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Bad Company's Paul Rodgers

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As one of rock 'n roll's most distinctive vocalists, Paul Rodgers first came to prominence in 1968 as a member of the seminal blues group Free, a youthful Rodgers had struggled to establish a foothold within London's highly competitive music scene. He was ready to return home before an act of fate reversed his fortunes. "I came down from Middlesborough, the industrial heartland of the North East of England, with a band called the Roadrunners", remembers Rodgers. "We changed our name to the Wild Flowers. We had come to London to hit the big time and promptly starved! We were on the road to a gig that was going to pay thirty quid - which was really big money for us - but we had forgotten to put oil in the engine and it seized up on the way. That was the final straw. Everybody got out of the van and started hitching home. I was actually on my way home with them, but I suddenly thought, 'You know, I don't want to go back home'. So I walked across the road and started hitching back the other way. That was the 'crossroads' for my career. Determined to establish himself, Rodgers returned to London and formed the blues band Brown Sugar. Soon after the group began, his dynamic voice was recognised by guitarist Paul Kossoff. Kossoff jammed with Rodgers and Brown Sugar at the Fickle Pickle, a pub in London's Finsbury Park. Kossoff was so impressed that he and Rodgers decided to create a new entity. Joined by drummer Simon Kirke, Kossoff's partner in Black Cat Bones, and bassist Andy Fraser, fresh from John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, this new group was named Free by noted British blues pioneer Alexis Korner.

Beginning in 1968's 'Tons of Sobs' and extending through 1973's 'Heartbreaker', Free joined Cream and Led Zeppelin as leaders of the British blues revival. Free's winning combination of blues, ballads and rock won them wide praise and an international following. That popularity continues today, as 'All Right Now', the group's signature song, was recently recognised by ASCAP for garnering more than one million radio plays in the United States alone.

When Free disbanded in 1973, Rodgers formed Bad Company with Mott the Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs. Together they auditioned players and settled on former King Crimson bassist Boz Burrell and drummer Simon Kirke. Paul approached Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant who signed the group to Zeppelin's newly formed Swan Song Records and Rodgers came up with the name 'Bad Company'. His idea was met with resistance from the band, management and the record company. Rodgers stuck to his guns and so Bad Company it was. 'Bad Company', their 1974 debut album, enjoyed international success. "'Bad Company' took off like a rocket in the US," remembers Rodgers. "When we started our first US tour, the album was ninety-nine in the charts. By the time we worked our way across America it hit number one".

One of the most popular of all rock bands, Rodgers' six multi-platinum albums with Bad Company have spawned such enduring radio classics as 'Rock 'n Roll Fantasy', 'Shooting Star', 'Run With The Pack', and 'Rock Steady', all written by Paul Rodgers. A note of interest, on 'Rock 'n Roll Fantasy' Paul played all of the guitar parts. The group's popular greatest hits compilation '10 From 6' remains an essential primer for fans throughout the world.

Since leaving Bad Company, Rodgers has maintained a high profile. Following 'Cut Loose' his 1983 solo effort, Rodgers formed The Firm, a popular partnership with former Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page. Rodgers and Page had first collaborated on the Bill Wyman organised 'Willie And The Poor Boys' album. That successful union led to their joint billing on the US leg of the historic ARMS tour. At the tour's conclusion, the two formed The Firm with bassist Tony Franklin and former AC/DC drummer Chris Slade. Fuelled by the popularity of such singles as 'Radioactive', 'Satisfaction Guaranteed' and 'All The King's Horses', 'The Firm' and 'Mean Business', the group's two albums, enjoyed international success. Most fans know that Paul wrote 'Radioactive', not many know that he played the guitar solo.

'The Law', Rodgers' next creative venture, represented a partnership with former Small Faces and Who drummer Kenney Jones. The duo scored with such songs as 'Laying Down The Law', especially in America, where the track earned coveted number one ranking on Billboard's AOR chart. Rodgers proceeded The Law with the Grammy nominated solo album 'Muddy Water Blues'. Issued in 1993, 'Muddy Water Blues' showcased Paul's blues roots and debt to Muddy Waters, one of his primary influences. Backed by an array of guitarists whose ranks included Buddy Guy, Jeff Beck, Dave Gilmour, and Brian May, Rodgers paid homage to the many songs whose gritty emotion had informed his sound and style.

In addition to Muddy Waters, Rodgers also took time to acknowledge the influence of Jimi Hendrix. A collaboration with Guns 'n Roses guitarist Slash, Hendrix's own Band of Gypsys Buddy Miles and Billy Cox, led to 'I Don't Live Today', one of the highlights of 'Stone Free: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix', the acclaimed tribute to the late guitarist. Accompanied by former Journey guitarist Neil Schon, Rodgers made a further demonstration of his love for Hendrix's music, issuing 'The Hendrix Set', a live album showcasing his unique interpretations of some of the late guitarist's finest songs.

In 1995, Rodgers assembled a band consisting of guitarist Geoff Whitehorn (Paul McCartney, Roger Daltry) On bass was Jaz Lochrie (Go West), On drums was Jim Copley (Jeff Beck, Seal.)

Rodgers worked the new band live for eighteen months before recording his 1997 C.D. 'Now'. In that time the band performed to ecstatic acclaim in twenty territories ranging from the USA, Canada, Russia, South America, throughout Europe to Japan and more unusual territories such as Romania, Bulgaria, Israel and Greece.

From the Spring of 1998 to the present Paul continues to tour with a sizzling band that creates a buzz wherever they play. With Howard Leese on guitar, from Heart, drummer Jeff Kathan and bassist Jason Boyleston, Paul notes, "Fans are embracing this band like never before." Paul Rodgers.

Despite having written and recorded some of rock's most compelling and durable songs, Rodgers' enthusiasm and amazing talent endures.

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