corporate sponsorship. But we’re not sponsored by anyone. We’re the Black Crowes. We’re sponsored by ourselves.”
One of the hottest rock debuts in years, the Black Crowes’ “Shake Your Money Maker” album has sold more than 2 million copies and is still No. 5 after 54 weeks on the national pop charts.