In the mid 1970s Crosby played in the San Diego band Mac Meda, Metropolis, Xcalibur and Secret Service. In 1980, Crosby was in the band Phenomenon which also featured Parramore McCarty later of Warrior and released one single. The same year he also recorded a live demo with the band Aircraft, which also featured Rob Lamothe, later in Riverdogs with Dio/Whitesnake/Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell.
Crosby joined the Los Angeles rock band Ratt, in 1981 just after the name change from Mickey Ratt. In 1983 the band finally scored a recording contract and Crosby would end up co-writing many of Ratt’s songs including “Round and Round”, “Wanted Man” and “Lay it Down”. The album Out of the Cellar went to triple platinum based on Crosby’s co-penned “Round and Round”.
Hunky Crosby was dating his high school sweetheart 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 and Out of the Cellar.
In the years that followed, Crosby would buy a home in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles, made 4 more albums with Ratt ( Invasion of Your Privacy (1985), Dancing Undercover (1986), Reach for the Sky (1988) and Detonator (1990) and married Playboy Playmate Laurie Carr in 1987, eventually divorcing in 1991.
Ratt disbanded in 91/1992 and Crosby formed the band Secret Service, while also already producing some Lillian Axe album work.
In 1993 he contributed to John Bon Jovi’s first multi-platinum solo album “Blaze of Glory”.
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.
The group split in 1992 and went on hiatus for much of the ’90s, re-forming in 1997 to release Collage and a self-titled album two years later, after which Pearcy quit the group.
In a June 1999 interview for a Ratt episode of VH1’s “Behind the Music” that never aired, 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.
“I had spoken to somebody … whose opinion mattered to me,” he continued, “and he said, ‘Do you wanna be remembered as the guy … from one of the premier groups of the ’80s? Or do you wanna be remembered as the guy who has a disease and who is dying out in Hollywood somewhere?’ I feel like if I can help just one person to avoid what got me into this maelstrom of hell then it’s worth it for me.”
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.
The 6’5” Crosby had also changed physically. Due to a pancreatic condition that changed his metabolism, the already strapping guitarist had gained quite a bit of weight since his ’80s glam heyday.
“Apparently my pancreas has given up and I’m not metabolizing food the way I should,” Crosby explained prior to his death. “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 weighed 400 pounds (180 kg).
Crosby died in Los Angeles on June 6, 2002. Reported causes of his death include AIDS-related complications and heroin overdose (suicide?).
Drummer Blotzer posted a message to his late bandmate — affectionately referred to as “The King” by fans — on the group’s official Web site last week. In his note, Blotzer called Crosby “one of the most kind hearted, the most compassionate, intelligent, talented” people he’d ever known.
Despite the band’s recent litigation with former singer Pearcy and strained relations, Blotzer thanked Crosby and the rest of his bandmates for the mark they made together and Crosby for his courage in the face of declining health.
“Never once did any of us hear King complain about his situation,” Blotzer wrote. “The man was put thru hell and never … ever bitched about it. … I can only dream of being onstage with him and the rest of us together again because that’s all it will ever be with him gone.”
Ex-singer Pearcy also put animosity aside and praised his former guitarist. “Robbin was a sweet soul, great talent and he will be missed. Rest in peace.”
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.”