Robbin Crosby: A Journal Reflecting the Last Two Years of The Guitarists Life.

I’ve been a huge Ratt fan since I first heard them in 1984.  Ratt had some of the best music out.  Their last album, Infestation was phenomenal.  One person that’s often overlooked in Ratt’s history is the late Robbin Crosby.  I read this journal by Curt Dudley.  Curt spent a lot of time with Robbin in his last two years of living.  This is a long post and gives insight to Robbin and his thoughts and feelings.  It’s a great read about a gentle giant I met when Ratt was touring with Poison in 1986.  This journal doesn’t represent the opinions or views of All That Shreds. –Andrew Catania

Robbin Crosby Journal 2000-2002 Written by Curt Dudley, July 2002

I have been waiting for the right time to let some of this out. I have struggled with it since the day Robbin died. I wanted to express some of it publicly June 14th, 2002, at Robbin’s memorial service, but the pain was still too much to bear…I felt I would fall apart in front of the 200 odd people (mostly strangers to me) there…so I just stood frozen on the beach & didn’t say anything.

I met Robbin through Photographer Neil Zlozower. I had gone to Neil in search of some professional photos of Robbin in action with his cherished Jackson Guitars. I am a guitar collector and had acquired a few of Robbin’s guitars, and I wanted some good shots of ‘The King’ from the glory days of RATT with the guitars I now own….just makes having them that much more personal & unique.

In talking with Neil, he mentioned ‘Hey, Robbin is in the hospital just a few miles from here…I bet he’d sign these prints for you and in any case I know he would appreciate the company, just take him a bottle of Peppermint Schnapps if you go’. Hmmm….I took down the address & went the next day. Armed with a few prints, a bottle of Peppermint Schnapps and a silver paint pen, I went to see Robbin.

Meeting a King
‘Do I know you….????’ Is the first thing he said to me. He had that characteristic “King” tone in his voice. After explaining why I was there, we got to talking. Just some small talk & some superficial talk of the ’80’s & RATT. I was there about an hour and something happened to me that day…I left there with a new appreciation for life. Here was this giant of a man lying there unable to walk or even to sit up (he had just had major back surgery) and obviously in a lot of pain and very lonely…yet he was willing to talk with someone he didn’t even know. When I got up to leave he says …’Hey, pleased to meet you, would you mind visiting me every once in awhile’. I promised I would. I left there without any autographs…I just didn’t have the heart to ask.

I was not prepared for the wild ride of emotions I would experience over the next two years. I learned a LOT about what is important in life from this gentle giant. I’ll put them in sort of Diary form & only quote Robbin where I remember EXACTLY what he said. They are just snapshots of things I remember and only meant to offer some insight into the last years of his extraordinary life…

Robbin on Spirituality:
One day we started talking about Religion and Spirituality & he gave me his thoughts. “I wouldn’t consider myself religious, per se, I would say I’m more spiritual.” He explained it more in terms of ‘Karma’ and a ‘natural flow’ of things in the universe. I asked him ‘So do you believe in god …or not?’ He said “I don’t know, but one thing is for sure…You & I ain’t drivin’ the boat!’ …Classic King.

Robbin on RATT:
We often talked, naturally, about RATT & his thoughts about success, his bandmates & life the road. He had a lot to say about his bandmates…not all of it good. He would say ‘Listen to the EP…that’s the real RATT…we just got too polished after that.” He loved Warren, “He’s like my little brother” but he felt that Warren didn’t respect his playing after RATT had attained some success. As for Bobby, I asked him one day “If you could have ANY drummer play with you on your new project…who would it be?” His answer: “Blotz….he’s the best there is.” What did he think of Pearcy? “Pearcy is a punk and only cares for himself….he can’t even sing in the major live…we had a lot of problems with that on tour.” Juan was his favorite bass player and a very close & dear friend….although they did have their differences.

El Paso ’96 and War Party:
In 1996 Robbin was living in El Paso Texas with his girlfriend, Jolie Gregory’s, family. He had left LA to, in his words, “go & get well.” He was using heroin heavily, and things had not gone well for him, as a result, since he had left RATT. He accepted an invitation to go there and spend some time with Jolie’s family and just get away from LA for awhile. While living in El Paso, he started playing again…In a COUNTRY band!!! An all original ‘up-tempo’ country rock band It was called ‘Bill & Kev and War Party.’ I’ve never seen anything funnier or cold at the same time. I have the video from a Sept. ’96 gig. The King onstage with War Party at a local joint. Robbin seems rather subdued at first, but then after he warms up a bit, he proceeds to just RIP the most killer lead guitar through these country songs!! Picture Jimi Hendrix is playing lead through a Travis Tritt song, and you have the idea. Also in the video can be seen his beloved black labrador ‘Rosie’ mingling with the crowd. At one point during a song, the singer can be heard saying ‘Ladies & gentlemen, Mr. Robbin Crosby’ as Robbin begins a BLISTERING lead!! The crowd is just dumbstruck and looks as if they’ve NEVER heard anything like that before …at least not in a country song! Robbin was very proud of this band…not because of the quality of music or talent…but because it allowed him to regain some lost dignity & start playing live again. He said he was forever indebted to Jolie’s family for helping him get back on his feet & getting him in contact with the local El Paso music scene.

The Ill-fated 1996 Reunion:
At some point in late 1996, he got a call from either ( I can’t remember which) Warren or Stephen…”Get your ass back here, we’re putting RATT back together.” Robbin was extremely excited about the prospect of getting back to LA & putting the band back together. He sold most of his belongings to travel light and start fresh in LA. He boarded a plane for LA carrying only the clothes he had and a few carry on items. The night he arrived he met Stephen at a club to talk and immediately got a strange vibe from him. They talked, but Stephen seemed distant and cold. He spent the night at a friends house & met Warren the next day for lunch…he got the same vibe from Warren. Frustrated, he finally asked “What is going on …we’re gonna do this, right?” He said Warren said something about “Well… maybe we’ll let you play a few songs on the record.” Robbin said ‘What the FUCK??? LET ME play on a few songs??? I just sold all my shit to move back here to do this!!” Needless to say, the reunion didn’t happen. I asked Robbin “Well Why? What happened?” He started to tear up and stated that they thought he was “too fat and was still using drugs.” He was devastated and felt betrayed BUT…in typical Robbin fashion… he was realistic about it. He said, “Well I WAS overweight & still using…so I could understand it.”

Part II

Peppermint Schnapps and “Gasoline”:
It became a habit when visiting him at Hancock Park Hospital to bring a bottle of 90 proof (HAD to be 90 proof!) Hiram Walker Peppermint Schnapps. One of the first things I asked Robbin was ‘Why Peppermint Schnapps? SURELY you don’t LIKE it!’ He said, “Hell NO!…but it’s the only thing I can get away with drinking in here…the nurses can’t tell I’ve been drinking because it smells like I just brushed my teeth!” The nurses at Hancock Park were pretty strict about alcohol in the building, so we had to be careful. When talking about it around anyone Robbin would say “Hey, can you bring me some gasoline?” His code word for booze.

Isolation & Frustration:
I HATE hospitals, as most people do, but from the beginning, I realized that he was extremely lonely & depressed. He told me ‘Virtually no one comes to visit me….’ He told me that the first day and I vowed to make sure that he had company at least once or twice a week. If I couldn’t get away from work for a few days, I would ask a friend or family member to drop by if they could and just talk to him….that’s all Robbin wanted…someone to talk to. He was too proud to ask for help or charity.

He was in this place, confined to bed, 24 hours a day seven days a week for over two years. Realistically the place was just a dumping ground for seniors who were too sick or incapacitated for the family to care for. I must say, they did take good care of the people there, but it was a very depressing place to be…Robbin had at least 20 different roommates while I knew him…..I would show up one week & see an empty bed next to his and ask “what happened to Don?” RC would say “Oh him…he died yesterday.” This went on week after week & after a while, I stopped asking. I could see it in his face the effect it had on him, but he wouldn’t express it.

