Foghat began their
career in 1971 as a bunch of rather unpretentious young Brits with
an affection for American blues and '50s rock 'n' roll. By the
middle of the decade, they had evolved into a major touring and
recording act, playing a pumped-up brand of boogie-rock to
arena-size audiences. Their looks grew flashier, their sound
fattened and filled out, yet the roots-rock core of the band
remained ever-present under the surface.
From the viewpoint
of certain critics, Foghat unduly compromised their early
blues-based approach in order to reap commercial rewards.
Certainly, their mid-'70s hits ("Slow Ride," "Drivin'
Wheel," "Stone Blue") were not aimed at the rock
purists of the world. But it's also true that they continued to
record traditional blues and R&B material throughout their
years with Bearsville Records. In fact, Foghat's final albums on
Bearsville reaffirmed their love for unadulterated, primal
Peverett (lead vocals, guitar), Rod Price (lead guitar), Tony
Stevens (bass), and Roger Earl (drums) all came out of the vital,
close-knit London blues scene of the '60s. Peverett (born in 1943)
first gained attention as leader of The Cross Ties Blues Band,
then served a stint with Swiss rock group Les Questions. From
there, he returned to Britain and joined Savoy Brown, who had
already established themselves with their "Shake Down"
album. As Savoy Brown's rhythm guitarist and, later, lead
vocalist, Peverett appeared on the band's "Getting To The
Point," "Blue Matter," "A Step Further,"
"Raw Sienna," and "Looking In" albums.
There was an LP,
released in '79 by London Records Collectors Series, called
"Before Foghat Days." This was an unknown album to most
people. According to the liner notes, during a break in the studio
while recording Savoy Brown's "A Step Further" album,
Dave, Tony and Roger started jamming, picking old rockabilly tunes
off the top of their heads. Unknown to them, the engineer had the
tapes rolling. After hearing the tapes they decided to record a
few more songs and release it as an album. It was originally
released in '69 as "Warren Phillips and the Rockets." It
is done in the old Sun Records style, and the original idea was to
write phony liner notes about the lost recordings of the
"legendary" Warren Phillps. It says 95% was recorded in
one take, a few songs being "Shake, Rattle, and Roll,"
"Money Honey," and "Matchbox." One song even
features a kazoo solo by Dave.
In early '71,
Peverett decided to strike out on his own, taking Savoy Brown
bassist Tony Stevens and drummer Roger Earl with him. With the
recruitment of Rod Price (another London blues player) on lead
guitar, the new group began to stir interest. Bearsville founder
Albert Grossman put the still-unnamed band into a London studio
for initial recordings with Todd Rundgren. Ultimately, Rundgren
didn't seem the right choice for producer, though some tracks he
recorded with the group were included on their debut album.
"Foghat" LP (1972) was produced by Dave Edmunds, whose
idiosyncratic style in the studio can be heard throughout the
album. "Dave was very much into early Elvis and the Sun
Records thing," Peverett recalls. "I loved the phasing
effects he got on the vocals. He wasn't scared to try off-the-wall
sound ideas." "Ubangi Stomp" was among several
recordings from these sessions that didn't make the album. The
track displays Foghat's often-underplayed rockabilly side, and
features Colin Earl of Mungo Jerry on Piano.
On the eve of the
album's completion, the band was still grappling with the choice
of a name. Brandywine Track and Hootch had been considered and
rejected. Finally, Foghat was selected. Peverett had made up this
nonsense word in a childhood game with his brother, and once tried
to convince Savoy Brown band mate Chris Youlden to change his name
to Luther Foghat. (Youlden failed to see the wisdom in such a
eponymously titled first LP reached #127 on the U.S. album charts,
with the single "I Just Want To Make Love To You"
gaining them a bit of radio attention. The band quickly followed
this up by recording and releasing "What A Shame," which
crept up to #82. Produced by Edmunds, "What A Shame"
would later be included in remixed form on their second album,
"Foghat" (aka "Rock & Roll").
