The Rowan Brothers emerged in 1971, opening for the Grateful Dead during the closing of the Fillmore West. Chris & Lorin Rowan had worked with their older brother, acclaimed musician Peter Rowan, and musician/producer David Grisman. The group performed a unique blend of rock, country, bluegrass, and pop music. Peter Rowan and Grisman had formed two key bands, Boston's Earth Opera (1967- 1978) and the San Francisco-based Seatrain (1969-1973) which released two critically acclaimed albums and a hit single called "13 Questions."
It was the elder Rowan and Grisman who decided to take Lorin and Chris into the studio and develop the songs they had been writing. The two became the object of a bidding war between Columbia Records head honcho Clive Davis and Asylum Records CEO, David Geffen. Davis won out and the duo released their critically acclaimed debut on Columbia. Eventually, Peter Rowan left Seatrain to work with Grisman and members of the Grateful Dead in a bluegrass revival act called Old & the Way.
The group faced a crisis, when, shortly after the debut LP was released, when Clive Davis was bounced from Columbia. The label, knowing they were his pet project, essentially ignored the Rowans, who fortunately got dropped and were quickly picked up by Geffen for Asylum. As a trio, they released a few more discs but nothing that would tip the scales from a commercial standpoint. Peter would remain an on-again, off-again member. As a recording entity, after a handful of albums on Asylum, they returned to the duo format of Chris & Lorin. The duo and its band still reside in San Francisco and have had considerable success as songwriters. Their material has been recorded by acts such as Jefferson Starship and bluegrass icon Ricky Skaggs, who won a Grammy for his album that included a cover of the Rowans' "Soldier Of The Cross."