Thirty-seventh installment in a series exploring very important people in my life.
Let me start explaining how this will work: I listed 65 idols of mine. Every Friday (with the exception of those reserved for the Rock Chain posts) I’ll draw one of the names (following a system that it’s really not important to be explained here) and talk about it.
Therefore, the order in which the names will appear doesn’t necessarily shows where they rank in my preference.
As a final introductory note, this is also not a biography article. I’ll just write how I feel about people represented in it, their talent and their importance in my life.
There are some people within the Rock community (journalists, musicians, managers, you name it) that have a theory that to be the frontman in a band you need more balls than talent. I don’t necessarily agree with that statement, but sometimes balls is what you need most when facing the fronting a band challenge.
Case in point, talent would never be enough for somebody stepping into the gigantic shoes of one Freddie Mercury and fronting Queen on their first World Tour after his death and even recording with them. But this person exists and his name is Paul Rodgers.
Paul Bernard Rodgers was born in Middlesbrough (ENG) in 17 December 1949. He started playing bass in a local band called The Roadrunners, but soon changed to vocals and left for London, where he would find fame and fortune.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Paul Rodgers must be admired for his balls in fronting Queen and not his talent. He has a gigantic amount of talent and is blessed with probably the most beautiful Blus/Rock voice of all time. I’m sorry Coverdale fans, but that’s my opinion. It’s no coincidence that his most die-hard fans dubbed him “The Voice”.
And speaking of Coverdale, he is just one on an immense list that cites Paul Rodgers as one of their main influences: Paul Stanley (that tells in his autobiography that he chose the name Paul for his artistic name because of Paul Rodgers and Paul McCartney), Eric Martin, Jimi Jamison, Steve Overland, Bruce Dickinson, Joe Lynn Turner, Cormac Neeson and many others do. First time I had the opportunity to interview Eric Martin, I asked him about Paul Rodgers and he called him “Golden Voice”. And you know why he was asked to do the Queen job? Freddie Mercury was his fan!
When relocating to London, he formed Free and wrote with bassist Andy Fraser the worldwide smash hit, “All Right Now” helping cement his band’s reputation as one of the greatest of the British Blues/Rock bands. In the late sixties/early seventies Free rivaled Led Zeppelin as the highest grossing British act. However, Free broke up (in large part due to their erratic guitar player Paul Kossof).
But Paul Rodgers had more tricks up his sleeve. He got together with former Mott the Hoople guitar player Mick Ralphs, former King Crimson bassist Boz Burrell and his Free bandmate drummer Simon Kirke and formed Bad Company, one of the greatest Rock bands ever.
Bad Company signed with Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song label and released their debut album, regarded as one of the best in history. It spawned the hit single “Can’t Get Enough” (another worldwide smash hit) and the wonderful ballad “Seagull” in which Paul played all the instruments. With more hit singles like “Feel Like Makin’ Love”, “Shooting Star” and “Rock and Roll Fantasy” on further albums, Bad Company earned six platinum albums.
He left in 1982 and started an interesting solo career and had a nice project alongside Jimmy Page called The Firm. But his return to the mainstream would happen only in 2002 with the Bad Company reunion and be cemented with Queen in 2004.
As a huge Queen fan, I must say I was doubtful about the outcome, but when I heard how the songs were faring, I was gobsmacked (I used this word to make it very British). The songs were so well adapted to his voice, it gave Queen a Soul/Blues aura I never thought they could have. And their record Cosmos Rocks is nice (if you can listen to it without thinking about Freddie’s style of writing).
After Queen he again reunited with Bad Company and I had a chance to witness the band playing at Sweden Rock in 2012. One of the greatest performances I ever watched.
Therefore, Mr. Rodgers, I can’t get enough of your voice, so welcome to the Hall Of Idols.
Be sure to check out my book “Straight And Lethal” winner of the NABE Pinnacle Awards 2014 Fall edition.
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