Robbin Crosby - The Man They Called King
Robbinson Lantz aka Robbin"King" Crosby (August 4, 1959 – June 6, 2002)
In the late 1970s Crosby played in the San Diego band Mac Media. Where he recorded an early version of the songs "Scene of the Crime" and "I'm Insane" that would later be recorded by Ratt for the "Out of the Cellar" album.
Mac Media - I'm Insane
Mac Media - Scene of the Crime
In 1980, Crosby was in the band Phenomenon which also featured Parramore McCarty later of (Warrior/Steve Stevens Atomic Playboys/Radiation Romeos) and released one single "The Final Word".
Phenomenon - The Final Word
Crosby was dating actress Tawny Kitaen (who would go on to appear in several Whitesnake videos) at the time he joined Ratt, and she appears on the album covers of both the Ratt EP (1983) and Out of the Cellar (1984).
He later married Playboy Playmate Laurie Carr in 1987, eventually divorcing in 1991. They had no children. She was chosen as Playboy's Playmate of the Month in December, 1986. She appeared on the covers of Slaughter's Stick It to Ya and Stick It Live.
Although he was often overshadowed in the press by Ratt lead guitarist Warren DeMartini, Crosby co-wrote hard rock classics like ‘Round and Round’ and ‘Lay it Down.’ Noisecreep asked Pearcy how he first met his former Ratt partner. “I knew Robbin from our teenage years in San Diego. When the band was still called Mickey Ratt,” Pearcy says. “We still had Jake E. Lee [later of Ozzy Osbourne‘s band and Badlands] on guitar, and Robbin would come in and jam with us from time to time. Once Jake left the band, I brought Robbin into the lineup. Together we laid down the foundation for what everyone knows as the Ratt sound. In those early years, Robbin was pretty much the main guy, but Warren was progressing so phenomenally that it was hard to ignore. You see, Robbin didn’t have an ego about it and was actually brave enough to say, ‘I think we should showcase this kid.’ Not a lot of guitar players would have done that,” Pearcy fondly remembers.Crosby and DeMartini made for a deadly twin-guitar duo. “Robbin had his own style, but he was definitely influenced by Billy Gibbons [ZZ Top] and Jimi Hendrix. He played with great feel. Warren was more of a noodler, a guitar hero type of player. They complimented each other so well,” says Pearcy.In addition to his musical style, Robbin Crosby also knew how to dress. If there was a look that captured the essence of an international rock star, Crosby nailed it. “He looked so cool standing on stage with his guitar,” says Pearcy. “The guy was 6′ 5″ [laughs]. They loved Robbin in Japan. He would walk around the streets there looking like some kind of heavy metal god [laughs]. He was a great-looking dude and the ladies loved him.
Prior to leaving Ratt, Crosby worked as a producer for the debut album from Lillian Axe.Crosby also attempted various musical projects, first (post-Ratt) re-uniting with San Diego friend, Phenomenon band mate and former Warrior/Atomic Playboys vocalist Perry McCarty, Krys Baratto, Dino Guerrero and Mark Lewis as an updated version of Secret Service, a moniker used by McCarty and Crosby previously for their pre-Ratt San Diego band. Later moving to El Paso in 1996, he briefly played with the Country/Western group Bill&Kev&War Party. One of his last projects was with former collaborator and ex-Ratt bassist Juan Croucier.
In a June 1999 interview for a Ratt episode of VH1's Behind the Music, Crosby talked about how drug addiction and his HIV status changed his life. "What has drug addiction done for me?" he asked. "It's cost me my career, my fortune, basically my sex life when I found out I was HIV positive."In 2001, Crosby publicly stated that he had AIDS and had been HIV positive since 1994. He had also been in and out of the hospital for eight years dealing with back problems and health issues associated with HIV. To occupy his time he became a Little League coach, and also worked on a guitar fan/collector project, which was to create a limited-edition run of Jackson King V "Big Red" replica guitars.
Crosby died in Los Angeles on June 6, 2002. Reported causes of his death include AIDS-related complications, and heroin overdose. At the time of his death Crosby had changed physically, due to a pancreatic condition that altered his metabolism; Crosby had gained significant weight since his 1980s Ratt heyday. He was quoted as saying in an interview just before his death, "Apparently my pancreas has given up and I'm not metabolizing food the way I should. It's real frustrating.... I have a roommate that probably weighs 150 lbs. and he eats a lot more than I do. It's not like I'm a pig or a slob."According to an autopsy report after his death, Crosby was 6 ft 5 in and weighed 400 pounds.
In a 1999 interview that was first televised in 2006, when Ratt's Behind the Music episode finally aired, Crosby stated, "When I die, nobody cry at my funeral, in fact let's all have a party; I've lived the life of ten men. I lived all my dreams and more."
Crosby's remains were cremated. His memorial was at Windansea Beach in La Jolla, California; friends and family on surfboards spread his ashes out at sea.