One thing that shocked me at first…totally SHOCKED ME….was that his family rarely visited. Robbin talked on the phone to “Momma” or “Daddy” almost daily, but they live in La Jolla CA (about 100 miles south of LA near San Diego) and are “getting up there in age” & didn’t travel to LA much. I sensed a lot from what Robbin DIDN’T say about his family, that he had put them thru a lot over the years and had “burned a few bridges.” He was….as usual…pragmatic about it & understood. His attitude was “Oh, its just too far for them to drive…” He didn’t ever say much about his family. One of the few things I know is, he was VERY fond of his father and “missed the vacations in Mexico with dad when I was a kid.”

Another thing that hit him hard was that the guys in RATT would rarely come to see him…despite the fact that they all lived within a 1/2 hours drive. He would talk to them on the phone, sometimes Warren, at times Bobby, at times Juan, and he would hint around that “maybe if you are in the area you could swing by.” They didn’t…

I’m not passing judgment on any of them. I’m sure they all have their reasons. He said to me one day “WHERE ARE all of my friends? No offense, but isn’t it sad that YOU are my best friend? I’ve only known you a year.” He had a way of cutting to the chase…. The only one of his old friends that did stop by often was his old friend “Zloz” …Neil Zlozower.

Nicknames and Mexican Food:
Robbin LOVED Mexican food and Sushi….those were his two favorites. A couple of his favorite places in town were the famous El Compadre Restaurant on Sunset Blvd and Casa Vega on Ventura Blvd. in the San Fernando Valley. I would often call him before stopping by to ask if he wanted lunch. He would say “Mmmm…Ropa Vieja from El Compadre would do nicely…” or “Yeah, Get me some Toro & handrolls (sushi) from Yamakasa on Highland.” He was a connoisseur of food, and the only thing he DIDN’T like to eat was…PIZZA!! I couldn’t believe it! He said “Nah…Pizza just plugs me up…for days!”

He was big on nicknames. It seemed EVERYONE had a nickname. Mine was “Schmengie” or “Schmeckel”…I had NO IDEA what they meant until weeks later. It seems they are Yiddish terms for the male organ!! We would be joking around & he would say “You’re such a Schmengie” One of the nurses at the hospital was “Speedy” or the next week it was “Rompopie” or “Lima Bean.” Another friend was “Bloomer.” All of them were meant as terms of endearment, and he had a million of them. A friend told me once that he sort of felt left out he didn’t have one!!

History Lesson:
One day he was talking about the ancient Inca Indians from South America, and I was fascinated listening to him tell me all about them…their culture, what they ate, how they lived, etc. Now I know he was well-traveled…but the Incas!?!!! I must have been staring intently at him because he stopped suddenly and said: “Are you OK?….or am I boring you?” I said, “No I’m just surprised that you know so much about them.” He said “Ahhh….you think I’m just some big dumb rocker who doesn’t know how to read!! You know, I’m reasonably intelligent for my size. I’m smarter than the average bear!!”

The Time of Day.
Looking back on my two short years knowing him, Robbin never ceased to amaze me with his intelligence, realistic outlook and pure honesty. He was not the sort to sugar coat anything….he would always tell you EXACTLY what was on his mind!! We were talking about RATT’s heyday and what it was like to tour the world & meet new people every day in different countries and I said to him, jokingly, “I bet that if I had approached you back then, as opposed to now, you wouldn’t have given me the time of day.” He stopped for a second and said VERY SINCERELY…”You know man…all kidding aside… you’re probably right…. but you have to understand… back then, I didn’t HAVE the time of day!!”

Rather than patronize me & tell me what he would suppose I would want to hear…he was honest, forthright and directly to the point. Thinking back on that, I realized just how rare that kind of answer is….

Tawny Kitaen & the Rumpleminze Incident: I stopped by one afternoon to bring Robbin one of his three new guitars, A bright turquoise Epiphone Wildcat. I had them because there was no room at the hospital to store them. I walked in & froze in place… A beautiful redhead was sitting next to his bed. I said, “You look familiar…” Robbin without missing a beat says “Duh…it’s Tawny, you idiot!” WOW! I have to admit having had a MAJOR crush on her back in the ’80’s (Remember the ‘Back for More’ video?) and there she was!!

We talked for awhile and she showed a genuine concern for his condition, she hadn’t seen him in almost ten years!! Whatever personal problems she may be having, I’m here to say she is a sweet & caring person. Robbin called her his “high school sweetheart” and “first and only true love.”

After she had left (Robbin had fallen asleep) one of the nurses found a bottle of Rumpleminze Peppermint Schnapps (a gift from Tawny) in a drawer and went ballistic.  So I told her I would take it away.

I had, some weeks before stopped bringing ‘gasoline’ because I realized I wasn’t helping him get any better by providing him with it. In fact, we argued about it. I told him “I’m not bringing you any more gasoline…it’s not helping you.” He said “Oh…so you don’t drink eh? Gimme a break!” in a very sarcastic & nasty ‘King’ tone.

When Robbin inevitably went to look for the bottle HE went ballistic because it wasn’t there. He exploded at the nurse for taking his gift. She didn’t tell him that I had actually taken it. Robbin mentioned it to me one day and I felt like crap… I said “She didn’t take it…I did.” He said, “Dude…that was a GIFT from a very special person…you had NO right to take my shit, and another thing, I’ll do WHAT the fuck I want WHEN the fuck I want to!!” Indeed. Naturally, I still had the bottle and returned it to him.

Here’s the kicker.

Robbin called me that night and apologized TO ME as if HE had done something wrong!! “Dude I’m sorry I shouldn’t have been so harsh.” That’s just the way he was.  I learned from him again, another valuable life lesson on compassion.

Sweet Rosie:
Robbin was a real animal lover. He once said, “I probably love animals more than I love people, they love you without conditions.” He was one of those people who just came totally unglued and would get all mushy when around animals…you know ‘Awwww…..look at that beautiful dog”. In the late 1980’s shortly before he was married to Playboy Playmate Laurie Carr, he got “Rosie,” a sweet-natured black Labrador, as a pup. Rosie remained his constant companion throughout most of the ’90’s and he talked about her often.

On one of our outings one day he saw a black dog sitting in front of a store and perked up “Oh my god…Is that ROSIE???….Rosie, here girl.” It turns out it wasn’t her, but I asked him “Whatever happened to Rosie?” He got real quiet & after a couple of minutes of silence, he said “I don’t know…I left her with a friend to take care of when I went into the hospital the first time….When I got out of the hospital, he said she had run away & I never saw her again, she was my best friend.” I could tell he was getting emotional and his eyes were moist with tears.

Part III

Getting up & Around…:
After his back surgery, it took Robbin quite awhile just be able to sit up in bed. He had been in bed so long, immobile, that all of his muscles had atrophied and he had put on quite a bit of weight also. He joked about it a lot. I would walk in & half the time he would have nothing on but his hospital gown…hiked up around his waist! He would say ‘Hold on let Jabba put the ‘magic mushroom’ away!’ You can guess what he was talking about! He had a well-known reputation as a nudist as I found out from stories I heard later at his memorial service. He constantly joked around & laughed about it…his spirit was unbroken.

3 or 4 times a week he had physical rehab at the hospital. The two rehab guys were known as ‘The Alpha Males’ by Robbin. They would come in & have to muscle him into a sitting position and then, with the help of a particular board, slide him off the bed & into his wheelchair. Those guys loved Robbin & didn’t even blink an eye when Robbin was frustrated and started spewing TORRENTS of expletives in all directions!

