Simon Kirke

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Simon Kirke
Stevie Winwood & The Free in Amsterdam, 1970. Left to right: Winwood, Fraser, Rodgers, Kirke & Kossoff
Background information
Birth name Simon Frederick St. George Kirke
Born (1949-07-28) 28 July 1949 (age 65)
Lambeth, London, England
Genres Hard rock, blues rock, blues
Occupation(s) Musician, singer-songwriter
Instruments Drums, percussion, guitar, vocals
Years active 1968–present
Labels Island
Associated acts Free, Bad Company, Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band

Simon Frederick St. George Kirke (born 28 July 1949) is an English rock drummer best known as a member of Free and Bad Company.

Life and career[edit]

Kirke was born in Lambeth, South London, England, the son of Olive May and Vivian Percy Kirke.[1][2] He spent his early years living in the countryside of Wales. Leaving school at 17, he returned to London and set about finding a drumming job in the booming blues scene. After a fruitless 22 months he was resigned to returning to the country when he met Paul Kossoff who was playing in a band called Black Cat Bones. Kirke was offered the drumming position in the band for which he played for six months.

Kirke and Paul Kossoff left the band and with Paul Rodgers and Andy Fraser formed Free. In the four years Free were together they had an enormous influence on many bands on both sides of the Atlantic. Their biggest hit, "All Right Now", was a number one in more than 20 territories and was acknowledged by ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) in 1990 as having received more than 1,000,000 radio plays in the US by late 1989. In 2000 an award was given to Paul Rodgers by the British Music Industry when "All Right Now" passed 2,000,000 radio plays in the UK.

Kossoff, Kirke, Tetsu and Rabbit is the 1972 rock album made by guitarist Paul Kossoff, drummer Simon Kirke, bassist Tetsu Yamauchi and keyboard player John "Rabbit" Bundrick. Recorded after Free disbanded when Highway flopped, drummer Kirke elected to remain with guitar player Paul Kossoff forming a quartet with Bundrick and Yamauchi in 1971. Kirke has noted that although initially Kossoff appeared in good spirits and was engaged in making the album he increasingly indulged in drugs often falling asleep between takes or while listening to playbacks.[citation needed]

Although well received and filled with quality songwriting, "Kossoff, Kirke, Tetsu, Rabbit" suffered from the lack of a strong lead vocalist like Rodgers. Kirke's song "Anna" was later re-recorded with Bad Company, the band that he and Rodgers established after the final break up of Free.

By April 1972 Free had reformed with Andy Fraser and Paul Rodgers making peace, and Kossoff appeared to pull it together if only briefly. Kossoff resumed taking drugs during the US tour to support the last album by the original quartet Free at Last. On the eve of their Japanese tour Fraser fought with Rodgers and once again left the band, to be replaced by Yamauchi. Rodgers and Kirke elected to fill in the band bringing Bundrick on board as a member of Free for the tour and the last Free album Heartbreaker.

After the disbanding of Free in 1973, Kirke and Rodgers again teamed up to form Bad Company.[3] They were joined by guitarist Mick Ralphs (Mott the Hoople) and bassist Boz Burrell (King Crimson).

After Bad Company disbanded in 1982, Kirke was briefly involved with another band, Wildlife. Wildlife toured in support of the Michael Schenker Band around this time in the UK; their album was produced by former Bad Company bandmate Ralphs, and it also featured Kirke playing saxophone on one track entitled 'Charity'. Despite being signed to Led Zeppelin's label, Swan Song, and Kirke's high-profile involvement, the album failed to sell. Wildlife's core members, brothers Chris and Steve Overland went onto greater success with the band FM. Kirke returned to Bad Company when the band reformed in 1986.

As well as touring with Ringo Starr's All Star Band on three occasions, Kirke is an accomplished songwriter, releasing Seven Rays of Hope in 2005. He has also worked with Wilson Pickett, Bo Diddley, Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, and Eric Clapton.

In 1980, Kirke played drums alongside Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham for their two song encore in Munich.

Kirke is on the board and a recurring counsellor at Rock 'n Roll Fantasy Camp.

Kirke made an instruction DVD of hits from Bad Company and Free, entitled Lessons from a Legend: Simon Kirke. The DVD was produced by Rockstarz in 2006.

He toured with Bad Company in 2009. He has been playing with New York City rock band Zeta Vang[4] as a side project.

A governor on the board of NARAS (the Grammy Award Committee), Simon is also on the board of Road Recovery, which helps teenagers recover from addiction. Kirke lives in Manhattan, he has four children: Domino, Jemima, Lola, Simon Jr. and (step-son) Greg. When not on tour, Kirke is known to surprise audiences with shows featuring him on drums, piano and guitar. He plays songs from Free and Bad Company but mostly his original compositions. In 2014 Kirke will tour again with Bad Company as well as performing solo with the Simon Kirke Band featuring GE Smith. He opened recently for the female Led Zeppelin tribute band Lez Zeppelin.[citation needed].



Kossoff Kirke Tetsu Rabbit[edit]

Bad Company[edit]


  • Seven Rays of Hope (2005)
  • Filling the Void (2011)


  1. ^ "Biography & Stats – Simon Kirke Official Website". Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  2. ^ "Simon Kirke Biography". Retrieved October 2009. 
  3. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 260. CN 5585. 
  4. ^ "Zeta Vang – Art Rock". Retrieved 20 October 2011. 

External links[edit]