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Bad Company

Bad Company are an English hard rock supergroup founded in 1973, consisting of band members from Free (Paul Rodgers, Simon Kirke), Mott the Hoople (Mick Ralphs), and King Crimson (Boz Burrell). Bad Company enjoyed great success throughout the 1970s. They were managed by Peter Grant, who had also guided Led Zeppelin to massive success.

History

The original Paul Rodgers era (1973–1982)

Rumour has it that singer Paul Rodgers was so enamoured of the Jeff Bridges film Bad Company that he chose to name his band after it. However, Rodgers himself disabused the public of that notion in an interview with Spinner.com.

The 1974 debut album Bad Company was an international hit, with the group considered one of the 1970s’ first supergroups. Bad Company consisted of four seasoned musicians: two former members of Free, singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke; former Mott the Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs; and King Crimson bassist Boz Burrell. The group was managed by Peter Grant, who also managed Led Zeppelin at the time and would manage Bad Company until 1982, when Swan Song Records folded. The album peaked at #1 on Billboard’s Pop Albums chart (North America) and included two singles that reached the top 20 charts, “Can’t Get Enough” at #5 in 1974 and “Movin’ On” at #19 in early 1975. In 1975, Straight Shooter gave the group another #1 on Billboard’s Pop Albums chart. The album also spawned two hit singles, “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad” at #36 and the slower “Feel Like Makin’ Love” at #10.

Bad Company scheduled a British tour, along with the band of former Free member Paul Kossoff, Back Street Crawler, to support Bad Company’s 1975 album Run With the Pack as well as a new album by Back Street Crawler. This double headline tour was scheduled to commence on 25 April 1976, but was halted due to Kossoff’s death on 19 March 1976.

Run With the Pack was Bad Company’s first Platinum certified album. It was their third consecutive million-selling record, reaching #5 on the Billboard chart and featured the hit “Young Blood” that peaked at #20 on the Pop charts.

1977′s Burnin’ Sky fared the poorest of the first four that charted: the album’s title song, “Burnin’ Sky”, only reached #78 on the Pop charts. 1979′s Desolation Angels fared better than its predecessor and gave the band their first Top 5 Platinum selling album since 1976′s album Run With the Pack. Desolation Angels embellished the group’s sound with synthesisers and strings. The album reached #3 on the Billboard charts and again had two charting singles: “Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy” at #13 and “Gone Gone Gone” at #56.

By the end of the 1970s, the band grew increasingly disenchanted with playing large stadiums. In addition, Peter Grant lost interest in the group, and in management in general, after Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham died on 25 September 1980. In the words of Simon Kirke, “Peter was definitely the glue which held us all together and in his absence we came apart”.(Reportedly, Paul Rodgers—who has a black belt in martial arts—was involved in a rather one-sided physical altercation with Boz Burrell and Mick Ralphs.)

A three-year hiatus from the studio ended with the release of Rough Diamonds in 1982. This would be the sixth and final LP in the group’s original incarnation until four new songs were recorded in 1998. The album was the worst selling Bad Company album of those that had Paul Rodgers as the front man. The album peaked at #26 and featured “Electricland” (#74), that reached #2 on the newly created Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.

After the release of Rough Diamonds, they disbanded. Mick Ralphs said, “Paul wanted a break and truthfully we all needed to stop. Bad Company had become bigger than us all and to continue would have destroyed someone or something. From a business standpoint, it was the wrong thing to do, but Paul’s instinct was absolutely right”.

Despite being famous for their live shows packing the largest stadiums for almost a decade, Bad Company did not release an official live album of performances from this time period until the 2006 album Live in Albuquerque 1976. The recordings were made by Mick Ralphs, who regularly taped the group’s shows, utilising them as a tool to finely tune their set and performances. Bootlegs of Bad Company’s live performances from this period were also available, including “Boblingen Live” (1974), “Live in Japan” (1975) and “Shooting Star Live at the L.A. Forum” (1975).

Brian Howe era (1984–1994)

In 1986 Mick Ralphs and Simon Kirke wanted to start up the band again, but Rodgers was engaged with a new group called The Firm and wasn’t available to handle vocal duties. With Rodgers not available, Ralphs and Kirke invited ex-Ted Nugent vocalist Brian Howe to join the group as their lead singer. In addition, they hired Steve Price as their bass player and Greg Dechert (ex-Uriah Heep) to play the keyboards. Howe’s vocal style brought more of a pop-rock sound to the band, which Atlantic Records, looking to bring the band back up to arena status, was looking for after declining turnouts to previous live performances and the dismal sales of Rough Diamonds. The band hired Foreigner producer Keith Olsen to produce the new lineup’s initial album, 1986′s Fame and Fortune. Reflecting the musical style of the mid-80s, the album was laden with keyboards, unlike previous Bad Company albums, and was modestly commercially successful. The single “This Love” managed to reach No. 85 on the Singles charts, but was not the success the band hoped for, but things were about to change.

