Also Credited As:Thicke, Robin Charles Thicke
|Robin Charles Thicke on September 15, 1977 in Los Angeles, California, USA|
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He was born Robin Charles Thicke on March 10, 1977, in Los Angeles, the second son of Canadian-born actor-presenter-musician Alan Thicke, best known as patriarch Jason Seaver on "Growing Pains (ABC, 1985-1992), and actor-singer-composer Gloria Loring, who found fame as chanteuse Liz Chandler on "Days of Our Lives" (NBC, 1965- ). In his early years, the couple was enjoying immense success as collaborative writers of TV theme songs, among them opening ditties for sitcoms "Diff'rent Strokes" (NBC/ABC, 1978-86) and "The Facts of Life" (NBC, 1979-88), but they would divorce in 1983. Not surprisingly, the young Thicke inherited his parents' musical predilections, learning to play piano in his adolescence and soon writing his own songs. When he was 16, Thicke began dating aspiring actress Paula Patton, two years his senior. His show business pedigree did open doors for his songwriting efforts, with Thicke seeing his early songs recorded by major label artists such as Brandy, Color Me Badd and Brian McKnight. On the radar of major label pop producers, he contributed songs and assisted production on albums by a veritable rogue's gallery of pop superstars, among them Michael Jackson, Marc Anthony, Pink and Christina Aguilera - all of it impressively by his late teens and early twenties. Wanting to be the one in the spotlight for once, he began working on a solo career. Going by the stage name Thicke, he released his first single, the R&B-flavored "When I Get You Alone," in 2002, along with its accompanying video, which unveiled him with long hair and a rugged ill-shaven look.
The infectious song - which sampled a discofied Beethoven's Fifth Symphony - received some airplay in the States and charted significantly better in some overseas markets, buoyed by its placement on the soundtracks of both the indie feature "Rules of Attraction" (2002) and the kiddie spy movie "Agent Cody Banks" (2003). On the strength of the song and his impressive pipes, he signed on with Universal's Interscope Records imprint, which released his first full album A Beautiful World in 2003, with a tastefully naked Patton on the cover. Though it did not sell particularly well for a major label release, Thicke continued to write for other artists - notably he contributed a song to and worked as a producer on Usher's Grammy-winning record Confessions - and began penning his sophomore album. Universal's Star Trak label released The Evolution of Robin Thicke in 2006, and the record went platinum in 2007, led by the voluminous airplay for the single "Lost Without U." The single and album took Thicke to No. 1 on the four (albeit largely overlapping) Billboard rankings of R&B /Hip Hop album chart, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop track chart, the Hot R&B Hip-Hop Airplay chart, and the Hot Adult R&B Airplay chart. Having married Patton in 2005, Thicke featured her in the video for "Lost Without U."
His newfound success vaulted him to Golden Boy status. He made a raft of TV appearances, including the standard rounds of late night talk/variety, as well as the "MTV Video Music Awards" (MTV, 1984- ), "American Idol" (Fox, 2002- ) and the "Soul Train Music Awards" (syndicated/BET, 1987- ). He also landed a plum slot as the opening act for Beyoncé's summer 2007 tour. Apropos of his eventful year, Thicke was nominated for a flurry of awards, winning the 2007 VH1 Soul/Vibe award for Best Breakthrough Artist and the Soul Train Award for Best R&B/soul album by a male artist. His follow-up CD dropped the next year, drawing on his multivariate influences of 1970s R&B, and debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart, as well as drawing favorable comparisons to Marvin Gaye. Thicke's song "Tie My Hands" was also picked up by fellow Universal artist Lil Wayne, who featured the song on his record-breaking triple-platinum album, Tha Carter III (2008), prompting the pair to duet on the song at the 2009 Grammy Awards. Thicke also contributed and produced a song on the eponymous debut album of Jennifer Hudson, which went on win a Grammy. Thicke toured with Hudson that same year.
Late in 2009, Thicke doubled down on the influence of Marvin Gaye further, as well as adding some hip-hop flavors, with the album Sex Therapy. Critics largely praised the record for delving more overtly into the sensual mood music for which his sultry falsetto seemed particularly attuned, which also saw the album accompanied by a parental advisory label. As a single, the title track went to the top of the R&B/ Hip-Hop charts. Thicke's fifth album Love After War bowed in 2011 and again drew tepidly warm reviews, some critics noting he continued to hit his stride in sexy soulful ballads without breaking any new sonic ground. He collaborated again with Lil Wayne on the record's second single, "Pretty Lil' Heart." In early 2012, Thicke made a minor foray into tabloid turf when New York cops spotted a joint in his SUV during a traffic stop and cited him. Thicke took a more regular gig on television later that year, landing on the all-star panel playing host to the competition show "Duets" (ABC, 2012- ), joining John Legend, Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Nettles. In a minor twist on the standard reality talent-show format, the show featured the song-stylist hosts doing their vetting of talent across the country in order to pick "ordinary" American singers with whom to perform duets in the studio phase of the show, the ultimate winner earning a record contract with Hollywood Records.
By Matthew Grimm