ROGER HODGSON Interviews, The Split, 1983

ROGER HODGSON Interviews, The Split, 1983

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Supertramp: a band in transition

Scene
September 8-14 1983
by Joanne Draus
 

The press release for Supertramp's latest album, ironically titled FAMOUS LAST WORDS, contains a passage that in retrospect reveals much more than it was perhaps intended to. "They have always been resolute," says the release about the band's members, "in presenting themselves as a single unit, the individuals submerging themselves in a group identity."

This resolution may have been precisely the reason for Supertramp's co-founder's decision to leave the band in pursuit of a solo career following the completion of its current world tour - at least according to the co-founder himself, Roger Hodgson.

"I never really felt like a band," says Hodgson via phone from a hotel room in Winnipeg, Canada, where the group was performing one of its tour's 56 gigs. "They always felt like a band, but I felt like a solo artist in a band, although I really do believe in musicians playing together, obviously. I just felt very restricted to a certain set of musicians."

For more than twelve years, Hodgson's recognizable vocals, guitar playing and keyboard work were featured on Supertramp's eight albums - records that contained Hodgson-penned hits like "The Logical Song," "Give A Little Bit," "Take the Long Way Home" and "It's Raining Again." Yet, for the benefit of the group as a whole, the songs were credited to both Hodgson and the band's other co-founder, Rick Davies, the later of whom wrote some of Supertramp's lesser-known album cuts. Davies, however, will write all of the band's songs following Hodgson's departure.

"For a long time," says Hodgson, "we credited the songs to both of us because it was a psychological bond to keep the band together in the public's eyes as well as in the band's eyes, really. Now I'm regretting it a little bit because people don't realize that we've always written separately, and I'm having to start again by raising my solo profile."

Hodgson's solo project, tentatively titled SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY, is scheduled for release in spring of 1984 by the same record company for which Supertramp records, A7M. Hodgson says that while some of his solo material may sound similar to this work with Supertramp, due to his distinct vocal and songwriting styles, the similarities will be superficial.

He plans to experiment with sounds and instruments to create what he calls "a more spontaneous approach" to his music.

"I really am hungry to do some new things," says Hodgson. "The last Supertramp album really frustrated me a lot. I didn't think it was that great an album. It was certainly no progression from anything we'd done before. Supertramp, for me, has stopped being a vehicle in which I can grow. I found that I was stagnating, really. I'd like to have a more free-flowing thing, working with different musicians at different times on different projects."

Nevertheless, Hodgson's eagerness to develop his own career hasn't completely soured the musical and personal inter-relationships within Supertramp on its world tour. He claims, in fact, that the band's awareness of the approaching alteration is giving the tour "a real emotional twist, which makes the show very electric." Crowds are in turn flocking to see the shows, which are being publicized as the last Supertramp concerts with Hodgson. In Europe, Supertramp even broke the all time attendance record for an uninterrupted European tour, previously held by the Rolling Stones.

"I do feel very proud of what we've achieved," says Hodgson, "and I'm enjoying this tour, actually, more than any other tour I've done, which is ironic. But I just think this is going to be a vehicle for all of us to grow and expand with, musically and personally. Any divorce has a certain amount of pain to it, but basically, we all feel very positive about the decision and how it's going to affect each one of us."

The four remaining members of Supertramp -Davies, Bassist Dougie Thomson, drummer Bob Benberg and reedman John Helliwell - do indeed seem to feel positive about Hodgson's departure. Helliwell, who serves as the band's spokesman both on and off stage, claims that the group is in fact excited about the group's new configuration, which will not include a permanent replacement guitarist.

"We're all one fourth of the organization now," says Helliwell during a separate telephone interview from Chicago four days prior to Hodgson's call. "So now we have more of a say than we did when we were one fifth. We'll all be able to oversee all aspects of our careers now, from album covers to touring.

We're excited about our future, and it's good for Rog to have his own future too, because it's been getting further and further apart from the band's in the last few years.'

Supertramp's future albums, the first of which the band will begin recording following the completion of the tour, will reportedly be quite different from the band's old albums. Helliwell says that Davies' songwriting is more R&B influenced than Hodgson's, and that the band's style will compliment the songs with a 'heavier' sound.

"It'll probably take a little more listening than some of the more obvious pop type material we did. It'll take repeated listening," says Helliwell. "Roger wrote most of the numbers that became singles, and we won't have that side of Supertramp anymore. So perhaps it'll be more of an album band, or we might get lucky and have a single. Who knows?"