The rehab room was down the hall on the other side of the building. I would sometimes show up when he was in the middle of his session. I would stand back out of the way & out of his view & just watch. That was incredible to see him working HARD just to lift his legs off the ground in a sitting position. The pain & effort on his face were intense. At this point, he wasn’t even close to walking yet or robust enough to stand.

I would encourage him to do more. “the more you do, the faster you’ll get out of here’. He would say ‘Yeah, Yeah.I know I’m trying as hard as I can’. One day I overstepped my ‘encouragement’ & suggested that maybe he wasn’t trying hard enough. He let me have it immediately. “Don’t fucking preach to me! I’m doing the best I can!’ I was only trying to motivate him but I guess I hit a nerve with my comments. The King still was ‘The King’!! I took it as a good sign….

One day in November of 2001, I got a call from him ‘Dude, I walked today!! I took about 20 steps on my own!’. That was a MAJOR accomplishment for him. ‘Will you come down tomorrow? I want you to see for yourself’. The next day at 12:00 noon I went & watched as The King took about 20 more steps…with the help of a parallel bar setup. He was so overjoyed, tears were streaming down his cheeks. He said ‘I am getting OUT of here man…. SOON!’ .

‘Panda Claus’ and Christmas 2001′:
Early in December 2001, he started answering the phone ‘Panda Claus…Ho HO HO Ho’ in a very low ‘Jabba the Hut’ like voice! It was hilarious to hear….he did it EVERY time he answered in December. I thought he was just in good spirits and looking forward to the holidays….I found out differently. He told me ‘I don’t care about doesn’t really matter to me, It’ll be just like last year…alone in the hospital…big fun’. Despite his apparent depression, he was putting on the happy face when answering the phone…just so that he wouldn’t bring people down during the holidays. Typical unselfish King. ‘This Christmas will be different’….I thought to myself.

He asked me one day around December 20th. ‘Hey, I hate to ask but do you have a VCR I could borrow? I want to rent some movies, I’m sick of TV’. All he had in the room was a 9″ (!) TV that got only 3.5 channels. Invariably he was stuck watching ‘Oprah’ or ‘Judge Judy’ type shows all day. It was funny cause he would sometimes be totally engrossed in Judge Judy when I stopped by. He would say ‘Shh….wait a minute this is almost over, Let me see what happens here.’ Utterly comical & very un-King-like!!

I told him ‘Well no…I really don’t have a spare VCR…besides your TV doesn’t even have an input for one’. He said ‘Ok it was just a thought…I thought you might have an old one lying around’. I was lying to him…I had already bought him a 19” TV/VCR combo for Christmas. and I had put out the word to my family & Guitar collector friends. He started to get ALL KINDS of stuff in the mail, Movies, CD’s, Xmas Cards/letters, A small Xmas tree, flowers….even some frozen chocolate dipped Strawberries shipped from New York! All from people he didn’t know.

He would say ‘WHERE is all of this stuff coming from??? WHY are these people sending me gifts?? This is so wonderful…Do YOU know anything about it?’ I would just look at him deadpan and say ‘Nope…It must be your fans out there that love you’. He said ‘But HOW do they know where I am??’ The look on his face was priceless when opening these gifts…just like a little kid. He made me keep a list of names of everyone who sent something, no matter how small so that he could send out thank you cards.

My wife & I visited on December 23 and surprised him with the home cooked Steak & Baked Potato dinner he had said he was craving…my wife Tracy cooked it all up fresh & we left immediately so that it would still be hot when we got there. We took our 2 children, Erich 5 & Kayleigh 7 and they sang ‘We Wish you a Merry Christmas’ for him. He was in tears…as they were singing.

I talked with him late Christmas Eve on the phone & he was soo happy….just on cloud 9. Bobby Blotzer & his girlfriend (Misty I think?) had been there that evening to visit and had brought some excellent framed candid photos from the RATT days…you know those intimate/private shots of them just clowning around on tour!. Warren had also been by & they had had a WONDERFUL visit just laughing & joking around. Those two guys coming to see him at Xmas meant the world to him….more than any gift ever could. Just the fact that they cared enough to come & see him.

I wanted to tell them that at Robbin’s memorial service but I just didn’t want to intrude on their privacy that day…It was tough enough for them. This was my most meaningful/special Christmas EVER. A Christmas I’ll NEVER EVER forget. I never realized fully…giving is definitely a lot more rewarding & fun than receiving. I got my best gift ever just seeing him happy…happy like I’d not seen him since I met him.

Another life lesson from ‘THE KING’…

Part IV

‘King for a day’
December 2001 was a month full of hope & progress for Robbin. He was finally feeling better and his physical rehab was going very well. By new years day he was sitting up on his own and much more alert & peppy mostly because the doctors had backed off on his medication. On New Year’s day, he said to me ‘This year is gonna be the year of ‘The King’….the year the King comes back…I’m gonna show people I can still do it!’. I fully believed him…he was so full of confidence and energy all of the sudden. He had even written 2 new songs….

If December 2001 was positive for him….January 2002 was a month of contradiction, confusion, and sorrow for me. From January 4th -7th I had a friend in town from Chicago…of course a RATT/Robbin fan! He was looking forward to seeing the King after speaking on the phone with him a few times and sharing Christmas gifts/cheer with him. Robbin liked him already….just talking to him on the phone….and was looking forward to meeting him. He asked me New Years’ day ‘When’s Sully Comin?’ I picked him up at the airport the night of Friday, January 4th and LITERALLY while we were leaving LAX my cell phone rings….It’s King…’Are you guys comin’ tonight?’ I said ‘Well, it’s late, we’ll come tomorrow so you can get some rest’. He said ‘NO!…I want you guys to get tonight and watch a movie with me’

The first thing he says to Sully is ‘Hey man, glad you could make it….You don’t own any of my guitars do you?’ Sully, bewildered says…’Uhh… no’. King says….’Good. I like YOU then!’ …while shooting me a mock scowl!! We talked & joked for about an hour until Robbin fell asleep in mid-sentence around 12:00 am….we quietly left.

The next day was supposed to be a fun day….a memorable day. Robbin & I had gotten permission from his doctor to go out on pass!!!! We got a 5-hour pass. We had it all planned out: we were going to ‘El Compadre’ for lunch and then to the movies to see “Lord of the Rings’. He was soo looking forward to seeing this film on the big screen…he had read all of the books and was a HUGE fan of that series. He was also looking forward to getting outside that hospital for the first time in almost 2 years.

I asked another friend, Brad Kelley, to come with me & Sully just to make sure we had enough help getting Robbin and the wheelchair in & out of my vehicle safely. I was in a great mood because I recognized that this day was a big step in his recovery. He was going to get a taste of the outside world again. I was not ready for the 180-degree turn the day was about to take…

We arrived at 11:00 am and something is definitely wrong….Robbin was incoherent and sweating PROFUSELY. He wasn’t making any sense and kept asking for his father. I had left the room to talk with a nurse & Sully comes running out of the room saying ‘Get somebody QUICK…he’s passed out & turning blue!!’ Within 15 minutes the nursing staff had administered CPR, pumped his stomach & called 911. The paramedics were there immediately….They rushed him away to Cedars Sinai Hospital as the 3 of us were standing there in total shock. We stuck around to see if we could find out anything about his condition but they wouldn’t tell us anything. We 3 decided to go to ‘El Compadre’ anyway & have a few beers for Robbin….but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was just not right. What just happened?? He was fine last night….

Robbin was at Cedars for a week….He was not eating at all in the hospital and looked pale, withdrawn & groggy. He lost 20 lbs. That week. He told me that someone at Hancock had ‘accidentally doubled up’ his medication and that is what caused his problems. I was skeptical, I suspected something far more sinister had caused the meltdown…but I kept it to myself. I went to see him on Tuesday and brought with me his three new Epiphone guitars that had arrived that Monday. I thought they would cheer him up & maybe he could play them a little to pass the time.

