Paul Rodgers laments 1980s-era split with Bad Company, saying 'I felt like the outsider'

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Even as Paul Rodgers reunites with Bad Company for a summer tour, he still laments the band’s sudden end almost 30 years ago — the result, he says, of his desire to get away from drugs.

“It was all around me, so it was almost normal; you just did whatever was there,” Rodgers says. “There was a lot of cocaine, there was a lot of drugs around … but I did draw the line at one point and, in a way, that’s probably what split Bad Company and myself. I stopped all that. And, all of the sudden, I felt like the outsider.”

The three surviving members of Bad Company are prepping for a series of rare European shows, their first since the tour in support of 1975’s Straight Shooter. Announced dates so far include six concerts in June, beginning at Solvesborg, Sweden, and the Sweden Rock Festival. Bad Company will also make stops in Berlin, Stuttgart, Augsburg, Trier and Monchengladbach, Germany, that month.

Rodgers, guitarist Mick Ralphs and drummer Simon Kirke, who have been regrouping for the occasional tour since 2008, were initially together as Bad Company from 1973-82 — a period that included the hits “Feel Like Making Love,” “Can’t Get Enough,” “Shooting Star,” “Bad Company,” and “Run With The Pack.” Original Bad Company bassist Raymond “Boz” Burrell died in 2006 of a heart attack at age 60.

Rodgers, talking to, admits that being the only one not actively in the drug scene quickly led to a widening chasm.

“It was a strange feeling,” Rodgers says. “I was going, ‘You don’t have to hide it all the time. Just do your thing. I’m not criticizing. I’m not judging.’ But I think it’s one of the things about that stuff is that it can make people a little paranoid too about people that aren’t doing it. You’re like the policeman.”

Rodgers has also been a member of Free, and fronted Queen for a time in the 2000s. Ralphs was formerly with Mott the Hoople. Bad Company is appearing on the Germany dates as part of the Rock the Nation Festival.

Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Paul Rodgers. Click through the titles for complete reviews:

ONE TRACK MIND: PAUL RODGERS, with BILLY SHERWOOD AND DAVID GILMOUR, “STANDING AROUND CRYING” (1993): Rodgers’ second solo album was an all-star tribute to blues legend Muddy Waters that became a Grammy-nominated smash success. It’s perhaps the best-ever showcase of his blues-rock influences. “The guy’s such an amazing singer, it was ridiculous to watch in person — just to be behind the console and see it,” said Sherwood, who produced Muddy Water Blues: A Tribute to Muddy Waters. “You just have to cross your fingers that the band doesn’t screw up. It’s that good. Paul’s vocal takes are amazing right out of the gate, one and all … It was like a dream come true.”

ONE TRACK MIND: QUEEN + PAUL RODGERS, “SAY IT’S NOT TRUE” (2007): “Say It’s Not True” originally appeared on the group’s 2005 live album, Return of the Champions, in a more stripped-down acoustic form sung by Roger Taylor. This version, however, is a much more embellished studio recording with Brian May and Paul Rodgers contributing significantly. Otherwise, it’s a very typical charity song: The lyrics were a bit trite and obvious; the melody was also a bit simplistic. It felt like something we’d heard a million times before. Yet, while there were no real surprises in store, it managed to invoke some of the magic of Queen: It builds at just the right moment into a glorious power ballad.

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  • Frank Martin

    Paul Rodgers has been one of those that I always thought would be great singing for a particular band I had in mind if only I could make it happen. I’ve had all the Queen albums, all the Bad Company Paul Rodgers albums, a few PR solo albums and I still think he wasn’t right for Queen.

    I had that Cosmos Rocks cd and for the most part it was just so so. To call it a Queen album means it should at least sound like a Queen album. With Paul Rodgers at the microphone this should have been a blues rock venture, that is what he sounds best at.

    The Who was able to carry because Roger was the original singer and Pete was the writer/ singer so it still sounded like The Who. Things changed without Freddie, the magic died. At this point I’d say get a new name and let the songs sing for themselves.