Charlie Robison, the Texas singer-songwriter whose rootsy anthems made the country charts until he was forced to retire after a medical procedure left him unable to sing, has passed. He was 59.
Robison died at a hospital in San Antonio after suffering cardiac arrest and other complications, according to a family representative.
“It is with a heavy heart that I share the news that my husband, Charlie Robison has passed away today, surrounded by his family and friends,” wife Kristen Robison posted on Facebook on Sunday afternoon. “My heart is broken.”
Robison’s 2001 album, Step Right Up, produced the Top 40 country song “I Want You Bad.” Robison also served as a judge for one year on USA Network’s reality TV show Nashville Star. In 2018, Robison announced that he had permanently lost the ability to sing following surgery on his throat.
Robison launched his music career in the late 1980s, playing in local Austin bands like Two Hoots and a Holler before forming his own Millionaire Playboys. In 1996, he released his solo debut, Bandera, named for the Texas Hill Country town where his family has had a ranch for generations.
When he was approached by Sony in 1998, Robison signed with its Lucky Dog imprint, which was devoted to rawer country. He was featured on the cover of Texas Music in both 2001 and 2007.
In 2018, Robison announced that he had permanently lost the ability to sing following a surgical procedure on his throat. “Therefore, with a very heavy heart I am officially retiring from the stage and studio,” he wrote on Facebook.
He is survived by his wife, four children and stepchildren. He had three children with his first wife, Emily Strayer, a founding member of the country band The Chicks. They divorced in 2008.
Robison’s breakup with Strayer inspired songs on the 2009 album Beautiful Day. He recorded it while living across from the Greyhound bus station in San Antonio, in a loft apartment with mismatched furniture and strewn beer bottles, “the quintessential bachelor pad,” he recalled. “People come up to me and say they’re going through something right now, and it’s like this is completely written about them,” Robison said in 2009. “I wasn’t meaning to do that, but it’s been a residual effect of the record.”
Robison’s final album, the rock-tinged High Life from 2013, included a cover of Bob Dylan’s “When I Paint My Masterpiece.”