One of the most
acclaimed bands of the classic rock era, England's Bad Company
has put its indelible stamp on rock 'n' roll with a
straight-ahead, no-frills musical approach that has resulted in
the creation of some of the most timeless rock anthems ever. Led
by the incomparable Paul Rodgers (a/k/a "The Voice"),
arguably the finest singer in rock 'n ' roll, the current band
also features from the original lineup drummer extraordinary
Formed in 1973, Bad Company came to life when Rodgers was
looking to start anew after the disintegration of the legendary
Free. His powerhouse vocals were a main ingredient during Free's
impressive five-year run; a period of time that saw the release
of seven extremely influential albums that featured Free's
minimalist blues-rock approach. Included among Free's dynamic
body of work is the 1970 smash, "All Right Now," one
of the most recognizable rock anthems ever recorded.
Rodgers had met Mott The Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs when both
Mott and Free had toured together. After jamming together and
listening to several new songs that Ralphs had penned, Ralphs
made the decision to leave Mott and form a new band with
Rodgers. The duo recruited Kirke and former King Crimson
bassist/vocalist Boz Burrell and christened themselves Bad
Company, the name inspired by the 1972 Robert Benton Civil War
film of the same name. Hooking up with Led Zeppelin manager
Peter Grant, Bad Company became the first band signed to
Zeppelin's Swan Song label. "I had to fight to get the
management and the record company to accept the name Bad
Company," explains Rodgers. "They thought it was a
terrible name. Peter Grant called a meeting and the band met
beforehand. I told them that I had been through this before with
Free as Island Records had wanted to call us the Heavy Metal
Kids. We agreed to go in and tell them that we were going to be
called Bad Company and that was the end of the story. As soon as
Peter heard how strongly I felt about the name, he became very
supportive and turned the record company around."
Bad Company was an instant hit worldwide. Their 1974 self-titled
debut went platinum five times over and featured the smash hits,
"Can't Get Enough," (a Number One single) and "Movin'
On" along with electrifying rock anthems like "Ready
For Love," "Rock Steady" and the title track.
Because of their association with Grant, a unique opportunity
arose for them when it came time to record that classic first
album in November 1973. "We were bursting at the seams to
get into the recording studio," says Rodgers. "Led
Zeppelin had a mobile studio together at Headley Grange all
ready to go, but they were delayed for two weeks. Peter Grant
told us that if we were quick, we could probably use the studio
to lay a couple of tracks down. We steamed in and put the entire
album down. Headley Grange was very atmospheric. We had the
drums set up in the hallway and the guitars in the living room.
We did interesting things like placing the vocal microphone way
out in the fields for the song 'Bad Company.' We recorded that
track late at night underneath a fall moon."
The eight tracks recorded at Headley Grange clearly defined the
band's stripped-down sound.Rock, blues and even country
influences were skillfully layered within songs such as the
beautiful Rodgers-penned ballad "Seagull," the
straight-ahead rock of "Movin' On" and "Rock
Steady." Also featured from those fertile sessions at
Headley Grange are "Little Miss Fortune," the brooding
blues rock classic "Ready For Love" and the previously
unreleased "Superstar Woman." While "Superstar
Woman" ultimately did not become part of Bad Company's
catalog, Rodgers' belief in the song never diminished. He would
eventually record a new version of the song for "Cut
Loose," his 1983 solo album.
"We were influenced by people like Jimi Hendrix, Cream,
and, to a certain extent, the Beatles," explains Rodgers.
"I don't think that Bad Company was particularly blues
influenced as a band, although I probably brought that in as I'm
such a huge blues fan. We were just trying to play what felt
good and natural. I think that is what gave us our identity as a
Taking fall benefit of Swan Song's visibility and Grant's press
and marketing skills. Bad Company made their formal debut at
Newcastle City Hall in March 1974. The rousing response they
enjoyed from fans and critics in the UK propelled the group to
America on a high note, brimming with confidence. "In
America, we opened for Edgar Winter," remembers Rodgers.
"The response to Bad Company was overwhelming, night after
night. When we started out on tour, the album had just broken
into the charts. Three months later, we were at number one. We
were received with open arms."