 


Supertramp Goes Out In Style

September 15th 1983
St Louis Post-Dispatch
By Louise King

Mixed emotions filled the Checkerdome amphitheatre on Wednesday night. Supertramp fans were overjoyed to see the band play here for the first time in more than eight years, but reluctant to say goodbye to lead singer/keyboard player/guitarist Roger Hodgson, who is leaving the group after 14 years to pursue a solo career.

Supertramp's current tour, the final one with its present lineup, marks the end of an era in rock music. The group went out as it came in - with style.The quintet has spared nothing in putting together its most spectacular show to date. To that end, the instrumental and vocal artistry of Hodgson, lead singer/keyboard player Rick Davies, reedman John Hilliwell, bassist Dougie Thomson and drummer Bob C. Benberg has been supplemented by two multitalented performers.

As a studio musician, Fred Mandel worked with stars like Diana Ross and Queen before joining the Supertramp tour. The Toronto native played keyboards and delivered a scorching guitar solo on "Don't Leave Me Now." Scott Paige, who hails from Los Angeles, found plenty to keep him occupied as he juggled guitar, sax, keyboard and percussion duties throughout the evening. Both contributed to the vocals as well.

The addition of Mandel and Paige had the intended effect - it filled gaps previously left in the live instrumental arrangements and freed the remaining members to concentrate on the vocal performance.The music was augmented, but never dominated by a series of splendid special effects, including three huge light tripods suspended over the stage and video clips periodically displayed on a mammoth screen above the crowd. Twice during the show members of the road crew appeared in costume to highlight a particular song.From the start, the differences that have finally brought songwriters Hodgson and Davies to a parting of the ways were obvious.

The show opened with Hodgson's "Crazy," from the 1982 release, "Famous Last Words," as the album's cover art was brought to life on the video screen.

The bright, up tempo tune is perfectly suited to Hodgson's light, spirited tenor, while Davies' funkier voice matched the moodiness of the next song, "Ain't Nobody But Me," featuring the dual saxophones of Helliwell and Paige.In the end, it was primarily Hodgson's songs that stirred the crowd.

Ovation after ovation was heaped upon the familiar "Breakfast in America," "It's Raining Again," "The Logical Song" and "Dreamer." But at no time was the emotion greater than when Hodgson, usually a non-talker on stage, shared his feeling about this final tour, and offered "Give A Little Bit" to thank everyone for the love shown him over the years.

The show had many highlights, including the audience's visual train ride via the video screen during "Rudy" and the full-length climactic performance of "Fool's Overture." The latter featured a unique blend of pretty vocals and strong rhythms, skillfully women around a tightly choreographed combination of video clips, sound and lighting effects and unusual costumes.

Only encores like "School" and "Crime of the Century" could follow it. As the crowd took its final video voyage of the evening this time to outer space, Supertramp took its final bow.

 


Supertramp's Hodgson to hit road

Rock
September 2nd 1983
By Jane Scott

You don't have a new challenge in your life? "Then you're not really living," believes Roger Hodgson of Supertramp.

Hodgson is creating his own challenge. He's leaving the British band at the end of this tour to so solo. The Coliseum concert Sunday September 11 is his final fling; the last time you'll see the present lineup.

Can Supertramp survive without lead singer-songwriter-keyboard player-guitarist-arranger Hodgson?Davies is the vocalist who has helped make Supertramp a double treat since 1969.

Supertramp is one of the few bands, which has two lead singers and two songwriters. They alternate, each singing his own songs.

"Yes. It will be different, but it will be exciting for them. We all feel good about it." Said Hodgson.
Says Supertramps' saxophone-clarinet player John A. Helliwell:Then, too, Rick Davies has a lot of new songs, Helliwell added.

"We don't have a replacement for Roger. He's irreplaceable. But we'll carry on without him."
Davies is the vocalist who has helped make Supertramp a double treat since 1969. Supertramp is one of the few bands, which has two lead singers and two songwriters. They alternate, each singing his own songs.

Hodgson and Helliwell were calling from separate phones in Lake Geneva, Wis.

So why is Hodgson cutting out? "I've been with Supertramp 14 years now. It's just reached the point where I can't learn any more from the group. I'm hungry to work with other musicians, join other projects, not be limited to any one grouping," he said.

"It's been building a feeling for four or five years now."

Hodgson isn't wasting much time.
He has his own company, Unicorn Productions, and a 48-track studio in Nevada City, California. He also has a backlog of about 70 songs he wants to record as soon as he can.

Hodgson will be taking his own Supertramp songs with him - crack tunes such as "The Logical Song," "Dreamer," "Hide in the Shell," "Give a Little Bit," "Breakfast in America," "Take the Long Way Home," "Crazy," and "Raining Again." Hodgson and Davies collaborated on Supertramp songs up through the 1974 "Crime of the Century" album, then wrote separately.

