The Arizona Republic
Aug 05 1999 12:24:21
Copyright 1999, Arizona Central. All rights reserved.
Paul Rodgers, whose soulful voice fronted the popular '70s rock act Bad Company, has
waited more than 15 years to "set the record straight."
After leaving the group in 1982 and watching others tour using the Bad Company moniker
without his distinctive vocals, Rodgers is ready to clarify who brought the magic to radio
hits like Can't Get Enough, Feel Like Makin' Love, Movin' On and Rock and Roll Fantasy.
Reached in Yakima, Wash., as the reunited Bad Company heads toward a Saturday show in
Phoenix, Rodgers admits, "I did become a little upset when they did not make it clear
to the fans that I wasn't there" in the Bad Company lineup of the '80s and mid-'90s.
But after a chance meeting a few years ago -- at a funeral, of all places -- the four
original band members decided to issue an anthology to mark a quarter-century since the
group's self-titled debut album took England and America by storm.
"I wanted to know that the band still had it, had what it takes," says the
49-year-old Englishman. "So going into the studio did two things: It created four new
tracks (for the hits disc) and told me that we could tour and support this."
The results include the radio-friendly Hammer of Love, which doesn't miss a beat from
the band's straight-ahead, Grammy-winning rock of two decades past.
The new tracks find Rodgers still laying down gritty, soaring vocals against Mick
Ralphs' bright, concise guitar work.
"The same sort of chemistry that existed in those old days exists now,"
The old days included arena sellouts, a record deal on Led Zeppe lin's Swan Song label
and aggressive management by Zeppelin's handler -- the late Peter Grant, whose funeral was
the catalyst for Bad Company's reunion.
"We were all mates together -- very Spinal Tap," Rodgers chuckles as he
recalls hanging out with his superstar label cohorts.
But the alcohol-related death of Zeppelin drummer John Bonham touched Rodgers, who
admits plenty of "fun and games" on the road in the '70s.
"I decided to take a rest from Bad Company . . . and was influenced by the death
of John Bonham. I had looked around and could see bands under enormous pressure."
Rodgers later joined ex-Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page in the Firm, a band that enjoyed
some radio and MTV success.
Rodgers forged a few other musical alliances, but as he prepares to release a sixth
solo album, his preference is clear: "For me it's very much more rewarding with the
"Currently, I have an American (solo) band," says Rodgers, who splits his
time among Canada, the United States and a 200-year-old cottage outside London.
But there's little doubt Rodgers also enjoys revisiting Bad Company -- which has no
plans beyond its 30-city tour -- on his terms.