In the United States, Bad Company's popularity soared. While
some fans had recognized Rodgers' voice from "All Right
Now," the group's energetic stage shows wowed audiences
largely unfamiliar with the work of Free or Mott The Hoople. FM
radio devoured their debut disc, ultimately working "Can't
Get Enough," "Rock Steady," "Bad
Company," "Ready For Love" and "Movin'
On" into regular rotation. Rodgers' passionate,
soulful vocals were reminiscent of one his idols, Otis Redding,
and struck a chord with the group's rapidly expanding fan base.
"We always tried to be natural," says Ralphs. "We
would play soul and blues favorites at rehearsals instead of
learning new songs. My favorite guitarist, the man that inspired
me to play, was Steve Cropper. Simon's favorite drummer was Al
Jackson and Paul loved Otis Redding's voice. I guess we wanted
to be the MG's with Otis Redding. Basically, we played like a
bar band but soon it was clear that the bars were getting very
With a number one album to their credit in America, Bad Company
returned to London triumphant. "The end of our first tour,
the four of us were summoned to Peter Grant's suite,"
remembers Kirke. "We thought we had done something wrong.
We all went up to his room, coming in like toe-scuffing
schoolboys. Peter said, 'Now listen guys, it's been a long tour
and you've worked your asses off.' Then he paused for dramatic
effect and we thought, what the fuck have we done. He pulled
back this sheet that had been on the ground and said, 1 hope
there will be a lot more of these in the future.' Our gold
albums for Bad Company were there and he gave each of us
a warm embrace. It was a lovely moment."
Grant played a critical role in the group's early success.
"He spoke our language," Kirke says simply. "He
loved his artists. He made us believe in ourselves. It really
helped us that he had only one other act to manage and they were
the biggest band in the world."
Heartened by the response to Bad Company, the group hired
Ronnie Lane's mobile studio and had it installed at Clearwell
Castle in Gloucestershire, England in September 1974. "That
was an interesting place to record," states Rodgers.
"Where next after Headley Grange but an old haunted castle!
We had been touring very hard but we were still able to come up
with the goods in the end. By comparison, we hadn't done any
touring before our first record."
Bad Company followed up their initial success with the 1975
release of the triple-platinum album Straight Shooter
which contained the Top Ten smash ballad "Feel Like Makin'
Love" which also won a Grammy Award. "I loved Straight
Shooter" says Kirke. "Quite a few of the songs on
that album came along during the first year of our existence. A
lot of the songs on the first album had been done in 1973 before
we really had started, so we were always playing catch-up with
new material. We wanted to record a follow up album that really
validated what we had done on Bad Company." Other
tracks form the album, such as "Shooting Star" have
long since become concert and radio staples. "I remember
Paul was singing a few of the verses for that song in the
airport as we were going over to America to start our second
tour," remembers Kirke. "He had taken his guitar on
the plane with him and was tinkering around with the song on the
"I just started singing that lyric, 'Johnny was a
schoolboy...,' and I was thinking, that's a good song,"
continues Rodgers. "Where had I heard that? Then it dawned
on me that I hadn't heard it anywhere before. I quickly grabbed
a pen and paper and wrote it all down. The song just flowed out
of me. It wrote itself. I was thinking, wow, where did this come
from? Since then, people have asked me who it is about including
whether it's about (former Free guitarist) Paul Kossoff.
Actually, with hindsight, the song is about all of the
casualties of rock music because there have been way too
"Paul's ability to come up with good lyrics have always
enabled us to have rock songs with class," says Ralphs.
"I tend to write more simplistic songs, but believe me,
it's very hard to write a simple rock song on guitar that has
something special without sounding ordinary."
Eagerly anticipated by the group's fans. Straight Shooter
enjoyed international success, reaching number three on both the
UK and US album charts. The ecstatic response to the album
accelerated the group's momentum and their standing as one of
the most popular concert attractions in the world. "In
1975, we were able to come back and tour America as a
headliner," recalls Kirke. "It had been an amazing
"There was quite a bit of pressure on us being the first
artists signed to Zeppelin's Swan Song label," states
Rodgers. "Behind the scenes, we did take the mickey out of
each other mercilessly. We would stand on their side of the
stage and yell 'Rubbish!' and the like at them. We never did
shows together, but we did jam quite a bit. There was a real
rapport between the two bands."