& Roll" LP was produced by Tom Dawes, following several
disappointing sessions with Edmunds at the helm. Formerly with The
Cyrkle ("Red Rubber Ball"), Dawes brought a more
mainstream touch to Foghat's studio approach. (The album's cover,
dreamed up by filmmaker Robert Downey, featured a photo of a rock
and a roll in place of a title. A visual pun not everyone
Dawes was called
back to produce Foghat's "Energized" album (1974), which
included an R&B-flavored remake of Buddy Holly's "That'll
Be The Day" among its highlights. Though
"Energized" went on to reach gold status in the U.S.,
the band wasn't exactly happy with its production. "Tom Dawes
was really talented, but his musical tastes differed from
ours," Peverett says. "We wanted someone who understood
the feeling of our music a little more."
The band found such
a studio partner in Nick Jameson. Hailing from Philadelphia,
Jameson had become part of the Bearsville family when Todd
Rundgren worked with Nick's band "American Dream." From
there, Jameson became an engineer, remixing some tracks on the
"Foghat" album. He returned to produce and engineer the
group's "Rock And Roll Outlaws" LP (1974), from which
comes the melancholy midtempo track "Dreamer."
At this stage in
their career, Foghat had a fairly uneven track record. The success
of "Energized" was not matched by "Rock And Roll
Outlaws," leaving the band with doubts about their future.
Foghat continued to relentlessly tour the U.S., mostly as an
opening act. With four albums under their belts, they found
themselves a middle-level band purveying blues/rock to a market
that had moved away from such earthy sounds.
The band's fortunes
turned around with "Fool For the City" (1975), which was
their first album to go platinum, and introduced Foghat to the Top
40 radio with the hit "Slow Ride" (Best Of Foghat, Vol.
1). That same year, Stevens was replaced on bass by Jameson, who
adapted his guitar skills to the instrument after several weeks of
intensive practice. The revamped and revitalized Foghat had
reached the big leagues at last, though not without some artistic
sacrifices. "I think we started painting ourselves into a
corner with "Fool For The City," Peverett says today.
"There was pressure to come up with another 'Slow Ride."
Jameson bowed out
of Foghat to pursue a solo career, which later evolved into
acting, and did not tour with the band again. He was replaced in
1976 by a veteran bassist from California, Craig MacGregor. His
solid, driving approach to bass playing reflected Foghat's
increased emphasis on simple, aggressive boogie-rock numbers.
"Slow Ride' became a trademark song for us, and that was
where the music headed," Peverett says. "The band's
sound got bigger. We were playing larger venues, and that sort of
influenced our stuff. We wanted songs that would work in front of
Night Shift (1976)
continued the certified-gold success of "Fool For The
City," yielding the hit "Drivin' Wheel." "I'll
Be Standing By" (which reached #67) and a rocking remake of
the R&B classic "Take Me To The River" were also
released as singles. "Night Shift" was produced by
ex-Edgar Winter Group member Dan Hartman, who helped to nudge
Foghat even further in a commercial, airplay-oriented direction.
Foghat Live (1977),
produced by Nick Jameson, captured the band at the height of their
Boogie Monster phase. From the bombastic intro to "Fool For
The City" to the drawn-out treatment of "Slow
Ride," the album found them playing the roll to the hilt. The
album's version of "I Just Want To Make Love To You" was
released as a single and reached #33 in the U.S. "Foghat
Live" went on to earn double platinum status. "I thought
a live album would do well," says Peverett. "It pushed
us even further. That was as big as we ever got."
The band's next
studio album, "Stone Blue" (1978) paired them with
producer Eddie Cramer, who had previously engineered recordings
for Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. Cramer and Foghat didn't
collaborate smoothly, but the tension in the studio may have
helped to give the album an added edge. Besides the title track (a
Top 40 hit), "Stone Blue" contained a ferocious cover of
Robert Johnson's "Sweet Home Chicago," reasserting the
band's blues credentials.
Stone Blue went
gold, as did the band's 1979 LP "Boogie Motel," which
included their version of General Johnson's "Somebody's Been
Sleepin' In My Bed." Still, Foghat was getting restless with
the formula perfected on "Fool For The City."