He seemed uninterested, apathetic and very down. ”All I want to do is sleep. But I keep having horrible dreams so I can’t even do that’. His nurse there was WONDERFUL…I wish I remembered her name. She was so concerned about him and was physically beautiful on top of that!! I think she was 25 or so and had no clue who RATT was!! As always…He had a nickname for her ….’Florence’….as in ‘Nightingale.’

After getting back to Hancock Park, he seemed energized & started in again on his physical rehab with a passion….sometimes. For the rest of January, visiting him was ‘like a box of chocolates’…I never knew which Robbin I would be getting. The determined, energetic, hopeful Robbin, or the tired, sleepy, grouchy Robbin. He had started drinking again, but even that couldn’t account for the sometimes dreamlike state he seemed to be in. Then I found out that a few of his old ‘friends’ had started visiting him again. People from his past that should have stayed in his past…. for his sake.

Later that month, we had planned to order Chinese food in & watch the Superbowl together at Hancock Park. That morning just as I was getting ready to leave home, he calls….’Dude, I’m sorry…I’m at Cedars again.’ It was a repeat of what had happened on January 5th. Something was going on….

February/March 2002 and Light at the End of the Tunnel:
During these 2 months, he made solid progress, physically, and was getting stronger & stronger. One day in February we finally got to go out on our Pass. I was amazed when I walked in…he sat up and got into his wheelchair by himself…effortlessly. He was dressed in street clothes, shaved, hair pulled back into a ponytail & ready to go!! We had a beautiful day, we went for lunch at ‘El Compadre’ and when we got there he had another surprise for me….he said. ‘I’m going in there on my own 2 feet…get the crutches’ I thought there was NO WAY he was ready for that.. ‘Are you…sure???’ It was 60 long feet from the back parking lot to the tiny table…but he made it!! Immediately the 2 guys ‘Flaco’ & ‘Chiquito’ that had served Robbin since the RATT days came over…’Chiquito’ says ‘Robbin…you look soo good, you look clean, It’s good to see you’. He said ‘Gracias me Amigos, Dos Cervezas…por favor!’

After we had ordered Robbin told me a story about those two guys…’You know, when I was really down & out and didn’t even have the money to eat McDonald’s…me & Rosie (his black labrador) would show up at the back door & beg for a taco or something….they never refused me. I love those guys.’ Now I understood why he was so in Love with that place. We ate a fantastic meal & had a few more ‘Cervezas’ and even a few shots of Tequila….At one point I said ‘No, no…no more…I have to drive’. He ordered them anyway and ended up drinking them both! He insisted on paying the check…$20 food bill & $40 alcohol!! He left a crisp $100 bill and we left quickly. We had just cashed his Royalty check from ‘Wicken Music Publishing’ and he had a few bucks in his pocket…He was on top of the world. He didn’t have a lot of money but his generosity ruled over all….It almost seemed like a tonic for him to be able to give.

In March he started talking about getting an Apartment and began looking thru the papers & literature from some local places. He said ‘What I really want is one of these quaint local ‘cottage’ type houses…just a 2 bedroom…but I just can’t swing it without a roommate, do you know anybody??’ He ended up settling on a 1 bedroom Apt. in a local landmark of sorts…the mid-Wilshire district ‘Park La Brea’ involved…He said ‘Reasonably priced & reasonably fashionable, fit for a King!’ He made several more attempts at getting a roommate, including a friend from Seattle, but it just didn’t work out. He would say ‘I’ve got to find a companion…I can’t live alone’.

We started going out on pass regularly, looking for new furniture and furnishings for the place. We bought a set of beautiful black leather couches and put them on hold…waiting for the day he moved in. They were ‘Just like the ones I had in my house’. He had me on the hunt for some small oriental rugs to use on the hardwood floor in the living room area. He was scheduled to move in on April 1st…my birthday!!

Part V

A Day at the DMV
On March 22nd we went to the DMV in the San Fernando Valley to get him a California ID card. He had not had an ID or Driver’s License in almost 10 years!!! He was very nervous & uptight about going …but he had to get an ID in order to rent his Apartment. On the way there he told me why he was so freaked out about it…’Man I had a Ton of tickets that I never paid…they might not let me get an ID until I pay them, let alone a Driver’s license.’ He said he was prepared to pay all of them if necessary. We started talking about cars too..he says ‘I’d like to get a new car….I’ve been the seeing the TV ads for the new Daewoo ‘Leganza’…that would be perfect, only $139 a month.’ I burst out laughing and he gives me the furrowed brow and a ”WHAT?????” I said…’Oh man…the KING stuffed into a Daewoo…too funny! I can’t picture it!’

We get there, fill out all of the paperwork and go up to the window. The lady says ‘That’ll be $10 for your ID’….He looks at me in disbelief & I ask her. ‘Are there any restrictions on him getting a license?’ At that moment I say ‘license’ he gives me a TREMENDOUS kick in the shin!!! She looks it up on the computer and says ‘No…would you like a book to study for the test?’ He says sheepishly….’Uhhh….yeah’. I never saw a bigger smile on his face when we left there with his temporary ID…

We leave the DMV and he says ‘Let’s go to Casa Vega & celebrate!!’. He explains that Casa Vega is a Mexican restaurant he & his wife, Laurie, used to frequent back in 1991-1992. They would fly down windy Laurel Canyon Blvd. in his Ferrari into the San Fernando Valley from his home in the Hollywood Hills…about a 20-minute drive.

I’ll never forget this as long as I live…we are on the way and we see a 7-11 convenience store. He says…’Pull in there I want a Snapple.’ …’OK, what kind?’ he says ‘Any kind’. He takes 1 big drink and then pours the rest (about 80%) on the ground!! I ask ‘What….are….you…..doing????’ He says ‘Last time we went out to lunch they made me give a urine sample so that they could see if was using drugs out on my pass….they gave me an ass full of the alcohol in my urine….this time we’re gonna take precautions’. I still didn’t know what he meant. Duh….!

We pull into the Casa Vega parking lot which is kinda secluded behind the restaurant. He sits on the tailgate of my 4Runner and says ‘Gimme the bottle’. He proceeds to pull down his shorts right there & starts peeing in the bottle, in broad daylight!! I turned my back in horror/ embarrassment and try to shield him from the pedestrians walking down the sidewalk!! I hear over my shoulder…’Oh shit…here take this and empty some’ I take it and run around the side of the car to drain it…I look at him & he’s sitting there holding himself trying to stop the flow and….there’s urine squirting in all directions!!!!! He’s cursing & sputtering ‘Hurry up!!!!’ I get back to him & he’s apparently done….just one problem…THE BOTTLE IS NOW EMPTY!!!! He looks at me and at the bottle & says….’YOU SCHMENGIE!!!…you didn’t save ANY!!???!!!!’ He was ooooh irritated with me the rest of the day. He never let me live that one down….

The Envelope:
Robbin got an ‘allowance’ of sorts sent to him every month from his dad, Something around $400. Just some spending money….Robbin was vague about the reason for it…something about an old investment that was in his father’s name. In his last year, Robbin finally was eligible and approved for Social Security and he began receiving checks in the amount of $1050….the only problem was….he was bedridden with no bank account and no way to cash them, so he just held onto them.

One day in October of 2001 when he was finally able to go out on pass semi-regularly he called & said “Hey fuzznuts, can you come over & get me? We gotta take a ride” I was never much of a pushover, but he knew I would do anything for him soon….I said, “Sounds like we’re gonna rob somebody, do you need a getaway driver?” He chuckled his small, scratchy chuckle & said: “Yeah, actually I do!”

I wheeled him downstairs to the 4Runner, and he says “Awww shit, the ‘shoebox’ again???” He didn’t like the 4Runner because it was too hard for him to get up into it and once inside it was rather small for him. I told him “Hey, beggars can’t be choosers!” He said “OK, Open the back, I’m gonna lay in there like cargo” …and so he did, and he was much more comfortable!