"There is no doubt in my mind that without Peter Grant we
would not have reached the level of success we achieved,"
echoes Ralphs. "His clout and insights were essential to
our elevated status. He was a great manager and a lovely
The wildly successful Run With The Pack in 1976 was the
band's third consecutive platinum seller, fueled by the
infectious Top 20 single success of the Coasters' classic
"Youngblood." The band met in Grasse, France in
September 1975 to begin recording the album. Upon its release,
it soared to number five in both the US and the UK. With three
albums now to their credit, the central ingredient to the
group's remarkable success was their steady stream of first rate
original material. Rodgers and Ralphs were the group's
composers. "I always thought it was important for the group
to have more than one writer," states Rodgers. "If
there was any competition between us, it was always
Coupled with the strength of the group's songwriting was the
clarity and unmistakable power of Rodgers' voice. Rodgers moved
with ease among a wide range of emotions and musical styles.
"Silver, Blue & Gold" celebrated the group's
skills for ballads, highlighting a softer, more introspective
vocal performance by Rodgers.
The expanded arrangement of the album's title track effectively
incorporated strings. The group had previously experimented with
strings on Straight Shooter's "Weep No More,"
but Rodgers composed "Run With The Pack" with a string
arrangement in mind from the outset. "I wrote that song on
the piano and when I played it to the guys they fell right
in," detail Rodgers. "In my head, the strings were
always a part of the song. Jimmy Horowitz came around to the
studio and he was to do the scoring. Jimmy came to the session
with a tape recorder in hand and while the track was playing
asked me how I wanted the strings in the background. I sang the
part that I had been hearing in my head and he went off and
wrote it up."
"I'll never forget mixing the song with (engineer) Eddie
Kramer," states Ralphs. "We both had all hands on the
desk and were riding about thirty six faders, trying to do a mix
all in one take and get all of the parts at the right intensity.
In the end, we had to do it in two bits, as it was just too
Burnin' Sky,with its moody and atmospheric title track,
reached gold status in 1977, followed by the double-platinum
wallop of Desolation Angels in March 1979. "I think
we had exhausted the pool of songs by the time we did 'Burnin'
Sky,' admits Kirke. "That album was as good as the three
that preceded it, but I'll never forget one of the headlines in
the British music press. It asked, 1s there a crack in the sky?'
Looking back, we had done the tour, album, tour, syndrome for
three years and we were getting a bit tired."
Determined to reset their course. Bad Company gathered at Ridge
Farm Studios in Dorking, Surrey to record the superb Desolation
Angels. "Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy opened the album and set
the tone for what was to follow. "I remember walking into
the studio and Paul was playing this huge riff on the
guitar," remembers Kirke. "He had an octave divider
device on his guitar and the riff was great. We recorded the
song that day."
"I wanted to write an anthem which expressed my feelings
about everything in rock 'n' roll," explains Rodgers.
"I wanted to cover the whole spectrum, particularly that
rock 'n' roll was a magical illusion of colour and sound and
Another of the album's highlights was the rollicking "Oh
Atlanta." "That was Bad Company meets Little
Feat," laughs Kirke. "We always had a great time in
Atlanta and I think you can hear a bit of the country influence
in that song."
The group's affinity for country music was evident throughout Desolation
Angels. The western-flavored "Evil Wind" was a
noteworthy example. "'Evil Wind' was a strong track,"
states Kirke. "That was fall of Paul's
tumbleweed-across-the-plains imagery. I think Paul was a cowboy
or one of those bounty hunters in another life."
The wide approval enjoyed by Desolation Angels reaffirmed
Bad Company's commercial status. The album spawned the gold
selling classic, "Rock & Roll Fantasy," a staple
on classic rock play-lists everywhere. The band, led by the
soulful vocals of the charismatic Rodgers (who is also an
accomplished guitarist and keyboardist), toured the globe
countless times during this period, playing to enthusiastic
sellout crowds every where. But there would be a price to pay
for all of this success. According to Rodgers, "at this
same time there came a point when I felt the band and its
commitments had completely overtaken my life. I needed to get my
feet on solid ground and spend some time watching my children
grow. I never left music, I left the band." After the
release of the Top 30 album Rough Diamonds in 1982,
Rodgers left the band to take time off and to eventually pursue
an acclaimed solo career.
"Looking back, we stopped at the right time," recalls
Ralphs. "Paul wanted a break and truthfully we all needed
to stop. Bad Company had become bigger than us all and to
continue would have destroyed someone or something. From a
business standpoint, it was the wrong thing to do, but Paul's
instinct was absolutely right."
