Bad Company's Paul Rodgers on Conquering America
When classic rockers Bad Company performed at the historic Wembley Arena in London on a beautiful April night in 2010, high-definition cameras captured the evening in all its glory. This week, the band released 'Live at Wembley' simultaneously on DVD, Blu-Ray & CD, and Bad Company's legendary vocalist Paul Rodgers couldn't be any happier.
"I love how the performance looks and sounds," beams Rodgers during a conversation with Noisecreep about the new release. "The fact that it was filmed in the UK is also gratifying. You have to remember, Bad Company broke in the States in a much bigger way."
"The first time I came to America was with the band Free when we toured with Blind Faith, so I learned a lot about how the machine works [in the US] before Bad Company even existed. The music scene in America was so much bigger than it was in the UK. I'm talking about the size of the venues too. In Free, we managed ourselves and it was too tough for us to handle all of what that entailed when we got to touring America. Here we were playing in these large venues, and we weren't equipped to deliver the kind of show we wanted to."
Best known in the States for their radio staple 'All Right Now,' Free disbanded in 1973, but not before Rodgers took his hard-earned touring knowledge and applied it to his next musical adventure. "When we formed Bad Company I looked around and asked, 'Who is the biggest rock band in the world?' The answer was undoubtedly Led Zeppelin. Peter Grant was their manager so we got him to work with us. That made the difference for Bad Company."
Grant's name was both revered and feared in the music business throughout the '70s. Before he found success guiding the careers of The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin and Bad Company, the Brit did time in a sheet metal factory and also worked as a professional wrestler and stuntman. Noisecreep asked Rodgers for his take on Grant. "He was a giant guy, for starters [laughs]. He came up the hard way, but he was a really clever man. He knew how to read people better than anyone I've ever known. Once he took Bad Company under his wing, he was meticulous in working out every detail of our tours.
"He hired a private plane with the Bad Company logo on the side of it. It sounds like a really expensive way of touring, but all it meant was that we could play more shows and then get more money. Instead of going through airport security and all of that stuff, we would get off our plane and jump into a limo that was waiting for us on the tarmac. We covered the entire country that way. Grant was brilliant for figuring all of that business out."
Grant also had a way of making his artists feel larger than life. "I'll never forget being in Los Angeles and staying at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Los Angeles. That place was insane! It was known as the 'Riot House' for years. Anyway, one morning I wake up and see the Bad Company logo painted on a giant billboard outside of my window. Peter had made sure that our hotel rooms faced that particular corner. He really knew how to make us feel special. I miss him dearly."
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