Entertainment behind the scenes
Supertramp’s Roger Hodgson giving a little back to his fans
Anyone who has ever been within earshot of a radio is familiar with Supertramp’s endless list of hit songs: ”Give a Little Bit,” “Dreamer,” “Breakfast in America,” “The Logical Song” … But the British singer/songwriter behind the tunes is, by his own account, “an unknown quantity,” not quite up there in name recognition with a McCartney, a Jagger or a Townshend.
“Roger Hodgson the name is not a very bankable name,” Hodgson told Reuters on Tuesday.
Or, more to the point, promoters and agents in the United States are not quite as tuned in to his potential as their international counterparts.
Hodgson (pictured at the Grammy Museum on Feb. 28) quit the prog rock band in 1983 to focus on raising his family in verdant northern California. He returned to the business in 2001, and is a hot commodity in Europe, South America, Canada and Australia.
But his 2011 U.S. tour consisted of two casino shows in southern California last week, and a showcase at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles on Monday. From there, it’s a fairly full dance card of concerts in Canada and Europe through the end of October. Of the hundreds of shows he has performed since 2004, just seven were in the United States.
Hodgson hopes to launch a bigger U.S. tour next year, especially once promoters cotton to the fact that most of the fans on his website are from America.
Perhaps promoters are hoping Hodgson will rejoin Supertramp, which continues to tour under the auspices of co-founder Rick Davies. But don’t hold your breath. After Hodgson quit, he agreed to let Davies take the band name on the condition that he use it as a vehicle for his own songs going forward. “Unfortunately that agreement was broken,” Hodgson said.
This was inevitable given that Hodgson wrote most of the band’s hit songs, while Davies’ biggest contribution was perhaps “Bloody Well Right.” Supertramp played seven Hodgson songs on its European tour last year, the band’s first outing in eight years.
Despite feeling “betrayed,” Hodgson said he still has a fondness for Davies based on their shared experience at the helm of one of the biggest bands of the ’70s. He made “overtures” to Davies about joining forces for a few shows for the benefit of fans, “and unfortunately was rebuffed” with the reasoning that a reunion would only benefit him and not Supertramp. Hodgson was philosophical, saying it wasn’t really something he wanted to do anyway.
Hodgson tours in three configurations: As a duo, with a band, and accompanied by an orchestra. The Grammy Museum gig saw him perform a half dozen songs with multi-instrumentalist Aaron McDonald. Hodgson alternated between 12-string guitar and keyboards, and then took part in a Q&A with a moderator, followed by questions from the fans.
“I’m not out here trying to have a rebirth of a career, or whatever,” he said. “I’m very happy that my songs are being remembered … It’s my way of giving a little bit of my love and passion to the world, and trying to do my bit to make things better.”
* Most of his songs are a yearning to know God: “In every song, really, that was the place of longing for me. It’s always been a longing for love. And to me, God is love.” In a follow-up with Reuters, he said he was ”not a great espouser of organized religion,” but felt guided by a higher power when he worked himself into a pure songwriting state of mind. While he was wary of being preachy, he noted songs such as “Lord is it Mine,” “Even in the Quietest Moments” and “The Logical Song” — with the line “please tell me who I am” — were drawn from that mindset.
* Favorite songs: The Logical Song — “I nailed it;” Fool’s Overture – “I love that piece;” solo tunes Only Because of You and Lord Is It Mine; Give a Little Bit – “I thought it was too simple. I didn’t take it to the band for six years because I thought nothing of it.”
* Desert island disc – Debussy’s greatest hits
* Music industry woes: “Young artists really need sponsoring, need help to be allowed to grow. Record companies, for all their faults, they were the patrons of the new artist and we don’t have that, and they can’t afford to do it nowadays.”
(photos courtesy of Rob Shanahan and Howard Heckers)