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Larry Rodgers
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," Rodgers says.

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 solo band.

"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.

Related Links:

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Interview with Bad Company (GW)

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Paul Cullen,
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Run with the Pack


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