In 1986, Kirke and Ralphs resurrected the Bad Company name. Over
a six -year span from 1986 to 1992, this version of the band
released four albums including Fame and Fortune, Dangerous
Age, the platinum selling Holy Water and Here
Comes Trouble. The band released two more albums, 1995's Company
of Strangers and Stories Told and Untoldin 1996.
While the music was always consistently well played and tours
well attended, nothing could replace the writing, stage presence
and, of course, those one-of-a-kind vocals that Rodgers brought
to the equation. Fans and critics alike began to clamor for a
reunion of the original band and finally, it happened when
Rodgers got together with Kirke, Ralphs and Burrell in England.
The long awaited reunion came together in 1999 and saw the
band not only complete a rousing 30-date U.S. tour that drew
sellout crowds and much critical acclaim, but also oversee the
release of the acclaimed Original Bad Company Anthology
that year as well, a dynamic two-CD, 33-song overview of the
band's career released on Elektra Records. It features six
B-sides and outtakes including "Easy On My Soul" and
"Whiskey Bottle" that were recorded during the Straight
Shooter sessions along with an alternate recording of
"Do Right Woman" that, according to Rodgers, was
recorded live around a campfire. "Unfortunately, the fire
was sparking and crackling so we decided to go with the clean
studio version for Run With The Pack, says Rodgers.
"But with hindsight, it's a great track." Another
previously unreleased track is the Boz Burrell-composed "Smokin'
45" that was recorded during the "Burnin' Sky"
sessions. The Anthology also contains four new tracks
including the Anthology's two singles. "Hey
Hey" the first single hit#1 on Billboards BDS Rock Charts
and "Hammer of Love" reached #2.
The Original Bad Company decides to release an anthology in 1998
and to make it different Rodgers suggests adding new tracks. The
band adds four to the 33 song double CD. Elektra Records loves
the idea. Exactly 25 years after their debut Bad Company's new
single "Hey Hey" hits the #1 spot on Billboard's BDS
Rock Charts. "Hammer of Love" follows and reaches #2.
While in New York for a press conference VH1 tapes a
"Behind the Music and in May of 1999 a live pay-per-view
concert is filmed before a sold out crowd. For the first time in
19 years Paul Rodgers and Bad Company perform together. A highly
successful 30 date US summer concert tour follows. Mick Ralphs
& Boz Burrell retire from touring.
In 2000 Paul Rodgers released his 6th solo CD
"Electric" internationally on CMC/Sanctuary, JVC &
SPV. In it's debut week the single "Drifters" was
radio's #1 Most Added FMQB Hot Trax, #2 Most Added R&R Rock
and #3 Most Added on Album Net Power Cuts. Beating out Bon Jovi,
Deftones, Bush & ACDC. "Drifters" remained in the
top ten on Billboards MH Rock Charts for 6 weeks. A worldwide
tour followed including USA, England, Scotland & Australia.
This same year Simon Kirke toured the US with Ringo Starr and
his All Star Band. Mick Ralphs and Boz Burrelle retire from
In February of 2001 Paul Rodgers and his solo band tour England
& Scotland playing to capacity crowds. In the summer Paul
Rodgers and Simon Kirke of Bad Company co-headlined a tour with
Styx. They played 40 exclusive dates in the US and Canada. The
tour kicked off in Cleveland with a Media Conference and both
bands appearing at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Tickets for
the acoustic concert Sold Out in a record 3 1/2 minutes. At the
end of the tour both bands donated $100,000 to the Hall of Fame
for their fledgling Education Program. After September 11
Rodgers receives an email from Styx's Tommy Shaw who organized
"Volunteers for America" - "ROCK TO THE
RESCUE" what followed were two Sold Out benefit concerts in
Atlanta & Dallas. With TV's Drew Carey as emcee, Styx, Bad
Company and Journey to name a few raised close to One Million
dollars which was given directly to the victims families of the
2002 Bad Company's line up remains founding member Paul Rodgers,
original drummer Simon Kirke, Bad Company alumni Dave
"Bucket" Colwell on guitar and bassist Jaz Lochrie
(Roger Daltry, Pete Townsend ,Paul Rodgers) BC are signed to the
Sanctuary label and played 7 Sold Out Concerts in the US, 8 Sold
Out Concerts in the UK, and recently released a Live CD &
DVD Merchants of Cool. In September of 2002 Paul
Rodgers was invited to perform for England's Prime Minister Tony