Steve Forbert (born Samuel Stephen Forbert, December 13, 1954) is an American pop music singer-songwriter. He is best known for his song "Romeo's Tune", which reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1980.
Even though it states that "Romeo's Tune" is "dedicated to the memory of Florence Ballard" on the sleeve of the album Jackrabbit Slim (1979), the song is not really about the Supremes singer who died in 1976. The song was actually written about a girl from Forbert's home town of Meridian, Mississippi, but was dedicated to Ballard because, as Forbert explains, "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."
Critics hailed him at the time as the "new Bob Dylan", given a similar vocal timbre and thoughtful songwriting. The front cover of his second album, Jackrabbit Slim, encourages such comparisons with its simplicity: a black and white photo of Forbert playing a well-worn Martin acoustic guitar with a capo on it, his shirt tinted green. The record was recorded in Nashville, Tennessee and produced by John Simon, who had worked with The Band. On the comparison to Dylan, Forbert said, "You can't pay any attention to that. It was just a cliche 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." Forbert has a cameo appearance in Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" video, playing her boyfriend.
In 1984, Forbert had a disagreement with his record company (Nemperor), which apparently did not want to release a recording he made. The record was shelved, and contractual issues prevented Forbert from recording for a number of years afterwards. Although he has never again recorded a song as commercially successful as "Romeo's Tune", his first recording for Geffen Records, 1988's Streets of This Town, has been credited with "intelligence and maturity that bested most of his previous work". His The American in Me follow-up in 1992 was praised as "equally strong". Both Geffen releases however were ineptly promoted, and Forbert's work there has been called under appreciated. Although his fame has subsequently waned, Forbert has made music "steadily ever since, writing songs and singing them, on CDs and on the road". His songs have been recorded by several artists, including Rosanne Cash, Keith Urban, Marty Stuart and Webb Wilder.