Bad Company

Origin: Westminster, London

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Genres: Blues-Rock, Hard Rock, Rock

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Bad Company are an English hard rock supergroup formed in Westminster, London in 1973 by two former Free members – singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke, as well as Mott the Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs and King Crimson bassist Boz Burrell.  Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant managed Bad Company until 1982.

Bad Company enjoyed great success throughout the 1970’s.  Their first three albums, Bad Company (1974), Straight Shooter (1975) and Run with the Pack (1976) charted top five in America and England.  Many of their singles such as “Bad Company,” “Can’t Get Enough,” “Good Lovin Gone Bad, “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” “Shooting Star” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy” remain rock radio staples worldwide.

The band took its name from a book of Victorian morals that showed a picture of an innocent kid looking up an unsavory character leaning against a lamppost with the caption reading “beware of bad company.”

The band’s 1974 debut album, Bad Company topped American album charts going on to sell more than five million albums becoming the 46th-best selling album of the 1970’s.  The album charted two singles; “Can’t Get Enough,” and “Movin’ On.”

Bad Company’s second album 1975’s Straight Shooter also sold more than a million copies in America and dropped two hit singles; “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad” and “Feel Like Makin’ Love.”

Bad Company’s Burnin’ Sky (1977) fared the poorest of their first four albums, while their next album 1979’s Desolation Angels outsold its predecessor.  Desolation Angels embellished the group’s sound with synthesizers and strings.  It charted two singles; “Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy” and “Gone Gone Gone.”

By the end of the 1970’s the band grew disenchanted with playing large stadiums.  In addition Peter Grant lost interest in the group after the 1980 death of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bohnam.  This led to a three year hiatus that ended with the 1982 release of their album Rough Diamonds.  This sixth and final album from the group’s original lineup was their worst selling and proved to be their final output until four new songs were recorded in 1998.  After the release of Rough Diamonds Bad Company disbanded.

In 1985 Mick Ralphs and Simon Kirke fresh off a collaboration on Ralph’s solo album decided to re-team for a new project.  At their record label’s insistence they decided to resurrect the Bad Company moniker.  By 1986 Paul Rodgers was engaged with a new group The Firm.  With Rodgers gone the duo teamed with ex-Ted Nugent vocalist Brian Howe as the new lead singer, while adding Steve Price as the new bassist and Gregg Dechert ex of Uriah Heep on keyboards.

Howe’s vocal style brought more of a pop-rock sound to the band which pleased the record company who sought a return to arena status for the group.  The new configuration released 1986’s Fame and Fortune.  The record reflected the 1980’s musical style of ladling keyboards on the album.  The album enjoyed moderate success, but things were about to change.

By 1988 Dechert was dropped from the band as the group returned to a guitar driven sound at the expense of the keyboards for their next album Dangerous Age.  The album outsold its predecessor eventually going gold.

It was Bad Company’s next album 1990’s Holy Water that brought the band back to the top of the charts.  The album enjoyed both commercial  and critical success selling more than one million copies and spawning several hit singles including the title track, “If You Needed Somebody” and ‘Walk Through Fire.”

Ralphs, who was taking care of family matters at the time sat out most of the Holy Water tour but later returned.  The subsequent tour supported by Damn Yankees became one of the top five grossing tours of 1991.

The final Bad Company album of the Brian Howe era, 1992’s Here Comes Trouble also went gold while receiving critical and commercial acclaim.  A live album from the tour released the next year featured versions of hits from both the Rodgers and Howe eras of the band.

Brian Howe departed the band in 1994 and Bad Company hired ex-Distance vocalist Robert Hart to take over the lead vocals.  Hart had a different style than Howe and was virtually an imitator of Rodgers.  The band released one album with Hart; 1995’s Company of Strangers which saw moderate success.

In  December 1995 the four original members of Bad Company came together for the first time in thirteen years for Peter Grant’s funeral.  This would be a precursor of things to come.

In November 1998 Rodgers and Kirke were discussing release of an extensive compilation album with a biography and pictures for the fans.  Rodgers decided the album should include new music and he reunited with the other three members to record four new songs.  While the reunion was short-lived it did produce a Top 20 hit “Hey Hey.”  The new songs appeared on 1999’s The ‘Original’ Bad Co. Anthology.

The reunited foursome toured America throughout the first half of 1999.  While the shows drew well Ralphs announced he was retiring from live performing and Burrell once again left the group.  The final show at the Los Angeles’ Greek Theater turned out to be the last show of the four original members.

In 2001 Rodgers again joined Kirke to tour America with Dave Colwell and Rick Wills replacing Ralphs and Burrell.  After the tour Bad Company went inactive again with Rodgers joining Queen playing both Bad Company and the former’s songs in concert.

In 2006 bassist Boz Burrell died of a heart attack at age 60 at his home in Spain.

In 2009 the original remaining lineup of Bad Company toured joined by Howard Leese (Heart) and bassist Lynn Sorensen.  For Bad Company’s 2016 American tour Black Crowes guitarist Chris Robinson stood in for Ralphs who suffered a stroke later that year.

In 2018 Bad Company toured with Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Reference –

Bad Company discography

Sacramento’s K-ZAP 93.3 FM plays Bad Company.  All part of 50 years of Rock, Blues and More, 24-7 on our station’s stream at K-ZAP.ORG/LISTEN/

Check out Bad Company performing “Feels Like Makin’ Love.”