Russ: Roger Hodgson has been recognized as one of the most gifted composers, songwriters and lyricists of our time.
As the legendary voice of Supertramp and composer of many of the band’s greatest hits, he gave us “Give a Little Bit,” “The Logical Song,” “Dreamer,” “Take the Long Way Home,” “Breakfast In America,” “It’s Raining Again,” “School,” “Fools Overture” and so many others that have become the soundtrack of our lives.
During the time that Roger led the band, Supertramp hit the status of becoming a worldwide rock phenomenon. The wildly successful album “Breakfast in America” hit number one in countries around the world and stayed on the top of the charts for a full year, becoming one of the biggest selling albums of all time.
To date Supertramp have sold well over 60 million albums. In Canada alone, sales for “Crime of the Century” and “Breakfast in America” reached Diamond status; meaning one in fifteen Canadians owned both albums.
But Supertramp was just part of Roger’s continuing journey.
Roger Hodgson with symphony orchestra / Hodgson has talked about how when he composed this piece he always saw it being played with an orchestra. So, seeing it with an orchestra, we are seeing it the way the composer originally intended it. This epic is on the album “Even in the Quietest Moments.”
The Logical Song / 2015 / Breakfast in America Tour
Hodgson dedicated this song to his mentor and senior manager, Elliott Lott, who for many years helped to bring Roger back to touring and connecting with his fans worldwide, plus he has served as an invaluable mentor and adviser to Roger’s other two managers, Shakti & Linda.
Supertramp interview with Roger Hodgson
Interview: Making of Supertramp’s Greatest Hits
Hide in Your Shell, Roger Hodgson with Orchestra
Top Supertramp albums and Hit Songs:
1970 / Supertramp
Shadow Song / sung by Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson
Bloody Well Right
Give A Little Bit
The Logical Song
Breakfast In America
Take The Long Way Home
It’s Raining Again
Roger Hodgson albums Beyond Supertramp
Lovers In The Wind
Born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, on 21 March 1950. He attended boarding schools, where he was the first boy to learn electric guitar. Hodgson’s first guitar was a parting gift from his father at age 12 when his parents divorced. 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.
He eventually added piano, bass, drums and even cello to his musical instrument accomplishments.
At age 19, Roger made his first appearance in a recording studio as guitarist for “People Like Us”, a band he joined shortly after graduating from boarding school.
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.
Hodgson was set up in the recording studio as vocalist for the flower power pop band “Argosy”, which also included Reginald Dwight (later known as Elton John) on piano, Caleb Quaye on guitar, and Nigel Olsson on drums. 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.
Meanwhile (in 1969) a Dutch millionaire Stanley ‘Sam’ August Miesegaes had been providing financial support to a group called “The Joint”, but as he became disappointed with them he stopped support.
He then offered Swindon-born keyboardist Rick Davies, whose talent he felt had been “bogged down” by that group, an opportunity to form his own band, again with his financial backing.
Rick Davies put an advertisement in The Melody Maker, a weekly music newspaper, seeking musicians. After the break-up of “Argosy”, Roger Hodgson responded to the ad and Davies assembled Roger on bass and vocals, Richard Palmer on guitar and Keith Baker on percussion. The group initially dubbed themselves “Daddy”.
Percussionist Keith Baker was almost immediately replaced by former stage actor Robert Millar (b. 1950) and after several months of rehearsal at a country house in West Hythe, Kent, the band flew to Munich Germany for a series of concerts at the P. N. Club. One 10 minute performance there of “All Along The Watchtower” was filmed by Haro Senft (Supertramp Portrait 1970). The rehearsals had been less than productive, and their initial repertoire consisted of only four songs, two of which were covers.
To avoid confusion with another band with a similarly named “Daddy Longlegs”, the group changed its name to “Supertramp“, a moniker inspired by “The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp” by William Henry Davies.
Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson had radically different backgrounds and musical inspirations: Davies was working class and fiercely devoted to blues and jazz, while Hodgson had gone straight from private school to the music business and was fond of pop and psychedelia. Despite this, they hit it off during the auditions and began writing virtually all of their songs together, with Palmer as a third writer in the mix. Since none of the other band members was willing, Palmer penned all their lyrics.
