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His song "Romeo's Tune" reached No. 11 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and No. 13 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Chart. It also spent two weeks at No. 8 in Canada. His other singles have all charted on Billboard. Forbert's first four albums all charted on the Billboard 200 chart, with Jack Rabbit Slim certified gold. In 2003, his Any Old Time, album was nominated Grammy Award in the Best Traditional Folk category. Forbert has released nineteen studio and three live albums.
Forbert's songs have been recorded by several artists, including Rosanne Cash, Keith Urban, Marty Stuart and Webb Wilder. In 2017, a tribute album, An American Troubadour: The Songs of Steve Forbert, was released, with covers of his songs by twenty-one artists.
In September 2018, he released his self-penned memoir, Big City Cat: My Life In Folk Rock, with editor Therese Boyd. It accompanied the release of his 19th studio album The Magic Tree on Blue Rose Music.
Forbert was born in Meridian, Mississippi. As a child, he fell in love with music, even playing air guitar in a pretend band he called The Mosquitos. Due to a fascination with Top 40 radio, he proclaimed himself a "music junkie." At 17, he started writing songs, and soon moved to New York City to experience the punk rock scene of the '70s. There he performed on the street to passersby in Greenwich Village, and had early shows as a singer with a guitar and harmonica at punk club CBGB before moving on to folk venues Kenny's Castaways and Folk City.
Forbert signed a recording contract with Nemperor in 1978, and they released his debut album, Alive on Arrival that year. While some, like Village Voice, called him "the new Dylan," of any comparison to Bob Dylan, he said, "You can't pay any attention to that. It was just a cliché back then, and it's nothing I take seriously. I'm off the hook -- I don't have to be smarter than everybody else and know all the answers like Bob Dylan."
Even though the sleeve of his second album Jackrabbit Slim stated that "Romeo's Tune" is "dedicated to the memory of Florence Ballard", the song is not really about the Supremes singer who died in 1976. The song, which went to No. 11, was actually written about a girl from Forbert's hometown of Meridian, Mississippi, but was dedicated to Ballard because, as Forbert explained, "that seemed like such bad news to me and such sad news. She wasn't really taken care of by the music business, which is not a new story." The piano part on "Romeo's Tune" was played by former Elvis Presley pianist Bobby Ogdin.
In 1984, Forbert had a disagreement with his record company Nemperor and contractual issues prevented him from recording for a number of years afterwards. His 1988 album, Streets of This Town, the 1992 followup The American in Me were released by Geffen Records. They received significant airplay.
In the years following, Forbert recorded more albums of songs he wrote and sang, accompanied by his guitar. He maintained a constant touring presence as well.
Forbert (r), with guitarist Mark Stuart, performing in 2015
Forbert wrote new music in support of the Occupy Wall St. movement He also began doing photography, using an old LG phone. An exhibit of his cell phone photographs opened at the Tinney Contemporary Art Gallery in Nashville in September 2011.
After destruction of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Forbert released a music video, "Sandy," to raise awareness about the storm and its aftermath.
In 2013, Blue Corn Music re-released Forbert's first two albums - Alive on Arrival, and its gold-certified follow-up Jackrabbit Slim. That year marked the 35th anniversary of the release of Alive on Arrival, and Forbert played that album in its entirety at a number of shows.Alive on Arrival was profiled as one of the greatest debut albums ever in the book Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself.
Forbert's memoir, Big City Cat: My Life in Folk-Rock (PFP Publishing, 2018), was edited by Therese Boyd and released in September 2018. The book covers his four-decade-long career. To accompany the book, at the same time, Forbert released The Magic Tree album on Blue Rose Music. The twelve tracks were culled from demos and new material, and builds on his pop and folk rock style. Joining Forbert on The Magic Tree is longtime accompanying guitarist Clay Barnes, and the album was produced by Karl Derfler.
in 2017 , Forbert received a cancer diagnosis. As a result, he had one kidney removed, received chemotherapy and today is cancer free.