BAD COMPANY (Live at The Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle, U.K., October 27, 2016)
Photo: Mick Burgess

Bad Company are back on the road in the UK and Mick Burgess had the opportunity to catch up with Paul Rodgers to talk about Bad Company, recording with his son Steve, for the first time, returning to his birthplace in the North of England and his plans for the future.

You’ll be back over in the UK with Bad Company for a series of shows later this month. Are you looking forward to getting started?

Absolutely it has been six years since the last Bad Company Tour of the UK.

What sort of show do you have lined up for this tour?

To play the hits, some deep cuts and a new song that I’ve just written “Trouble Shooter”. When I come up with the set list I try to include light, shade and pacing the songs so that the fans join the journey.

You’re joined by original members Simon Kirke and Mick Ralphs. Who else is in the band for this tour?

From my Solo band, Howard Leese on guitar who has played in my Solo band for 16 years and bassist Todd Ronning who is also from my Solo touring band.

Mick had to miss all of the dates of your tour in The States with Rich Robinson from the Black Crowes filling in. What happened there?

Mick was under a doctor’s care.

You’re joined on the tour with Richie Sambora from Bon Jovi and Orianthi who was Alice Cooper’s guitarist for a few years. Were they handpicked for the tour or did the promoter suggest them?

We chose them. I have worked with Richie before on my Muddy Water Blues album and I felt that he would be a musically interesting opener for the fans.

The tour also features your son Steve and daughter Jasmine. Are they appearing separately on half of the tour each?

Yes. They both are launching new albums so we divided the tour equally. You may wonder how you do that with 9 shows? We had a local artist open the first show in Ireland. Also who gets to play the 02 was pre-decided as Jasmine’s CD launch party is the same night as Steve will play at the 02.

It must make you feel so proud to see your kids out on the road with you and up on stage each night?

Yes, I am super proud of their song writing, singing and stage craft.

The music business is such a different beast compared to when you broke through with Free in the late ’60’s. How do you think you, as a young Paul Rodgers, would make of starting out in today’s industry?

I’d follow Annie DiFranco’s lead and be an independent who uses distributors to get the music into the hands of fans.

What advice can you offer to your son and daughter and indeed, anyone making tentative steps in the business these days?

Be true to yourself. To that which you really believe in and have fun.

On 28th October you play at the Metro Arena which is the show closest to your birthplace of Middlesbrough. Are you looking forward to coming back up North for the show?

I always look forward to playing up north. The fans are a huge part of our shows in the north and have always supported us in a massive way.

Will you have lots of family and friends present?

Absolutely my daughter Natalie, her husband Michael and our grandson Sonny, plus any of my sisters and brothers that can come along are always welcome.

Is there something quite therapeutic for your coming back to the North where old friends and family treat you like a down to earth Northern lad rather than an international Rockstar?

Cynthia keeps me grounded as does my life in Canada. For me it has always been about the music, the fame is only a by-product. I do avoid the spotlight off stage, impossible to do on stage.

You live in Canada now, what do you miss most about the North of England?

My family and friend Peter Smith, we’ve been friends since we were infants.

They say you can take the boy out of the North but you can never take the North out of the boy. Even though you live on another continent you still have close ties to the area. A few years ago you received an honorary doctorate from Teesside University. That must have been a proud moment for you?

Yes, I was incredibly honoured to receive this. Graham Henderson the Chancellor of Teesside University, ranked the No 1 University in England at that time contacted me and I went up with my wife Cynthia for the ceremony. All my family from Middlesbrough turned up, it was a beautiful memorable day and a proud one for myself and my family.

What was the doctorate in?

Doctor of Letters in Literature.

You’ve also recorded a song, This Place Called Home, with your son Steve, to raise money for a baby hospice in Normanby called Zoe’s Place. How did you become involved in that charity?

I became involved when the writer of the song, Adam Dennis, sent me the demo and told me about the closure of the steel works and would I consider singing the song. I took the opportunity to sing it as a duet with my son Steve which is a first. I know that it is very hard on the families affected. My father worked in the steel works and I feel the pain this will cause. It doesn’t change anything but it does mark the passing of an era. The charity Zoe’s Place was chosen by Adam as it’s a Middlesbrough charity and my hometown. Put baby and hospice in the same sentence and that was enough for me to get involved.

Could you sing this one together on stage at some point on the tour?

I am playing the record in the pre-show music before Bad Company’s show. I don’t know if we’ll be singing it live though.

Being a Middlesbrough lad, you must be pleased that they are back in the Premiership. Are you hopeful for their prospects this season?

Absolutely, I wish them all the best.

Your music has been covered by many artists over the years. Ace Frehley from KISS has recently covered Free’s Fire and Water. What did you make of his version?

There have been a few covers of my songs as indeed I have sometimes covered other people’s songs, it’s always a great feeling.

What is the most unusual cover version of one of your songs that you have heard?

Oh I don’t know, Rod Stewart did a version of All Right Now so did Christine Aguilera and more recently “Bad Company” the song went to No 1 in America covered by Five Finger Death Punch.

You’ve been cited as a major influence on so many singers over the years. What singers are you listening to at the moment that have really grabbed your attention?

Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” is a great album and I do listen to albums on a turntable and I still listen to real soul like Otis Redding.

It’s been a long time since your last studio record. Is there a possibility of a follow up to 1982’s Rough Diamonds album?

Probably not a Bad Company album but possibly a solo album. The record company is re-releasing all of our Bad Company albums and have included a few gems that have never been released before. Warner/Rhino are very much behind it, they copied from the original tapes to vinyl for the re-released LPs, which is really important. So many of today’s are releasing LP’s but they are being copied from digital recording not tape, should be all analog all the time, and it’s not old school, it’s the school.

When your UK shows are over where do you head to next?

On December 8th I will be performing with Joe Walsh at Seattle’s EMP (Experience Music Project) where I performed last year both for and with Jimmy Page. They were honouring Jimmy for his many contributions to music as a producer, musician and songwriter. I played a couple of The Firm songs that we had written together after which we had a jam on Led Zeppelin’s song “Rock n’ Roll”. Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder who is also a pretty good guitarist and the founder of the EMP Museum also joined in. I think close to 2 million dollars was raised that evening for the EMP’s Children’s Music Program. So hopefully we can repeat that this year.

Other than Bad Company do you have any other projects in the pipeline going in to 2017?

2017 may include some US Bad Company dates and or some US & Canadian Solo dates. I am making that decision in the next few weeks.

Bad Company are currently on tour in the UK with Richie Sambora, Orianthi and Steve Rodgers in support.

Interview By: MICK BURGESS


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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