BlackHawk l-r Randy, Mike, Chris, Henry & Dave Experienced musicians Henry Paul, Dave Robbins and Van Stephenson joined forces in 1993 to form country-rock trio BlackHawk. Lead vocalist Paul had previously performed with country-rock band The Outlaws, and keyboardist Robbins and guitarist Stephenson had penned songs for Poco, Kenny Rogers, Eric Clapton, Dan Seals and Restless Heart. The band's self-titled debut album, released in 1994 on Arista Records, produced five Top 10 hits, including "Goodbye Says It All," "Every Once in a While," "I Sure Can Smell the Rain," "Down in Flames" and "That's Just About Right." The album would eventually sell 2 million copies.
A series of acoustic dates on the West Coast with Hal Ketchum and Suzy Bogguss led to the first cross-country tour, then to an opening-act slot on Tim McGraw's national tour. By the time of Nashville's Fan Fair of 1994, BlackHawk's on stage energy and in-your-face delivery were creating a buzz. "I remember that we followed Alan Jackson on the Fan Fair stage," recalls Paul. "The volume was up, the band was pumpin' and the people were into it. It was like country music on steroids. It was something different." The trio's second album, Strong Enough, was issued in late 1995. The gold-selling collection produced two Top 5 hits, "I'm Not Strong Enough to Say No" and "Like There Ain't No Yesterday." The band was named Star of Tomorrow at the 1995 fan-voted TNN/Music City News Country Awards. BlackHawk released Love & Gravity in 1997 and The Sky's the Limit in 1998. In February 1999, founding member Stephenson was diagnosed with skin cancer and left the band later that year to recuperate and spend more time with hits family. Paul and Robbins continued to perform under the BlackHawk name, releasing "I Need You All the Time," a new song included on 2000's BlackHawk Greatest Hits. Stephenson, 47, lost his battle with melanoma on April 9, 2001, when he died at his Nashville home. BlackHawk has continued to record and tour although the act is no longer affiliated with Arista Records.