From Bobby Brown to the Black Keys, Robert Randolph's musical evolution - Reverb

Long and Winding Road: Robert Randolph

Robert Randolph plays the pedal steel like no other. Photo courtesy of MySpace.

Robert Randolph plays the pedal steel like no other. Photo courtesy of MySpace.

Do you remember your first record? Your first concert? Your favorite artist from when you were that pizza face in sixth grade? Well this isn’t about that. This Long and Winding Road is about three artists/records that influenced you over the years –- you as a musician, legendary pedal steel player Robert Randolph. So let’s talk about your road.

“We went into the original library of American music and went back into the earliest forms of recorded music –- the slave field recordings, ‘Traveling Shoes,’ the stuff recorded in the early-1900s, ‘Dry Bones.’ We wanted to go back and listen to that stuff and see how we could fit it in my own original musical brain to see what would happen.”

12 years old

“Bobby Brown’s ‘Don’t be Cruel’ had that song and ‘My Prerogative’ on it. That and Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’ were the big ones around that time for me. It was one of the first raunchy records. He’s got girls and he’s dancing it’s R&B. It had great lyrics, and he’s going to do it how he’s going to do. It was a great time, because you’re getting into the girls and all that stuff when you’re young.”

15 years old

“I’d just started playing the pedal steel a few years before I heard Stevie Ray Vaughan’s ‘Greatest Hits’ album, which changed the whole way I played, the way I approached music when I came from the church. It got me excited about playing and wanting to be a different kind of player because of what I was hearing. ‘Pride and Joy’ and all these different songs –- for years after that –- even when we first started playing bars –- I thought ‘Voodoo Child’ was his song, not Hendrix’s.”

31 years old

“The newest Black Keys record is great. It’s just cool, what they did. There’s a lot of cool sounds, going back and finding these influential tunes –- they’re doing the same sort of thing as us. It’s all relative, and you can appreciate the same kinda vibe. They’re great guys and they do a great job.”

Robert Randolph and the Family Band plays the Ogden Theatre on Saturday with the Constellations opening. Tickets, $25, are available here.

Follow our news and updates on Twitter, our whereabouts on Foursquare and everything else on Facebook. Or send us a telegram.

Ricardo Baca is the founder and co-editor of Reverb and an award-winning critic and journalist at The Denver Post.