“Where to?” and the answer from the back “Head for North Hollywood, 101 to the 170, get off on Victory” We arrived about 30 minutes later at a strip mall check cashing store. I started to get the wheelchair out, and he says “NO WAY….I want the crutches.” Not a good idea but I had learned that you didn’t argue with him when he had his mind made up.

We go in, and some Armenian dude behind bullet proof glass looks up says “KEENG, you BEEG muthafucka, where you been!!!” The next thing he’s out the door and hugging Robbin. King introduces me to ‘Koko’ by saying “KK meet my new chauffeur, Curt.”

Koko has been cashing checks for Robbin for ten years….because Robbin has no bank account and no ID….Koko was the only one he could turn to because he knew him. “So where the fuck you been??” Robbin says only “I’ve been all over…you know” and then he whips out a small stack of checks….7 months worth of Social Security and two small royalty checks totaling over $8,500!

We get them cashed, and we leave. About half way back while were on the 101 freeway in Universal City Robbin says from the back “Hey, you got the envelope, RIGHT??”. I said, “NO, I do NOT!” …a long pause. “You bastard, tell me you’re kidding…you got it RIGHT??”

“NO, Robbin I never had it, you took it from Koko.” He starts cursing and yelling at me, so I pulled over into the emergency lane on the right shoulder and opened the back. Right away I see a corner of the envelope peeking out from under him…he’s laying on the damn thing!!

I let him go on cursing and bitching with a smile on my face. Finally, he says “This isn’t funny, what the fuck are you laughing at!?!” I snatch up the envelope and wave it in his face like a dead fish, smiling.

His response was priceless. Deadpan he says…

“OK, that’s the last fucking time I take you to do a job with me!”

A Tough Day:
On April 1st he called to wish me a happy birthday, but I could tell something was up. We talked a little…. but he seemed depressed and VERY emotional. He had been drinking, and I asked him “Is everything OK?’ he says ‘NO!….I know it’s your birthday but can you come…I need to talk to you’. It’s a 60-mile drive for me to Hancock Park, but I went.

When I get there he is laying in the dark…sobbing quietly. I ask ‘What’s wrong??’ he says to me through the sobs ‘I need you to promise me one thing….I don’t know how much longer I have and when I’m gone, PLEASE don’t let people forget about me…. I’ve screwed everything up, my marriage, my career, my cars, my house, my guitars… EVERYTHING!!….I don’t want people to think of me as a junkie loser…please let them know I’m sorry’. It’s my turn to start crying and the 2 of us are sitting there in the dark in tears. I stayed there about 3 hours & tried to cheer him up without success. He fell asleep around 12:00 am & I left for home. I did make him the promise….

Fade to Black….
He finally moved into his Apartment around April 8th (I forget the exact day), and he began to settle in. It became apparent that he was not going to be able to care for himself 24/7, so a nurse was scheduled to visit two times a week. His medications were another problem…some of them the nurse could bring & others he would have to go to a clinic across town to see a doctor for them….the wait was usually 3 hours!

He seemed happy but a bit frustrated by his lack of mobility…still he was able to get around the Apartment in the wheelchair and even cook a little for himself. He caught a severe cold the first few nights there & also fell and banged up his feet pretty badly. I would call to see if he needed anything & he would always say ‘No….You don’t need to keep helping me…you’ve done enough’ I told him ‘That’s nonsense….that’s what friends are for’.

In early May I found out that his old friend Patrick had moved in with him…sounds great right? WRONG! Patrick was his former roommate & Heroin buddy. I tried to convince him that Patrick was no good for him & would only tempt him again. He wouldn’t listen…he told me ‘I Love him like a brother, and we’ve been thru a lot of together….besides, he has nowhere else to go.’

I knew right then that this was the beginning of the end….He would call once in awhile just to say hello, but it wasn’t like before. He did everything he could to discourage me from visiting him…’Oh not today, I don’t feel good’ or ‘The place is a mess.’ I could tell he was using again…his speech was slurred & he just didn’t sound good.

Late in May, he started calling me asking me if he could borrow some money…Now, I knew that he had around $9k in cash when he moved into the apartment only a month before. ‘Robbin….where did all your money go?’. He made some vague references about his ‘medication’ and ‘groceries.’ I would lie to him & say “I’m broke….now is a bad time, I’m sorry’. It just about killed me to put him off…but I was not about to HELP him destroy himself.

On the night of Sunday, June 2nd, he called & finally cornered me. “Hey, I need you to do me a favor…I need money for my medication….what I want you to do is take my Breedlove (Acoustic Guitar) and pawn it….bring the others to me here. I need at least $300, and I need it tomorrow morning’. I tried to talk him out of it, but he insisted. So I did as he asked….

I showed up at the apartment at 11:00 am with the $$$ and his guitars….

Oh my God, Please NO!! Please don’t let it be as bad as I imagined.

It was….even WORSE than I imagined. Robbin ‘King’ Crosby was sitting in the middle of the room, nude from the waist down in a dirty T-shirt, unshaven, unwashed and barely able to sit upright. He had gained even more weight and had grown a full beard. There were several LARGE open sores on his legs as well. He was white as a sheet & clammy with sweat.

He says ‘Awwww, come here & give me a hug….I’ve missed you.’ The room was a mess, everything you would expect from a typical bad R rated movie drug den scene. Bottles of piss, cigarette butts, dirty ashtrays & clothes, beer cans….just about every inch of the floor were covered in trash. The heat & stench in the room were overpowering. His beautiful apartment was a shambles…

He could see the horror on my face. Tears were streaming down my cheeks as I asked him just one question….’WHY?????’ He was trembling and turned away. He said, stuttering ‘Please… don’t hate me…please’. I told him that I loved him and could never hate him….There were no words left….nothing else I could say would change anything…I thought about trying to reason with him, but I knew that he wouldn’t listen.

I couldn’t stay…I just couldn’t bear to see him this way. I left quickly & in shock, knowing full well I probably would not see him again. I was frustrated & wanted to do something, but deep down I knew that he could not stop. He would not stop….His Demons were just too high.

The afternoon of Thursday, June 6th I got the call from my wife (I was at work) She was crying & just said ‘Robbin’s……..Gone.’ Even though I knew it was coming, it still hit me like a ton of bricks…I almost passed out. All of his hopes & aspirations for the future were now meaningless…all of the hard-won progress he had made in the last six months was meaningless….I just felt so empty. I still feel that empty spot.

On June 14th, Along with 200 or 300 other folks, I made the journey down to Windansea beach in La Jolla to say goodbye to ‘Robb’ as his childhood friends knew him. It was a beautiful San Diego California day, One like I’m sure Robb saw many, many of in his youth. The service started around 6:00 pm, Robbin’s father starting things off with a moving 20-minute tribute to special people in Robbin’s life. 10 or 12 friends got up & said a few words…some told stories. It was rather strange to see the 4 surviving members of RATT copiously avoiding each other…they didn’t even LOOK at each other!! BUT they were ALL there and I give them credit for at least saying goodbye. Warren was definitely emotional as he spoke about his friend. It looked to me like he wished he had done some things differently…but that’s just my opinion.

The sun was setting at the end of the service…A bright red ball of fire melting into the sea….The sun was setting on Robbin’s life too. He once told me ‘Don’t feel sorry for me…I lived enough for ten men…I did everything I wanted to do’. I’d like to believe that…I do believe that.

One thing I took away with me that day was the pleasant revelation that there had been SO MANY other people that had stepped into his life over his last 10 years to lend him a hand when he needed it. It almost seems like we were all part of a predestined ‘Team’ that passed along the reins silently so that King could be more comfortable…I felt more at ease knowing that so many people HAD cared…people that recognized a free & loving spirit…despite his flaws, we took him as he was…Warts & all.