The songs on Supertramp’s self-titled first album, released in 1970 on A&M Records, were written by Roger Hodgson, Rick Davies, and Richard Palmer. Palmer left shortly after that album’s recording, allowing Hodgson to switch 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.
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 album, “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.
Even though Roger and Rick shared writing credit, they each wrote and composed separately with each singing their own respective songs. Roger wrote many of the band’s hits while he was still in his teens, before he even met Rick. When Roger was with Supertramp, he would make a demo of the song and bring it to the band for them to learn their parts. Supertramp as a band never wrote and composed together.
There were only two songwriters for the band. Roger composed many of the songs that brought Supertramp worldwide acclaim such as “Give a Little Bit”, “Dreamer”, “Take the Long Way Home”, “Breakfast in America” and so many more. Roger still performs all of the classics and also selections from his several solo albums. There’s a Repertoire page on Roger’s website where you can read about his songs and how he composed them.
Supertramp saw four studio albums, numerous tours, and the worldwide success of “Breakfast in America” which has sold over 20 million copies. Three of Roger’s songs became worldwide hits – “The Logical Song,” “Take the Long Way Home” and “Breakfast In America.”
The Logical Song –
Many awards followed, among them the Ivor Novello Award in 1980 from The British Academy of Composers and Songwriters for “The Logical Song” being named the best song both musically and lyrically. To this day, “Logical Song” also has the distinction of being one of the most quoted lyrics in schools.
Aside from its great groove and clever lyrics, this song stands out for its wonderful arrangement, complete with the wailing saxophone of John Helliwell.
Roger parted company with Supertramp in 1983 after the “… Famous Last Words” album and mega rock stadium tour. Following his heart, he chose to live a simple lifestyle in nature with his family and pursue his spiritual values. He built a state of the art recording studio at home where he could continue to create music and be with his children as they grew up. His first solo album “In the Eye of the Storm” was released in 1984 and became an international hit, selling over 2 million copies.
In 1987, the same week that Roger’s second album “Hai, Hai” was released, Roger took a bad fall and shattered both of his wrists. Doctors told him he would never play music again, yet with faith and a long period of self-healing and physical therapy, Roger proved them wrong. Within a year and a half he was playing again.
In 2000, he released his next studio album “Open the Door” and in 2001, after taking many years off from touring to raise his children, Roger joined Ringo Starr in his All Star Tour. It is only since 2004, with his children fully grown, that Roger has felt the call to tour regularly again.
The legend is back and his signature voice is stronger than ever. Currently he is performing both public and private concerts in a variety of formats – solo, with backing band, and with symphony orchestra.
To date Roger continues to write music and lyrics when he is alone and has over 60 unreleased songs that he plans to record when the time is right. He compares his writing process to an artist painting a picture, keeping it close to his heart until the picture is complete before he shares it with the world. Often drawing upon his own life experiences, Roger’s songs convey personal messages which people around the world relate to.
“Give a Little Bit” was one of Princess Diana’s favorite songs and in 2007 Roger accepted an invitation by Princes William and Harry to sing it at the Concert for Diana at Wembley Stadium. It proved to be one of the highlights of the evening when the Princes and entire audience stood up and sang along to honor Princess Diana. Thirty-five years after writing this classic song, Roger received an award for the song being one of the most performed songs in the 2005 ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) repertory.
In 2007, he received this award again for a remake of “Breakfast in America.” Roger has donated his time and signature song “Give a Little Bit” to help raise funds for Tsunami Relief, Red Cross, UNICEF, World Vision, Hurricane Katrina efforts and other worthy causes.
In 2006, Roger released his first ever DVD from one of his live solo concerts in Canada. “Take The Long Way Home – Live in Montreal” went Platinum in just seven weeks and hit #1 in all of Canada and is now multi-Platinum and Gold in France. Featuring hits “Dreamer,” “Give a Little Bit,” “School,” “Breakfast in America,” “It’s Raining Again” (to name a few), and a bonus orchestral version of “Fool’s Overture,” this DVD is a stunning reminder of the musical genius of Roger Hodgson and brings into our hearts and homes the music and memories that have touched so many of our lives into our hearts and homes.