The Story Behind the Tragic Death of Robbin Crosby

There is something to be said about a person who is able to be honest about the life they’ve lived. One such individual was Robbin Crosby. The lead guitarist for a glam metal band that was very popular during the 1980s, Ratt, he was very open in the last years of his life about things like drug addiction and his battle with HIV. Unfortunately, those two things would eventually culminate to cost him his life.

You might think of it as a very sad story, but it’s also one about courage, bravery and the ability to see things as they truly are. Crosby was honest with himself and his fans about the way he lived his life. In fact, he went on record more than once to talk about his drug addiction and the fact that it had gotten so out of hand that it had cost him everything. Unfortunately, it would also play a major role in costing him his life when he died in 2002.

Crosby’s Early Years

It might be difficult to imagine that Crosby would eventually become one of the most popular metal guitarists of all time, especially when you look at his life when he was a teenager. In fact, he didn’t really seem to have much interest in music at all at the time. He attended public school in California, where his dad was a science teacher at the local high school. At the time, his interests couldn’t have been any further away from music. It was after he graduated and started playing with a local band that he developed a true love for playing the guitar. Obviously, he had plenty of natural talent. In fact, his talent and his desire to be successful allowed him to go further than most people ever dream of. Unfortunately, it came with a price.

Drug Addiction

Sadly, Crosby started experimenting with drugs and it wasn’t long before he was addicted. In fact, his addiction to heroin became so severe that it cost him the majority of the money that he had made over the years. By the time he died, he had very little left in the way of money or material possessions. He also openly admitted that it had cost him his career. There came a point when the addiction was so bad that he could no longer function, leading to him leaving Ratt. In the years thereafter, he struggled to get back on track but he never experienced anything even approaching that level of success again.

Health Problems

Crosby had been experiencing a number of health problems for several years prior to his death. He had serious back problems, so bad that he had been hospitalized a number of times. However, that wasn’t the only thing he was dealing with. As previously mentioned, he was HIV-positive and had been since 1994. As a result, he had had many health emergencies that were directly associated with HIV and had been hospitalized for them many times. In the eight years prior to his death, he spent almost as much time in a hospital as he did out of one.

Unfortunately, his efforts to get away from drugs were also unsuccessful and his overall health continued to decline. Eventually, his pancreas stopped working. This was largely due to the excessive amount of stress placed on it by HIV complications. About a year before his death, he developed full-blown AIDS along with a metabolic condition that stopped him from metabolizing food normally. The end result was that he could eat virtually nothing and still gain weight. In fact, by the time he died in 2002, the 6’5” former guitarist weighed 400 pounds. This placed a great deal of strain on his heart and lungs, something that would eventually play a major role in his death.

The Creation of a Perfect Storm

Unfortunately, Crosby’s condition continued to grow worse. He spoke out more and more about his struggles with drug addiction in the last several months of his life. Generally speaking, his body was slowly failing and he was unable to do much about the majority of it. Despite medical treatment, the condition with his pancreas was only getting worse, something that was slowly killing him.

As his weight continued to spiral out of control and his life went in a similar direction, he struggled even more with his drug addiction. Eventually, it all culminated in a situation that he simply wasn’t physically strong enough to survive. In 2002, he accidentally overdosed on heroin. His pre-existing health problems, along with the overdose, placed a tremendous strain on his body.

The complications he was suffering from AIDS had weakened him dramatically and the heroin overdose placed his physical health into a spiral that would be virtually impossible to come back from. Although he survived the initial overdose, he ended up in the hospital. The complications he was already suffering from AIDS also began to spiral out of control, despite the best efforts of the doctors to save him. Eventually, he developed pneumonia. This proved to be too much for his body to cope with. Crosby simply couldn’t get enough oxygen any longer. Eventually, this caused his heart to stop beating.


Robbin Crosby will long be remembered as a remarkably gifted guitarist, someone who possessed true musical genius. Unfortunately, he also struggled a great deal throughout his life. His struggles with drug addiction became something that would be a lifelong issue. Despite his musical gifts and his ability to understand the music business, he struggled to get past his own personal demons.

Eventually, it would seem that everything caught up with Crosby. Sadly, it cost him his life at a relatively young age, as Crosby was only 42 years old at the time he died. Perhaps that is precisely why he worked so hard to publicly discuss his struggles with addiction prior to his death. He knew what those struggles had done to him and it would seem that he was trying to prevent something similar from happening to others who might choose to follow in his footsteps.

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