In 1987 Dechert was dropped from the lineup as the group decided not to play up the keyboards in their sound as much. They toured that year supporting Deep Purple.

For the next Howe-era album, 1988′s Dangerous Age, the band replaced Olsen with producer Terry Thomas, who got rid of most of the keyboards and returned the band to a guitar-driven sound. Thomas also added small amounts of keyboards as well as rhythm guitars and backing vocals and wrote most of the songs with the band. Dangerous Age fared better than its predecessor, spawning several MTV videos and the AOR hits “No Smoke Without A Fire” (#4), “One Night” (#9) and “Shake It Up” (#9, also No. 89 on the Singles charts). The album went Gold and hit the Top 60. For the Dangerous Age tour, the band were augmented by Larry Oakes (keyboards, guitar), who had also played with Foreigner. Price and Oakes left at the conclusion of the tour.

The band’s next album,Holy Water written mostly by Brian Howe and Terry Thomas released in June 1990 on Atco, also produced by Thomas, was enormously successful both critically and commercially, attaining Top 40 and Platinum status by selling more than one million copies. Holy Water was the band’s first album on the Atlantic subsidiary Atco Records. The album spun off the singles: “If You Needed Somebody” (#16), the title track “Holy Water” (#89) and “Walk Through Fire” (#28). “Holy Water” also hit No. 1 for 2 weeks on the AOR charts with “If You Needed Somebody” reaching No. 2. The album received significant radio airplay (five songs made the AOR charts in all) and spawned several video hits. Felix Krish played bass on the CD while Paul Cullen was recruited for live shows. Mick Ralphs, who was taking care of personal and family matters, sat out for most of the Holy Water tour, although he did perform on the album. Ralphs was replaced on the road and in the videos by ex-Crawler guitarist Geoffrey Whitehorn. Ralphs returned later on during the tour and Whitehorn joined Procol Harum where he still plays to this day. Also joining at this time was ex-ASAP guitarist Dave “Bucket” Colwell as second guitarist. Heralded as one of the top 5 grossing tours of 1991, and supported by Damn Yankees, that year was one in which saw many other rock acts facing a downturn in concert attendance brought on by rising ticket prices and economic recession.

It was widely rumored all summer that Howe and other members of the band, which he helped revive 3 years earlier, had been bickering over financial matters. Howe was rumored to be leaving the band and ex-Kansas singer Steve Walsh was to take over for the remainder of the tour. Easier said than done. Atlantic Records did not agree given the success of Holy Water and Howe’s extraordinary vocal ability and he was asked to stay on.

The final studio album of the Howe era, 1992′s Here Comes Trouble, featured the Top 40 hit “How About That” (#38) and “This Could Be The One” (#87). The album went Gold. Before touring in support of Here Comes Trouble, the band added ex-Foreigner, Roxy Music and Small Faces bassist Rick Wills and Colwell, a protégé of Ralphs, was now a full-time member. The band recorded a live album, What You Hear Is What You Get: The Best of Bad Company on the Here Comes Trouble tour. The critically acclaimed album released in November 1993, featured live versions of hits from both the Rodgers and Howe eras of the band.

Howe left the band in 1994. Regarding his departure from the band, Howe stated: “Leaving Bad Company was not a difficult decision. It had got to the point where nobody was contributing anything to songwriting and quite frankly, the band was getting very very sloppy live. I quite simply, along with Terry Thomas, got tired of doing all the work and then getting nothing but resentment for it from Mick and Simon”.

Robert Hart era (1995–1997)
After Howe’s departure, the remaining foursome hired ex-Distance vocalist Robert Hart to take over lead vocal duties. Unlike Howe (who had a different style and a higher range), Hart was closer in voice and an imitator of Rodgers. The new lineup released Company of Strangers in June 1995 which came out on EastWest Records and peaked at No. 159 on the Album charts. It produced the AOR hit “Down And Dirty” (#17). Stories Told & Untold was released in October 1996 and bombed commercially. The album contains re-recordings of seven of Bad Company’s biggest hits (“told” stories), and seven new songs (“untold” stories). Many of these were recorded in Nashville and featured guest appearances by country stars such as Vince Gill. For their 1996 tour the Bad Company lineup was: Kirke, Hart, Rick Wills and Dave “Bucket” Colwell. Ralphs sat out this tour due to health issues.

Discography

Studio Albums

Bad Company – http://www.bopping-elf.co.uk/bad-company-bad-company/

Straight Shooter – http://www.bopping-elf.co.uk/bad-company-straight-shooter/

Live Albums

Live in Alberqueque – http://www.bopping-elf.co.uk/bad-company-live-albuqueque-1975/

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