Foghat still a force for live shows

Published on February 27th, 2020

By Jim Dail

The 1970s were a time for straight ahead rock and roll in the United States as bands cropped up all over the country to showcase their talents.

Yet, one of the most noted rocking bands known for a relentless touring schedule and powerful live performances was the English band Foghat, with their noted songs such as “Slow Ride” and “Fool for the City.”

“We were always a band that wanted on that stage, no matter how tired or ill we may have felt,” said drummer Roger Earl of the band that will play Thursday at Sycuan Casino and Resort in El Cajon.

The band came together after several members had been in the blues band Savoy Brown, but left to form Foghat and come to America. The band’s name comes from a word that member Dave Peverett came up with for Scrabble.

“I had always wanted to sail away on a boat to America,” said Earl. ‘Eventually I got here and it is my adopted home.”

Throughout the 70s, the band had a solid recording career, with their biggest single “Slow Ride” hitting Number 20 on the Billboard charts.

“It’s obviously about sex, which is what most rock songs are about,” he said. “The label didn’t want an 8-minute single, but we insisted and that’s how it went out.”

Of course, radio stations edited down anyway.

For Earl, it all began in a working class background, a side job for some pocket money and parents who supported his musical drive.

“I grew up in Southwest England, and my parents were not at all rich,” he said. “I worked in a bakery putting jelly and cream in doughnuts and bread to get pocket money.”

Music was a big deal.

“There was always music in the house,” he said.

But the source of Earl’s desire at that point was a motorbike.

“My dad wouldn’t help me buy it,” he said. “So, I started to get interested in drum kits, and I started to take lessons when I was 14, and then when I was 14 ½ I got my drum kit. My mother, after I started to play, said ‘That will never do in the house!’”

As a result, his dad’s woodshed became his practice room.

“It was a shed that I had to duck my head down just to get in, but it was a great place to play,” he said. “I had very cool parents.”

His musical education was fed by trips to Southwest London and Soho, where among others he saw the Yardbirds, The Move, and The Who and their famed drummer Keith Moon.

“Keith was a cool guy and he would play the drums and cymbals hard,” he said. “He had Zildjian cymbals, which I had never seen. He gave me one of his cymbals! Sober, he was the nicest man in the world, but when he wasn’t you had to stay away.”

Growing up he was enthralled with American music.

“My heroes were Little Richard, Fats Domino and Muddy Waters, really all the American music,” he said. “What did England have? ‘Hey Nonny Nonny!”

The drive for rock and roll is just as strong as ever

“There’s something magic being in a rock and roll band,” Earl said. “It’s not going away.”

Of course, he’s not 25 any more so practice is just as important as ever.

“i practice every day,” Earl said. “We had five weeks off after the last tour and we took a break and had some rehearsals. It can wear on you, but then we played two sold out shows in Pueblo and sounded great.”

Like several other bands from the ’70s, namely Cheap Trick, KISS and Peter Frampton, many point to Foghat’s live album as one the best examples of their music. It was also their most successful chart record.

“I was listening to some of our live takes when we were getting ready to record a new album, and Dave and Rob were struggling with lyrics so we just figured let’s do a live album,” he said. “So, we ordered a 8-track recorder and taped 10 shows in the Northeast, and mainly pulled it from two shows. We had a good two albums worth.”

Of course, the record label wasn’t keen on a double live album.

“Warner Bros. didn’t think it was wise to put out a double album,” he said.

Mysteriously, the label doesn’t know where the rest of the record is.

“They say it’s down in the basement, but they won’t let me go down there to find it,” he said. “They told me other people don’t want me to find it.”

People still love to come to the shows.

“People remember a time in their lives, and there is some magic when they come out and get up and boogie to the music,” he said. “It’s still a great feeling hearing them and seeing them cheering to what we do.”

IF YOU GO:

Where: Sycuan Casino, 5469 Casino Way El Cajon

When:8 p.m. Thursday, February 27

Tickets: $59 and $69, https://sycuancasino.yapsody.com/event/book/490736/30466986

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