Robin Thicke - Biography
Before exchanging nuptials with Miss World 1990, Alan Thicke (composer, Growing Pains actor, author, game show host, and one-time homecoming king) was married to Days of Our Lives star Gloria Long. The marriage lasted 13 years and produced two sons, Brennan and Robin. Alan’s lengthy show biz resume was a tough act to follow for his boys, but Robin proved up to the challenge. Robin Thicke, born March 10, 1977, took a shine to music at an early age. While his father, who had composed a couple of TV theme songs including one for sitcom The Facts of Life, tried to instill a love for Bruce Springsteen in his son, Robin gravitated toward the R&B artists shown to him by his mother, including Luther Vandross and Aretha Franklin. Later, he stumbled onto rap and started discovering artists on his own. He enjoyed Kurtis Blow, Mary J. Blige, and NWA, and claims that he didn’t even begin listening to rock music until the age of 17.
Los Angeles-born Thicke began writing songs early in his life. At the remarkably young age of 16, he made an impression on Andre Harrell, the man responsible for Puff Daddy and Mary J. Blige. The Bad Boy Records president was floored by what he perceived to be an inherent soulfulness in the young artist. Taking Thicke under his wing, Harrell got him a job with Interscope Records, where he wrote songs for a variety of female artists including Christina Aguilera, Brandy, and Mya. He penned hits for men too, including Latin sensation Marc Anthony and ex-New Kid on the Block Jordan Knight. Thicke found the opportunity to record his own album in the early 2000s. Recording under his last name only, Thicke wrote or co-writing every track and played the role of producer as well. Interscope Records released his debut, Cherry Blue Skies (2002 Interscope), in the fall of 2002.
The single “When I Get You Alone” allowed Thicke to make a music video in which he sports his shoulder-length locks, quite a different look than the one his fans know him by today. The song received a decent amount of rotation on MTV2, but it did particularly well in Australia, Italy, New Zealand, and Belgium. Perhaps sensing a star in the making, Interscope reissued Thicke’s debut in 2003, this time calling it Beautiful World (2003 Interscope). Sales were better this time around, but not great. The songs Thicke had written for himself lacked the same commercial appeal as those he’d written for the likes of Aguilera. While his compositions for others were usually heavily grounded in accessible pop, he had taken a neo-soul approach in writing for himself. Beautiful World sputtered out in the Billboard 200 charts at number 152 and sold fewer than 65,000 copies.
Darkness descended upon Thicke in his post-Beautiful World days. He still found work as a songwriter and took on new clients such as Usher, but he was understandably confused and upset over the commercial disappointment of his own offering. The artist himself claims that he became well-acquainted with liquor during that time and was not above imbibing for breakfast. Fortunately, the period did not last long. In 2005, after joining Will Smith on a remix of the song “Switch,” Thicke found a new supporter in Pharrell Williams – the wildly successful producer and one-half of The Neptunes. Williams poached Thicke from Interscope and signed him to his label, Star Trak. More good news followed for Thicke when Lil Wayne recorded a revision of “Oh Shooter,” the first track off Beautiful World. Wayne put the song on his album Tha Carter II (2005 Universal) and appeared with Thicke in the video, giving way to plenty of who’s-that-guy publicity.
With The Neptunes’ support and Williams’ vote of confidence, Thicke began recording a brand new LP, featuring a wider variety of instruments and musical styles. The Evolution of Robin Thicke (2006 Star Trak/Interscope) was slated for release in 2005, but was pushed back to October 3, 2006, almost a year after “Wanna Love U Girl” was issued as the album’s first single. Some of Thicke’s steam may have been lost in the setback, but his album still sold astonishingly well, peaking at number five in the R&B charts. Such was its success that it was re-released in deluxe format, which sent its sales north of one million copies. The most popular song on the LP, “Lost Without U,” reached number one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts, making Thicke the first white male artist since George Michael to top it.
It had all come together for Thicke, who in the wake of Evolution, worked with 50 Cent, toured with Beyonce, and appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show two times within a two week time span. Needless to say, he had his work cut out for him. In 2008, Thicke and Pharrell went back into the studio. On September 30th of that year, Thicke released Something Else (2008 Star Trak/Interscope). His popularity was so enormous at that point that just about anything with his name on it probably would have charted. Fortunately, his third album proved to be his most accomplished and consistent, and the sales corroborated this fact. It peaked at number three on the R&B and Billboard 200 charts, and sold close to 140,000 copies in its first week alone. In 2009 he followed with Sex Therapy, Love After War in 2011, and Blurred Lines in 2013.