Sheryl Crow

Profile of the US star, from her early days as Michael Jackson's backup singer to global stardom. Crow has had a tough time in recent years, battling cancer and splitting from Lance Armstrong.

Sheryl Suzanne Crow was born to musical parents Wendell- a trumpet player and lawyer, and Bernice, a piano teacher.

Her family’s musical roots would directly impact on Crow, who began piano lessons aged five along with her two sisters. Taking to music easily, Crow wrote her first song when she was just 13 and eventually decided to study music at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

While at university, Crow joined a rock cover band called Cashmere which gave her a first taste of entertaining the masses. After graduating, she started teaching music to autistic children at a local elementary school. Teaching by day, Crow continued to perform at night by singing in another cover band, P.M., and also recording local advertising jingles.

In 1986, Crow decided to up sticks to pursue a full-time career as a singer and songwriter. Arriving fresh-faced in Los Angeles, she found work as a waitress while searching for music gigs in her spare time. Luck would have it that a successful audition as a backing singer for Michael Jackson would land her a place on his international Bad tour.

Touring for the next two years, Crow would regularly sing the female part on Jackson’s duet I Just Can’t Stop Loving You and when the tour came to an end, she resumed her search for a record deal.

During a six month slump in which Crow was resigned to the studio writing for other musicians, producer Hugh Padgham heard Crow sing and was so impressed that he submitted her demo tape to the now defunct A&M records. A&M liked what they heard and immediately signed Crow. However, Padgham was so eager to shove Crow into the limelight that her first commercial album was recorded in haste and the self-titled debut was shelved by A&M, who chose not to release it.

Crow’s then boyfriend, Kevin Gilbert, made attempts to remix the album and played the demos to Bill Bottrell, an engineer and producer for a studio in Pasadena. Gilbert, Bottrell, singer/songwriter David Baerwald, and a few other musicians soon began holding jam sessions at local clubs on Tuesday nights, and when Crow was invited to join in, the infamous Tuesday Night Music Club was born.

During these sessions, the group developed several songs that made it onto Crow's proper debut album, Tuesday Night Music Club, which was released in 1993. The album climbed the charts but a rift soon appeared between Crow and her Tuesday group members when she appeared on the The Late Show with David Letterman in 1994 and made a comment which suggested that the album had been predominantly credited to her, rather than the group as a whole.

The band parted ways acrimoniously but Crow was riding high on the album’s success, selling more than seven million copies in the UK and US in the 1990s and earning her three Grammy awards in 1995.
Unfortunately, success came at a price. On the Letterman show, Crow had suggested that the song 'Leaving Las Vegas', was autobiographical. In fact, it had mostly been written by David Baerwald based on a book by his friend John O’Brien (which also inspired the film starring Nicholas Cage). The comments further cemented the Tuesday Club’s anger that Crow refused to give them proper credit for their contributions to her album and not long after O’Brien committed suicide. In 1996, Crow’s ex boyfriend Gilbert was also found dead from autoerotic asphyxiation.

Keen to reclaim her innocence in all the trouble following the Tuesday Night Music Club’s release, Crow and Bottrell began work on her second album in 1995. Bad feelings hung in the air from the previous project’s sour feeling though and the two parted ways leaving Crow to produce the album herself.

Crow’s self-titled second album was released in 1996 and immediately the single 'If It Makes You Happy' was channeling the airwaves of radios all over the world. Putting to rest any debate over her songwriting abilities, the album was a critical thumbs up and it built its own cabinet of awards, including a further two Grammies for Best Female Rock Performance and Best Rock Album. Later that year, Crow was also passed the James Bond theme crown, singing the title track for 'Tomorrow Never Dies'.

In 1998 Crow returned with her third album, The Globe Sessions. The album seemed to be more a more traditionalist rock record than Crow’s usual signature style and it didn’t impact the radio waves in the same way but it did become her third straight platinum-selling top ten release and it won her another Grammy for Best Rock Album. Trying to add another string to her bow, Crow went down the acting route in 1999. Starring in the flop 'The Minus Man' with her then boyfriend Owen Wilson, Crow’s acting talent sadly failed to set the world alight and she bowed out gracefully to return to her musical roots.

A free concert in New York’s Central Park with other stars including Eric Clapton was released as a live album, 'Sheryl Crow and Friends: Live from Central Park' in 1999. Yet, apparently hit with writer’s block, Crow waited a little longer to showcase her fourth studio album but finally in 2002 she released 'C’mon C’mon' which entered the charts at her highest position to date- number two and quickly went platinum.

A greatest hits compilation was to follow in 2003 which included some new tracks amongst the familiar old favourites. The Cat Stevens’ cover of 'The First Cut is the Deepest' became a major hit for Crow and established airplay to rival 'All I Wanna Do' nearly a decade earlier.

Clearing room on the mantelpiece for yet more Grammy awards, Crow released 'Wildflower' in 2005 which despite receiving a two Grammy nominations, was met with mixed reviews and did not score as highly as her previous efforts.

Never one to make a public issue of her personal life, Crow’s relationship with cyclist Lance Armstrong was enjoyed in the media and their two-year relationship looked to be reaching new levels when they announced their engagement in 2005. The couple met at a charity event in October 2003 and began dating a short time afterwards.

However five months after Armstrong had popped the question they announced their sudden split with a joint statement: "After much thought and consideration we have made a very tough decision to split up. We both have a deep love and respect for each other and we ask that everyone respect our privacy during this very difficult time.”

The marriage would have been Crow's first. Armstrong and wife Kristin divorced in 2003 after five years of marriage and had a son and twins.

To add to her woes, in January 2006 Crow was diagnosed with early stages of breast cancer. In the same month she underwent minimal invasive surgery and doctors said her prognosis was excellent. Armstrong himself had also overcome testicular cancer when he was diagnosed at the age of 25.

Coming back to the limelight fighting, Crow returned to the public eye in 2008 with her album 'Detours'. 'Shine Over Babylon' was the first track released to the public and Crow commented that the song "is very environmentally conscious, in the tradition of Bob Dylan."

'Detours' was recorded at Crow's Nashville farm and features the singing talents of her adopted baby son Wyatt who makes an appearance on the song Lullaby for Wyatt. Crow adopted two-week old Wyatt in May 2007 and it was announced to the world on her official website.

She has released three albums since: 'Home For Christmas' (2008), '100 Miles From Memphis' (2010) and 'Feels Like Home' (2013).