As one the 1970s most successful early supergroups, Bad Company was Led Zeppelin’s little brother—both bands were on Zep’s Swan Song imprint and were managed by the late Peter Grant. Made up of members of Free (Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke), Mott the Hoople (Mick Ralphs) and King Crimson (Boz Burrell), the original lineup broke up in 1982 in the wake of Zeppelin drummer John Bonham’s 1980 death. Over the years, the band reshaped with different lineups, with the original quartet coming back together at Grant’s 1995 funeral. A brief reunion with the founding members that included a bit of touring and 1999’s Original Bad Company Anthology ended that same year. Rodgers returned to being a solo act in 2002 and a brief stint in the Queen + Paul Rodgers project. With fan interest in the band still very high, the line-up of Rodgers, Kirke and Ralphs circulated in 2013 and 2014, co-headlining tours with Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Last year, Rhino Records reissued the band’s first two albums, Bad Company and Straight Shooter as deluxe editions along with the compilation Rock & Roll Fantasy: The Very Best of Bad Company. The latest visit to the vault resulted in the recently released Live In Concert 1977 & 1979, a double-CD set featuring two-and-a-half hours of live music from shows in Houston and London. Rodgers was initially skeptical about revisiting the past.
“When you make something, all the bits and pieces around it don’t matter anymore—we’ve forgotten and moved on. But when I listened back, it was kind of like the story of how the album was put together and the various processes by which we came to the ultimate recordings. So it was quite interesting, and I figured if I was interested, perhaps the fans are interested as well,” he said. “So we decided to tour in support of all this new material, and a couple of new tracks came out of that which we’d all completely forgotten about. One is ‘I’ll See the Sunlight’ and the other is called ‘All Night Long,’ which I think we’ll try and see if we include them in the set.”
Hitting the road with Rodgers and Kirke are ex-Heart guitarist Howard Leese and bassist Todd Ronning (who have toured in Rodgers’ solo band). With Ralphs begging off hitting the road, Rodgers wound up asking ex-Black Crowes guitarist Rich Robinson to step into the role. Having played alongside Robinson at a show held at Seattle’s Experience Music Project (EMP) honoring Jimmy Page, Rodgers was impressed enough to reach out once Ralphs announced he’d be sitting out the tour.
“Rich was [at the EMP show], and he was in my band. I closed the show with a couple of Firm songs—’Radioactive’ and ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed,’ and I really thought Rich was great,” Rodgers recalled. “I got a really great feeling from him. At the end of the evening, I told him I thought we should do something together sometime little thinking that it would be this soon. I think Rich will bring a new sort of energy into the band, and I’m interested to see how it turns out.”
Bad Company will be appearing with Joe Walsh on June 14 at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, 1000 Ocean Pkwy., Wantagh. Visit www.jonesbeach.com or call 800-745-3000 for more information.