Roger Hodgson’s long-awaited U.S. tour — his first solo appearances since 1983 — is giving him the chance to do something that Supertramp never did: Establish his own name.
The group hit its commercial peak with 1979′s U.S. charttopper Breakfast in America, an album that’s sold more than 20 million copies on the strength of hits singles “The Logical Song” (No. 6 in the U.S.), “Take the Long Way Home” (No. 10), “Breakfast in America” (No. 9), and “Goodbye Stranger” (No. 15). But Hodgson has remained largely faceless since his early 1980s departure from the band to focus on family.
“Everyone pretty much knows my voice, they know my songs, but they don’t know my name,” Hodgson said. “And I didn’t think about that when I left Supertramp. Supertramp was a kind of faceless band. Supertramp was my baby in a way and I was quite happy to be invisible in it because I put 14 years of my life in there and that’s what I believed in, never thought I’d leave it. It was a surprise for me in a way when suddenly my heart was telling me that it’s over and I need to stop and take care of my family and learn how to be a father.”
Hodgson’s tour includes both solo tracks and other familiar Supertramp hits, like the UK Top 20 hit “Dreamer” from 1975′s Crime of the Century. Hodgson’s only released three studio albums on his own (two in the 1980s, none since 2000′s Open the Door), but says another is possible — but only after this tour is finished: “Right now I’m feeling like the connection I’m making in concert is more important, so that’s kind of taking the priority,” Hodgson tells Rolling Stone.
A reunion with Rick Davies, who has continued on with the Supertramp name, is off the table. Hodgson says earlier overtures weren’t well received — and that he’s more focused on reminding people of who he is, and what he’s accomplished, anyway. It’s a desire, like this tour, that’s been a long time coming.
“I grew up on the Beatles and the Beatles profoundly changed my life, so, for me, they were the role models. I wanted Supertramp to affect other people like the Beatles affected me,” he said. “I couldn’t get behind Roger Hodgson being that name, I didn’t have the kind of ego that wanted to be a solo artist back then. So I put all my passion into (Supertramp) and it was only really when I realized it was over and my heart was telling me I had to do something else and it was time to take a break from the music industry and learn how to be a parent that it dawned on me suddenly, I didn’t have a name to continue a career. I was giving that name to Rick Davies. It was probably the most foolish business move I’ve ever done,” Hodgson added, laughing. “But business was never my forte. My blessing and curse was I was an artist first, I just had to follow my heart.”
Roger Hodgson’s announced dates so far in the U.S., with more to be announced soon …
Temecula, California – Pechanga Resort Casino – February 24 and 25
Chandler, AZ – Wild Horse Pass Casino – February 26
Tulsa, OK – Hard Rock Casino – The Joint – February 28
Milwaukee, WI – Potawatomi Casino / Northern Lights – March 3, 4 and 5
Hollywood, FL – Hard Rock Live – March 7
Ft. Pierce, FL – Sunrise Theatre – March 8
Hinckley, MN – Grand Casino Hinckley – March 2
Seattle, WA – August 9
Portland, OR – August 10
Brooks, CA – Cache Creek Casino – August 11
Saratoga, CA – Saratoga Mountain Winery – August 12
Lincoln, RI – Twin River Casino Event Center – August 17
Highland Park, IL – Ravinia Pavilion – August 23
Chautauqua, NY – Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater – August 25
Hodgson’s full schedule, including his South America and European dates, can be found here: http://www.rogerhodgson.com/documents/tour.html
A few of our recent thoughts on Roger Hodgson and Supertramp. Click through the titles for complete reviews …
SUPERTRAMP, “SCHOOL” (1974): Supertramp often attempted jazzy prog rock with mixed results, but they never nailed it as well as they did here. “School” is also a rebellion against authority song, put in a clever context of rules foisted on schoolchildren. But the big draw is the performance: Rick Davies’ lonesome harmonica signals that this ain’t gonna be no uptempo song, and Roger Hodgson’s familiar pleading vocal emerges with just his lightly strummed electric guitar. Fans and indeed band itself have long considered Crime of the Century their artistic high point, and this song is what I’ve long considered the artistic high point of Crime of the Century. It hits on all cylinders.
SUPERTRAMP, “SISTER MOONSHINE (1975): An elfin, silvery tune as there ever was in rock, Hodgson starts off with that twelve-string, and augments it with an electric sitar as he sings with a forlorn tone about the childhood innocence he misses. Hodgson sounds more like a minstrel he sings he wish he could have been, than just merely a musician. “Sister Moonshine” never became the hit its close cousin “Give A Little Bit” later became, but it’s hard not to like this song.
SUPERTRAMP, “GOODBYE STRANGER” (1979): Unjustly overlooked co-leader Rick Davies starts out singing alongside the simplest of melodies on an old Wurlitzer electric piano before Roger Hodgson eventually joins in with a crinkly falsetto. There’s some whistling. A little guitar. Meanwhile, I’m in the middle of a 360 in the parking lot of the old South Park Mall in Shreveport, Louisiana. As Davies and Hodgson’s vocals intertwine, the track begins to build past these basic pop pretensions. “Will we ever,” Davies sings (TURN IT UP!), “meet agaaaain …” Then, four and half minutes in, it happens: This whooshing cumulus of guitar and keyboard scurries upward, never lasting quite long enough. I’m in my first car, with this thing just blasting, worried only that the dumb-ass DJ might break in too early to talk about the weather.
SUPERTRAMP, “CRAZY” (1982): One of the things that has long appealed to me about Supertramp has been their unconventional lyrics. While they’ve done a ballad here and there, most of their material has dealt with alienation, disillusionment, and general frustration — all emotional experiences that most people can draw from. The aptly titled Famous Last Words album was no exception. Opening the album was the light but trademark Supertramp “Crazy.” Had Hodgson stayed in the band beyond this album, I could see where this song could have become one of their live staples. “Crazy” is a fantastic bookend to the Hodgson/Davies musical “marriage.”
ROGER HODGSON, “MY MAGAZINE: (1987): Love the in-your-face hard-rockin’ approach. Coming from someone who’s built a reputation for cheery, richly melodic pop, it’s kind of a surprise, but a surprise of the good kind. Built upon aggresive, minor chord guitar riffs, Hodgson’s booming vocal easily glides right over it, and you can even sense the sneering in it. When he gets to the chorus, he’s yelling, screaming and moaning along to his guitar. He never gets out of control, but he brings piles of attitude. It’s a little like Pink Floyd’s “Young Lust,” but with Robert Plant singing it.