Roger Hodgson performing on his Breakfast in America World Tour
|Birth name||Charles Roger Pomfret Hodgson|
21 March 1950 |
Portsmouth, Hampshire, England
|Genres||Progressive rock, pop rock, art rock|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, songwriter, singer|
|Instruments||Vocals, keyboards, guitar, bass, drums|
|Labels||A&M, Unichord/Voiceprint, Epic, Eagle Vision, Universal|
|Associated acts||Supertramp, Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band, Argosy|
He left Supertramp in 1983 to pursue a solo career, but after two albums he retired from touring and other industry obligations. In 1997 Hodgson returned to doing solo tours, and as of 2014 is still touring worldwide. He is recognised for his tenor head voice, which became a trademark of his former band Supertramp, and often writes about spiritual and philosophical topics.
1950–1969: Early years
Hodgson was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, on 21 March 1950 and grew up in Oxford. He is the son of Charles and Jill (née Pomfret, died in June 2009) Hodgson. He attended boarding schools Woodcote House near Windlesham, Surrey, where he was the first boy to learn electric guitar, and Stowe School near Buckingham, Buckinghamshire. Hodgson's first guitar was a parting gift from his father at age 12 when his parents divorced.:26–28 He took it to boarding school with him, where his teacher taught him three chords. He began composing his own music and lyrics and within a year gave his first concert at school with nine original songs at the age of 13. Hodgson's first band at school consisted of him on guitar and his friend Roy Hovey playing snare drums. They were dubbed the "H-bombs" because of their last names.
At age 19, Roger Hodgson made his first appearance in a recording studio as guitarist for People Like Us, a band he joined shortly after graduating from boarding school.:26–28 The group recorded a single, "Duck Pond" b/w "Send Me No Flowers", which was never released.
After People Like Us disbanded, Hodgson auditioned for Island Records, with Traffic's road manager providing him a foot in the door with the label.:26–28 Island set him up in a recording studio as vocalist for the one-off "flower power" pop band Argosy, which also included Reginald Dwight (later known as Elton John), Caleb Quaye, and Nigel Olsson. Their sole single, "Mr. Boyd" b/w "Imagine", consisted of two pieces of orchestrated pop (both penned by Hodgson) and was issued in 1969 on the DJM (U.K.) and Congress (U.S.) record labels. "Mr. Boyd" was covered in 1997 by Jake Shillingford and his band My Life Story on their album "The Golden Mile".
After the break-up of Argosy, Hodgson, responding to an advert placed in Melody Maker by Rick Davies, auditioned for the guitarist spot in the progressive rock band Supertramp. Hodgson was offered the job, but when Richard Palmer arrived the next day to audition for the same spot, Hodgson agreed to learn bass instead.
The songs on Supertramp's self-titled first album, released in 1970, were composed by Roger Hodgson, Rick Davies, and Richard Palmer; however, since both Hodgson and Davies were unwilling to write lyrics, Palmer wrote all the album's lyrics. Palmer left shortly after the album's recording, allowing Hodgson to switch back to guitar (as well as providing keyboards), but leaving him and Davies no choice but to serve as the band's lyricists as well as lead singers. Similar to fellow British prog rockers Genesis' search for a new lead vocalist, Supertramp auditioned 93 guitarists before surrendering the role to Hodgson.:36 The hugely successful Crime of the Century was released in 1974, which was the first of their albums to have the classic line-up of Hodgson, Davies and new members Bob Siebenberg (drums), Dougie Thomson (bass) and John Helliwell (saxophone, clarinet, keyboards, backing vocals). This line-up would remain unchanged for the remainder of Hodgson's tenure in the group. The follow-up Crisis? What Crisis?, their first album to be recorded in the USA, was released in 1975. By their 1977 release Even in the Quietest Moments, the band had permanently relocated to the USA.
In 1979, they released their most successful album, Breakfast in America, which has sold over 20 million copies to date. The live album Paris was released in 1980. …Famous Last Words…, released in 1982, included Hodgson's compositions, "It's Raining Again," "Don't Leave Me Now," "C'est le Bon," "Know Who You Are," and "Crazy."
From 1974 through 1983, all songs recorded by Supertramp had a shared writing credit of Davies/Hodgson, similar to Lennon/McCartney. Roger Hodgson wrote hits such as "Give a Little Bit",:119–137 "Breakfast in America", "It's Raining Again", "Take the Long Way Home", "Dreamer", and "Fool's Overture".:119–137 Hodgson wrote "Breakfast in America," "The Logical Song," and parts of "Fool's Overture" at home with a harmonium he had bought from a neighbor when he was 17 years old (this instrument is used in the background of "Breakfast in America," and prominently appears on "Two of Us" and his solo track "The Garden").
In 1981, Hodgson moved his family from Los Angeles to Northern California, where he built a home studio and began contemplating solo recordings.:167–175 The rest of Supertramp remained in Los Angeles and the geographic separation created a rift between them and Hodgson; feuding was virtually non-existent, but the group harmony was lost. Hodgson felt increasingly constrained in the group context, and during the tour for …Famous Last Words… he made the final decision to leave Supertramp.:177–192 He has stated that there were not any real problems in his relationship with Davies, as was speculated.