I wish things could have been different, but I know that I am a better person for knowing him, As is anyone who had spent any amount of time with him. He just had a way of putting out that vibe…of Love.

Love you, King, I miss you…I’ll see you again.

Journal Outtakes-

Originally when I wrote the ‘Journal’, it was more than twice as long and after finishing it there were a lot of things that I felt at the time, were either too personal or not really worth including …also it was so damn long and I wasn’t even sure people would want to read the damn thing! Some of the sections were rambling and VERY long winded….Here’s a sample chapter that was removed.

The Envelope
Robbin got an ‘allowance’ of sorts sent to him every month from his dad, Something around $400. Just some spending money….Robbin was vague about the reason for it…something about an old investment that was in his father’s name. In his last year, Robbin finally was eligible and approved for Social Security and he began receiving checks in the amount of $1050….the only problem was….he was bedridden with no bank account and no way to cash them, so he just held onto them.

One day in October of 2001 when he was finally able to go out on pass semi-regularly he called & said “Hey fuzznuts, can you come over & get me? We gotta take a ride” I was never much of a pushover, but he knew I would do anything for him sooo….I said, “Sounds like we’re gonna rob somebody, do you need a getaway driver?” He chuckled his small, scratchy chuckle & said: “Yeah, actually I do!”

I wheeled him downstairs to the 4Runner, and he says “Awww shit, the ‘shoebox’ again???” He didn’t like the 4Runner because it was too hard for him to get up into it and once inside it was rather small for him. I told him “Hey, beggars can’t be choosers!” He said “OK, Open the back, I’m gonna lay in there like cargo” …and so he did, and he was much more comfortable!

“Where to?” and the answer from the back “Head for North Hollywood, 101 to the 170, get off on Victory” We arrived about 30 minutes later at a strip mall check cashing store. I started to get the wheelchair out, and he says “NO WAY….I want the crutches.” Not a good idea but I had learned that you didn’t argue with him when he had his mind made up.

We go in, and some Armenian dude behind bullet proof glass looks up says “KEENG, you BEEG muthafucka, where you been!!!” The next thing he’s out the door and hugging Robbin. King introduces me to ‘Koko’ by saying “KK meet my new chauffeur, Curt.”

Koko has been cashing checks for Robbin for ten years….because Robbin has no bank account and no ID….Koko was the only one he could turn to because he knew him. “So where the fuck you been??” Robbin says only “I’ve been all over…you know” and then he whips out a small stack of checks….7 months worth of Social Security and two small royalty checks totaling over $8,500!

We get them cashed, and we leave. About half way back while were on the 101 freeway in Universal City Robbin says from the back “Hey, you got the envelope, RIGHT??”. I said, “NO, I do NOT!” …a long pause. “You bastard, tell me you’re kidding…you got it RIGHT??”

“NO, Robbin I never had it, you took it from Koko.” He starts cursing and yelling at me, so I pulled over into the emergency lane on the right shoulder and opened the back. Right away I see a corner of the envelope peeking out from under him…he’s laying on the damn thing!!

I let him go on cursing and bitching with a smile on my face. Finally, he says “This isn’t funny, what the fuck are you laughing at!?!” I snatch up the envelope and wave it in his face like a dead fish, smiling.

His response was priceless. Deadpan he says…

“OK, that’s the last fucking time I take you to do a job with me!”

Here’s another deleted entry. This one was the first section written, the section before ‘Meeting a King’ but after the intro, at the Very beginning of the journal. It seemed rather irrelevant and rather silly because of my extreme ignorance, so I cut it out…the first of many chapters to go…looking at it now I guess it lends some perspective to the overall story.

Like a Dream
After leaving Neil’s, I started getting excited, thinking about all of the things I wanted to ask Robbin. I might not get a second chance to talk with him, and I wanted to make it count so I wrote a long list of questions so I wouldn’t forget anything.

They were mostly things related to the guitars I had, but also some questions about that magical time between 1984-1987 when RATT was on top of the hard rock world…one of the biggest bands from my home turf of Los Angeles.

I felt special because I had what I considered to be a ‘special ticket’ to go & see him. His close friend Neil Zlozower (whom I was also rather awestruck at the meeting!) had just given me ‘permission’ to go & see him…Neil said it would be alright, so surely Robbin would take a few minutes to talk with me. Hopefully, I wouldn’t stick my damn foot in my mouth!

I had a plan; I would shamelessly drop Neil’s name. You know, ‘Hey Robbin, how are you? I talked to Neil & he said it would be OK to come & visit.’

Even though I had been vaguely informed of his current situation, In my excitement, I pictured him just as he appeared on the cover of all those magazines back then, the larger than life presence and the leader of RATT. I figured he would look much the same….surely a little worse for wear because he had been ill….but still virtually unchanged.

It was August and a typically warm day in Los Angeles somewhere in the mid 90-degree range…bright & clear with some scattered billowy white clouds and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, what a great day to go & see Robbin, to finally meet one of my favorite guitarists of the ’80’s’.

Driving over, I checked & re-checked the address of the place ‘Hancock Park Convalescent Hospital.’ The Hancock Park area of LA is considered kinda upscale and ‘gorgeous’ so my mind conjured an idyllic setting with well-manicured grounds and lots of security. I initially drove right by the place, mainly because the area didn’t match my mind’s image of what it should look like!!

I doubled back and found parking on the street in front of the hospital…I was surprised, to say the least. It faced a busy, noisy street and there were no ‘grounds,’ just a plain looking entrance in a somewhat dingy looking building. This couldn’t be the right place. Could it?

I went inside, and a young, attractive Asian receptionist smiled and said ‘How may I help you?’ As I looked around the rather open & ugly lobby, I said ‘I’m here to visit a patient, Robbin Crosby’, half expecting her to tell me there was no one here by that name. Instead, she looked a little surprised and, handing me a clipboard to sign in, whispered ‘I’m so glad you’re here, he hasn’t had many visitors. Are you a friend or family?’

At this, I felt my eyes shift slightly as I fought to comprehend what she had just said….I finally blurted out ‘Uh, No I’ve never met him, he doesn’t know me.’ She said ‘Oh, well OK the elevator is there and he’s on the second floor, room 203’.

On my way up I thought to myself. ‘Something isn’t right, am I in the right place?’, Then the elevator door opened and I stepped out. I looked left & right and immediately felt disoriented because there were elderly patients everywhere I looked, crowding the narrow hallway. I had never been in such a hospital, so I was completely unprepared.

I walked toward a nurses station, and I felt I was in a surreal movie….elderly ladies were grabbing at me from wheelchairs, and old men were leaning up against walls seemingly catatonic or mumbling to themselves.

A nurse, without saying a word, pointed to a door near the end of the hallway when I asked where Robbin was. I walked over and with my heart jumping out of my chest, silently entered the room.

There were two beds; one was occupied by a senior man with sunken cheeks who merely looked at me blankly…I looked to my left at the bed closest to the door, and my knees went weak. My throat felt like it had suddenly closed & dried up.

I saw a man whom I didn’t recognize, a large man with long greasy, lank hair who was sound asleep and snoring gently. I stood transfixed slowly taking in the details.

The darker hair, the sweaty bloated face, the dirty stained hospital gown, the enormous body, the messy small table cluttered with all sorts of stuff, the two get well cards taped to the dingy wall, the faint odor of human waste, antiseptic and sweat.

It WAS Robbin Crosby, but my mind could not process the reality…

Without realizing it, I had dropped the paper I had brought with my questions on it….I stood for what seemed like forever trying to figure out what I should do….should I leave? Should I cough? Should I wake him? Should I ask a nurse for help?

In the end, I just stood there… looking from the quizzical look on the face of the man in the next bed, back to Robbin sleeping peacefully.