Peverett, for one,
was drawn to the sounds of New Wave rock. "Punk and New Wave
reminded me of early rockabilly," he says. "It appealed
to me, even though I felt Foghat was part of what New Wave was
trying to replace. So I was kind of knocking myself in a
way."Tight Shoes from 1980 (featuring "Stranger In My
Home Town") was a tentative foray into New Wave. It was also
the last album Rod Price participated in until 1994's Return of
the Boogie Men. He was replaced on lead guitar by Erik Cartwright,
a versatile player who had previously recorded with Dan Hartman.
Foghat in time to appear on "Girls To Chat & Boys To
Bounce" (1981), which was produced by Nick Jameson, also
serving as bass player. A surprisingly credible effort in a Dave
Edmunds/Elvis Costello vein, yet tracks like "Live Now - Pay
Later" failed to win Foghat many new converts.
In The Mood For
Something Rude (1982) was largely an album of R&B covers,
rendered in a spirit of good fun (as evidenced by "Slipped,
Tripped, Fell In Love").
A similarly playful
approach can be heard on "Zig-Zag Walk" (1983), Foghat's
final Bearsville album. "That's What Love Can Do" was
among the stripped-down rockers in this set. Following Craig
MacGregor's departure, old mate Nick Jameson served both as
producer (under the nom du disque "Franz Leipkin") and
bassist/keyboardist (credited as "Eli Jenkins").
Walk's release in 1983, Craig Macgregor departed Foghat and was
replaced by Kenny Aaronson, who had to leave the group for medical
reasons. Aaronson was replaced by Rob Alter (former Guitarist for
the Ian Hunter Group), who also had to leave for medical reasons
the following year. Alter was replaced by returning alumni Craig
Foghat continued to
tour until early 1985 when Lonesome Dave retired to England after
some 16 years on the road.
members (Roger Earl, Erik Cartwright and Craig MacGregor) took a
brief break and along with Jim Robarge on Hammond B-3 & piano,
reunited as The Kneetremblers. Billed as "formerly
Foghat," The Kneetremblers played R&B until 1986 when
Robarge left the group and was replaced by Eric "EJ"
Burgeson on guitars. A few months later, The Kneetremblers, citing
both fan pressure and Burgeson's knowledge of the material (Burgeson
had auditioned for Rod Price's position), began touring as Foghat.
This band later became commonly known as "Roger Earl's"
Roger Earl's Foghat
went through a number of players over the next few years. Craig
MacGregor continued until the end of '86, when he departed to
record his own music. MacGregor was replaced on Bass by Erik's
brother Brett Cartwright (Joan Jett), who stayed until 1989 and
was subsequently replaced by Jeff Howell (Savoy Brown). Also
departing in 1989 was Eric "EJ" Burgeson, who left to
join Craig MacGregor's band. Burgeson was replaced by Phil
Nudelman who in turn left in 1990 and was replaced by Billy Davis.
The final replacement being Dave Crigger, who replaced Jeff Howell
on Bass in 1992.
In 1990, Lonesome
Dave Peverett reactivated Foghat as "Lonesome Dave's
Foghat" with new players; including guitarist Brian Bassett
(original Wild cherry guitarist and later Molly Hatchet), drummer
Eddie Zyne (Hall and Oates), bassist Stephen Dees (from Hall and
Oates) and later, bassist Riff West (10 year Molly Hatchet
bassist), hitting the U.S. club circuit once more. Lonesome Dave's
Foghat also included performances by Rod Price.
The two versions of
Foghat toured separately from 1990 until 1993. The original Foghat
was reformed in 1993 when Tony Stevens and Rod Price rejoined, and
things were patched up between Dave & Roger.
Peverett, Rod Price, Tony Stevens, and Roger Earl, the original
founding band members, toured with their studio CD, "Return
Of The Boogie Men" and the follow-up live CD "Road
Cases" (with Bryan Basset replacing Rod Price in 1999) until
Lonesome Dave's untimely death in 2000. They had returned to the
basic blues/rock sound of 29 years ago. Even at their peak as hit makers,
that was the essence of the band's sound. They remained true
believers at heart.