1984–present: Solo career
Hodgson recorded three solo albums at his new home studio, the first before his departure from Supertramp. Titled Sleeping With the Enemy, it was cut in the months between the release of …Famous Last Words… and its supporting tour, and mixed during Supertramp rehearsals for the tour in hopes of fitting in some solo promotion while on the road.:177–192 However, at the last minute Hodgson had second thoughts about the album's quality and decided to scrap it, planning to record a new and better album after his last tour with Supertramp.:177–192
This second effort, In the Eye of The Storm, was released in 1984. Despite being heavily publicised as the solo album of a former member of Supertramp, it failed to break the top 40 in either the US or UK. The single "Had a Dream (Sleeping With the Enemy)" was able to reach no higher than number 48 in the US, while the follow-up single, "In Jeopardy", failed to chart at all.
Though a major commercial disappointment after his last six albums with Supertramp, In the Eye of the Storm would prove to be Hodgson's biggest success without the group. His second album was Hai Hai (1987), however, just prior to the release of Hai Hai, Hodgson fell from a loft in his home and broke both wrists, which disabled him from promoting the album. It would barely scrape into the Billboard 200, and did not make the UK Chart. He decided to take a long break from both touring and recording in order to spend more time with his children.
In 1990, Hodgson was approached by Yes to join them as lead vocalist, but declined the offer. One of the songs he co-wrote with Trevor Rabin, "Walls", appears on Yes's 1994 Talk album, with lyrics revised by Jon Anderson. A version of "Walls" with only Hodgson and Rabin on vocals was released on Trevor Rabin's 2003 archival release 90124.
After a long break, he launched into his first tour in over ten years, and released 1997's live Rites of Passage to document the tour. The live album was recorded at the Miners Foundry in Nevada City, California. He performed with a full band including his son Andrew and Supertramp sax player John Helliwell. The album did badly in both the UK and US, though it did reach number 34 in Germany.
Hodgson played King Arthur in the rock opera Excalibur: La Legende Des Celtes, and appeared on the album for two songs: "The Elements," and "The Will of God." The project was headed by Alan Simon and released in 1999. In 2000, Hodgson contributed vocals on a track titled "The Moon Says Hello" by Carlos Núñez, on the CD Mayo Longo.
Hodgson's fourth solo effort, Open the Door, was released in 2000 and continued in the vein of his previous work. He collaborated again with Alan Simon on the album. In August 2000, Hodgson guested with Fairport Convention at that year's Cropredy Festival. He performed "Breakfast In America", "The Logical Song", "Open The Door" and "Give A Little Bit".
Hodgson toured as a member of Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band in 2001, playing guitar and singing, and has since collaborated with Trevor Rabin (who appears on the track "The More I Look" on Open the Door).
Hodgson continued touring, often playing alone, and frequently joined by his band or a full orchestra. He took part in the Night of the Proms concert series in Belgium and Germany in late 2004, as well as the rock festival Bospop in 2005. On 30 November 2005, he held his first concert in England in over twenty years, at Shepherd's Bush, London. While the performance was filmed and scheduled for a DVD release, the plan was scrapped. Instead, the concert recorded at the Place Des Arts in Montreal, Canada on 6 June 2006 was his first DVD, released on 22 August 2006, entitled Take the Long Way Home - Live in Montreal. In October 2006, the DVD was certified multi-platinum by the CRIA (Canadian Recording Industry Association).
In May 2006, Hodgson was honoured by ASCAP in recognition of his song "Give A Little Bit" being one of the most played songs in the ASCAP repertoire in 2005. He received another ASCAP award on 9 April 2008 for the Gym Class Heroes' song "Cupid's Chokehold", recognised as one of the most played songs in ASCAP's repertoire in 2007.
Hodgson performed at the Concert for Diana at Wembley Stadium, on 1 July 2007. He sang a medley of his most popular songs: "Dreamer", "The Logical Song", "Breakfast in America" and "Give A Little Bit".
On 18 September 2007, the DVD Take the Long Way Home - Live in Montreal was released worldwide, achieving Platinum status in just seven weeks, hitting #1 in all of Canada, and now multi-Platinum and Gold in France and Germany.
Hodgson toured the US, Australia, New Zealand, South America, Europe, and Canada in 2010. Though Hodgson's former bandmates in Supertramp announced a 40th Anniversary reunion tour, he was not invited to join them, and his own touring schedule would have prohibited him from any participation beyond the occasional guest spot in any case. Both Hodgson and Supertramp released tour material on download only on their websites. Hodgson's Classics Live is a collection of recordings taken from solo, band, and orchestra shows from his 2010 world tour. Hodgson continued to tour worldwide from 2011-2014, including two concerts at the Royal Albert Hall. He will soon again embark upon his 2015 Breakfast in America World Tour with shows in Germany, the U.K., Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Norway, France, Spain, Belgium, Holland, the U.S. and Canada.
For his work with Supertramp, see Supertramp discography between 1969 and 1983
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