Robbin…… Is that Robbin? How can it be?? This is not what I expected…I suddenly felt very foolish and utterly stupid at my naive notions of this man and his very real state. This was not what I expected…this is not what I expected!!

After a minute I silently placed the brown bag containing the bottle of Peppermint Schnapps on the table and left the room. I don’t remember leaving the hospital…I just remember the tears I felt on my cheeks and the helpless feeling that I had somehow intruded, seen something too private…yet he never knew I was there.

To me, it was like a dream. Did it happen?

It took me a week to gather enough courage to go back…to try again.

41 Replies to “Robbin Crosby: A Journal Reflecting the Last Two Years of The Guitarists Life.”

  1. Thanks for posting this. The eighties were a great time and the music was great. I was in my twenties and had the good fortune to see RATT twice, 84 and 87 in Memphis TN. The King was always my favorite member and kicked ass live, so it was very sad to learn of his last years. Rock stars seem larger than life but are human just like the rest of us. RIP Robbin and thanks for providing the soundtrack to some of the greatest years of my life.

  2. Wow !! I knew Robbin from his days here in El Paso. He was renting a duplex across the street. He was not in good shape . But he’d come over for beers and I’d give him rides. I was a fan and had seen Ratt on a few tours. He was a nice guy.

  3. Man what an Awesone story about Robin. thanks so much for sharing. Robin seemed like a totally cool person. So sorry for his passing. I believe there can be a very good person underneath all the problems they have may be having and I believe Robin was one of those people.
    He didn’t want to be forgotten, with your story, I’ll never forget him !

  4. After the first ten words I was quite literally hooked. I grew up listening to Ratt, and still do. I knew he passed away and had heard it wasn’t pretty. Thank you for the insight into the last two years of an amazing mans life.

  5. An incredible insight into Robbin’s life, thank you so much for sharing this. It was such a fascinating read, many people will be so glad you published this. Thank you again and long live the ‘King’

  6. A great insight into a tower of a man, with demons, it was a truly reckless time and many others fell into this sad demise, close friends… A lot of us are greatful we saw the light….
    Robbin will never be forgotten, his music will live on….
    Long live the king, see you in Valhalla ???

    Great write up, thank you for sharing….

  7. If this doesn’t at least bring a tear to your eye than you probably don’t have any basic human feelings.

    We miss you, King!

  8. Man thanks so much for sharing that. I remember one time in the mid-80’s Ratt was playing in Tampa and during the day of the show they played a charity softball game against the DJ’s and staff on the local Rock station 95YNF, which was a monster station. The game was at a minor league baseball stadium called Al Lopez Field, which sat on the land where The Buccaneers stadium now resides. It was down the street from my high school and a buddy and I snuck out, changed clothes and went to the game. Before the game we went to the Mall that was across the street to get some food and we saw Robbin in a sporting goods store buying a pair of cleats. We were both too scared to walk up and say anything. The guy looked like a Giant Greek God and I guess we were outside the store just watching him try them on when he looks over and see’s us and just gave us a little wink & a smile. It was pretty awesome.

  9. I met Robbin in 1984, along with Warren & Juan. I did Artist Relations for Charvel/Jackson. The first time I met Robb I thought he was a tight end or a linebacker. Big guy. That’s one of the reasons the “KING V” looked natural on him because that model was also huge. He was always smiling. Warren was not as outgoing & Juan was a businessman, smart & funny. C/J endorsed all 3 of them. To me, Robb was more like Chris Holmes; big guy, blonde hair, full of life and usually a spare beer in their back pocket, even before noon. Robb was indeed full-of-life. He was also a better guitar player than many knew. For as talented as Warren was, Robb was a perfect compliment, although probably underrated. It was tough to hear of his loss; even tougher to see how/why. Then, today, I read this piece from Curt Dudley and it all kind of came rushing back. I’d like to compliment you, Chris, not only on an informative piece, but also for the kind of person you are. All that you did for Robb in his final days was beyond kind, beyond humanitarian. I’m sure there were days that you felt unappreciated, abused, confused and full of doubts. But what you did was something no one else would. You made a positive difference in the final phase of Robb’s life. You gave him some hope and, hopefully, some peace. Thank you for what you did for Robb. He was imperfect like all of us, but he was always the King. RIP Robb.

    1. Thank you Mr. Williams. I am happy you took something positive from it. That is why I wrote it in the first place….It was not easy to do when you’re breaking down every other sentence. Even 15 years later I cannot read it back without falling apart. It had to be done….partly for me but mostly so people could get a sense of the REAL man and not the Rockstar. Thanks again, means a lot. June 6 will be exactly 15 years since he left this world. Curt~

      1. Hey Curt, what happened to Robbins website? I thought you were in charge of that, it’s been down for a while now, it needs to be up so we can remember the King in all his glory!

  10. I loved Ratt growing up, most of all Robbin. When they came to Cleveland (Richfield) Ohio , I got to see the show and go back stage afterwards (dad was a cop). I met Robbin and was in awe of his size. Him and my dad were both huge men. Robbin asked my name and I told him. In my nervousness all I could blurt out was ” I like your watch”. He looked at his wrist watch and took it off and gave it to me. He said “I like it too.” I still wear that watch everyday. I can’t describe in words what a nice guy he was. Just so cool. When I heard he died I cried for the better part of an hour. So sad. I met him for 5 minutes but in those 5 minutes he made an impression on me that I will never forget. Truly a kind and generous guy. Thank you for writing this Curt. Nobody could ever forget King.

  11. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m still crying, just breaks my heart. You were a tremendous friend to him. Need more people in the world like you, especially in these times.

  12. WOW. You wrote an amazing piece which captured everything about Robbin. You were an amazing friend to him for 2 years until his sad passing. It broke my heart when he asked where his friends were & he described what happened to his dog. Everyone dreams about being famous but it has its down side. As I was reading your journal I was able to picture how he looked and how he felt. I believe he could’ve made a comeback on his own in rock or in country as you described. I only wished he stood way from the negatives in his life to see this happen. As a teenager, I thought he was the most stunning looking man I’ve ever seen. Thanks again for sharing

  13. I really enjoyed reading this a lot,what a kind,gentle,good hearted person “KING”was!And also,I’m glad to hear that you made his last couple years on earth special,you are a good hearted person like him and I will never forget the “KING “!!!!!!

  14. Thanks to all of you for your kind comments. It’s June 6, 2018, exactly 16 years since his passing. Always a tough day for me but I am heartened by the fact that you all, and so many others have not forgotten him. He’d be proud.

  15. Thank you for sharing Robbin’s story with us all. I remember seeing Ratt in 1987 with Poison opening for them in Pensacola, Florida. I was 13 and growing up way too fast. I started modeling about this time and met many of the heavy metal musicians famous from that era, but I never had the opportunity to meet Robbin.

    I can empathize with the struggle that Robbin went through because of his heroin addiction. I developed an addiction to opiates due to prescriptions being given for scoliosis and several surgeries and it eventually led to a heroin addiction. I was very fortunate to have a desire and determination to overcome that addiction for my daughter that I had at 22 and I had a supportive family. I believe Robbin had the same desire to be clean, but the drug consumes your soul and will ultimately win if the user doesn’t put themselves in a positive environment. (Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like Robbin’s roommate was helping to provide a positive environment.)
    My best friend named Wendy adored Robbin and was with me at that concert in 1987. She would have been so saddened, just as I am, to have learned the sad last days of Robbin. She also suffered with a prescription addiction, an alcohol addiction, and a bipolar disorder. The alcohol and drugs were a bad cocktail for her bipolar disorder. She had severe paranoia and extreme phobias. I had been clean for several years by this time and I tried everything I could to help her, but alas it wasn’t enough. In February of 2000, she went missing for several days and we could not find her. She was finally found deceased from a self inflicted gunshot wound from a rifle according to the authorities. Her father and I believe there could have been some involvement by the man she was seeing at the time, but I digress. She was found in the poolhouse where we used to hang out listening to our favorite bands and talk about our favorite rock gods like Robbin. My heart has been broken since that time. I spent years doing everything I could think of to help her. At times, it was frustrating and oppressive, but I would do it all over again. I miss her so much.

    I would like to personally thank you Curt for being there for Robbin when he needed someone most. You stood by his side and did not forsake him during his time of need. It broke my heart to know that Robbin cried that he didn’t want to be forgotten, along with learning how he never found his sweet Rosie. I am also an animal lover who has recently lost 2 dogs and a cat, along with finding out my beloved dog Scarlett has cancer that has spread throughout her body (She is 1 of 4 dogs that I still have…..I had 6 dogs and 1 cat until 2 of my dogs and my cat recently passed away). Robbin was right when he said that animals love unconditionally. I apologize that this is so long and my post is all over the place. I am just devastated to hear about Robbin’s last days.

    We as a society tend to have a nostalgic, romanticized image of musicians and other famous people. I personally got over being awestruck at a very young age because I met so many famous people through working and traveling as a model. I learned that they are just ordinary humans with the same battle scars and normal tendencies as everyone else. Despite knowing this, I am having such a hard time coming to terms with the Robbin I read about in this article. I can only imagine how devastated Curt must have felt to see the beautiful, blonde Greek God looking Robbin Crosby he remembered from his youth reduced to the shocking sight he beheld laying in that hospital bed. Curt, I know you said it took you a week to go back, but thank you for going back and becoming the friend and confidante he needed at that point in his life. I, like Curt, can also appreciate Robbin’s honesty when he told Curt he probably wouldn’t have given him the time of day back in the 80’s because he didn’t have time. You have to appreciate his honesty and think about the fact he was a busy man with very little spare time back then. Additionally, everyone wanted to be his friend back then because of his notoriety, so he had to be selective with “new friends” because many wanted to be his friend so they could use him for his money, fame, drugs, access to women, his famous contacts, etc. Many want to stand with you when you are on the mountain top, but if we fall there are not many from the mountain top willing to help us climb back up. I believe that Robbin missed being wanted and needed by people and that he used the drugs to push away his overwhelming sadness, loneliness, and frustrations. Once again, thank you Curt for doing everything you could for Robbin in his last days.

  16. Great read Curt! Robbin has always been one of my favorites and was not only my inspiration to pick up a guitar but also why i started and finished with Jacksons lol. To this day I still keep one of his picks in my wallet in a coin protector sleeve. Never met him or you but I am so glad he had someone there with him. Thank you for sharing this story!!

  17. Thank Brian!! Over the years this thing (journal) has just taken on a life of it’s own. It comes with a price though….lot of people love it and lots hate it but the good outweighs the bad thankfully! SOME people who shall be nameless take offense that I wrote/published it online in 2002, they feel I was somehow attacking the rest of the band and the truth is It was nothing of the kind. They are really busy badmouthing, labeling me an opportunist, an obsessed deranged fan, a ‘charlatan’. I say to them. Where WERE YOU when Robbin needed you the most? and Do you REALLY think this was about YOU??? I crops up almost once a year and really don’t give two shits….They can put me down all they want but…They can’t change the FACTS, by now everyone knows what REALLY went down. I think everyone knows the score. I say to everyone else don’t take MY word for it…DON’T listen to me…HEAR IT/SEE IT in Robbins own voice. Just watch Behind the Music and listen to Mitch LaFons ‘Robbins Final interview’ audio. I think they tell you all you need to know. Thanks

  18. Pretty despicable they made Robbin the fall guy and threw him under the bus on ‘Behind The Music’…..incredible when SEP says in regards to Robbin rejoining RATT in ’96….’it was obvious he couldn’t PLAY’ ….gimme a fukkin break. Such a LIAR covering his own ass…

  19. Hey Curt, just checked out the interview you just mentioned in your reply with Lafon! You could hear Robbin was still bothered by it but his outlook as to the project he had in mind was good. Shame there wasn’t time to see it come to fruition. Also listened to Eddie Trunk on 6/6/18 talking about how no matter what anyone says, Robbin was the heart and soul of Ratt! My favorite band and I was fortunate to see them every tour starting with Out of the Cellar opening for Billy Squier. Will always still keep his pick in my wallet as stated before. Ever get to Orlando would love to grab coffee and chat Robbin and Ratt!

  20. This is the 3rd time that I have read your journal & it affects me the same way every time. I have to be honest: I wasn’t that much of a RATT fan but I did notice Ribbon “right from the get go” & fell madly in teenage love. He was really the only reason that I did listen to RATT. I am sad to read of his final days…heartbroken really but it does help knowing that there was someone in his life that had his back as best as he could. Thank you so much for sharing this with us Curt.
    I do have a few questions. 1) What happened to all of Robbins guitars? Please tell me that he didn’t pawn all of them. 😢 & 2) Have you thought of writing a book about Robbin?

  21. Thanks Denise for your thoughts. Truly appreciated!! For that matter, everybody here who has responded has gone above and beyond out of your way to share your comments with me. Thank you all. As for your questions Denise, there is so much to say about both….I could write a book on just those 2 subjects alone!! A lot of it I have already written about in various places on Facebook and both public and private websites….even a radio interview. From time to time I still share things and answer questions on my own FB page. Thanks again for your thoughts~ Curt

  22. Wow, what a sad and amazing story Curt, your story of your time with Robbin really touched my heart. I’m 17 and Ratt are all-time favorite band, I love their style, music, and charisma, a true inspiration on me,but Robbin was the true heart and soul of the group, what led him to his fate was those horrible drugs and alcohol, was really disappointed how to the band never bothered to visit Robbin, I would’ve loved to have meet him and just spend time with him, he just seemed like a really cool guy, he was not just your typical rocker, he had something very sweet and special about him, his sweet personality is something I would like to possess. Wherever he is now I hope is safe, is doing well and continues to rock on, Ratt ‘n’ Roll forever, love you Robbin, be seeing you \m/

  23. I think I’ve lost count on how many times I have read this journal & it hits me each & every time. I would love Nothing more that to sit & talk with you Curt about Robbin. The stories would never get dull. Are you sure you don’t want to write a book? 😉 Can I send you a friend request on fb? Thanks again for this. I’m sure that I will read it many more times.

  24. I know I may be a little late to the party but Curt what great insight into a great man . Your journal tells the story brilliantly no matter how sad it was. I am not even a little bit embarrassed to say I was and still am a big Ratt fan from back in the days. Robbin was a great guitarist and a hulk of man . Eye pleasing to the ladies I am sure. To see him in that hospital bed the first time must have been pure shock to you. You should also be commended for being a great friend to a stranger , albeit a famous stranger. Hell had I known about this back then , I would have stopped by visited Robbin to shoot the shit and tip back a couple peppermint schnapps. RIP Robbin, gone way to soon and thanks again Curt for this unique insight into an 80’s hairband legend .

  25. I remember watching VH1’s Behind the Music. As I watched it, it felt as if the air had been pulled out of the room. Seeing and hearing just a small part of what Robbin had been going through tore at my heart. I”m sure they cut out a lot and took a bunch of liberties with what they did show. Now, after reading your story, it feels so much worse than that. Everyone tends to forget that rock stars are people. They suffer from the same heartbreaks and demons that the rest of us have, but are expected to cover them up and go on with the show, which is why so many turn to drugs and alcohol. It’s why so many die way too young.

    I’ve worked in facilities like the one Robbin was in. The people in them are usually just left there and forgotten. I’ve spent many hours visiting with patients because no one else would. I regret Robbin had to be stuck in a place like that, I want to thank you for doing what you could to take some of the pain and loneliness away for him.

    Of all the guitarists of that era, Robbin has always been and will always be, my favorite. I definitely have to say, without Robbin, RATT was never the same.

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