It's nice to have feedback from people around you, a bouncing board, but a personal statement has to be yours. And it's easier to sing a song with sincerity if you're singing your own feelings, he has found.
Davies as become stronger as an individual and as a songwriter, Hodgson said. "It will be good for him to be out from under my dominating personality.

And he's ready to take control. He has some fantastic songs ready to go," he added.

Davies has historically been the harder, more cynical side of Supertramp, Hodgson feels.

"He's got the harder voice, more intense, and very good. He wrote songs like 'Bloody Well Right,' 'Crime of the Century,' 'Goodbye, Stranger.'

There's a little more of a hard-edge to him. On the other hand, my voice is lighter. Lyrically we're pretty much the same," he said.

Ironically, Hodgson wrote the band's heaviest song, "Fools Overture," which is about the state of the world, mostly England.

There will be social commentary - "I don't like the word social, say planetary awareness - in my new songs," said Hodgson.

But he doesn't believe in dwelling on the negative.
"The world has never been so in need of hopeful feelings. They're hungry for joyful, uplifting music. I think it's a reaction to the unemotional, very machine-like, mechanical music that a lot of new music is doing today. But I think such music is a trend that will pass."

Hodgson's own music is difficult to pigeonhole, he feels.

"I do all kinds from epic pieces to pop songs. I think I'm going to make my music more spontaneous, more lyrically vital, more emotional, much more experimental," he said.

Some of his first solo album may sound a bit like Supertramp. But that is because Hodgson was the main arranger for Supertramp.

Hodgson's new project will just be called Roger Hodgson. He won't tour to support his first album, but expects to by the time the second on comes out.

"It's going slowly now. But I'll have Michael Shrieve, the old Santana drummer, on my first LP, and an old friend of mine from England, Ken Allardyce, on bass. I'll probably form my own group by the second album."

Supertramp will have two extra musicians, both sessions' men, onstage at the Coliseum. They will be Fred Mandel of Toronto on guitars and keyboards and Scott Page of Los Angeles on saxophone, guitars and percussion, Helliwell said.

Does Helliwell fell that Supertramp's sound has changed through the years?

"No, we're just ourselves. We've made our own little world of music. We don't consciously try to change. Well, perhaps it might be a little rockier than it was," he said.

Helliwell, born in Yorkshire, had been in a band called Alan Bown, which also included Robert Palmer and Jess Roden. Then he put an 'advert' in Melody Maker.

"It said 'Have sax will travel.' Supertramp called me," he said. Interesting, because Supertreamp earlier put an ad in Melody Maker. "It said 'GENUINE OPPORTUNITY' in big letters. Rick had put it in. And here's a twist. My mother (Jill) saw it and pushed me to go to the audition," said Hodgson. But then it was his mom who had hid his father's guitar when they were divorced so Hodgson could have it some day and she helped the group along in drab days.

"We've always made our own rules. We never kept the rules," Hodgson said. The band released albums when it wanted to, not because a record company insisted. (It didn't have a record company) and it headlined its first American tour in 1974.

Supertramp started out with a benefactor, a rich Swiss, who had supported another Davies band before Supertramp. "But after the sponsor was dropped, we struggled and paid our dues. We told John to keep his job at the gas station, though. One time we actually ground to a halt and split, for two days. We failed; lets knock it on the head, we said. But then along came Dougie Thomson, our bass player. He had a lot of business sense. We sold our equipment for recording equipment and made a demo," said Hodgson.

A&M records management liked what it heard on the eight-track and financed the group through the next six months. It paid off. The album, "Crime of the Century," went to No 1 in England. The band had lived together those recording months. What does "Crime of the Century" mean? "We've never really given a satisfactory answer," evaded Hodgson.

"A lot of people consider it a concept album. Actually it did fall together, but it took a long time to find the right songs and put them in order," Hodgson said.

Hodgson lives on a 240-acre plot. "I love to drive my tractor. It's a very necessary balance for me, to get out in the fresh air," he said. Hodgson's daughter, Heidi, 4, was born just 12 minutes before one of their 1979 gigs. "Nothing like that has happened again. But our excitement is getting out before an audience. And I've never been as excited before as with my new challenge," he said.

 


Supertramp: The End of an Era?

Jam The Music Magazine
September 1983
By David Huff

Roger Hodgson, the lead singer and principle songwriter of Supertramp, sat comfortably in his Northern California home. The band had just completed a three-month European tour that Hodgson called "one of the most enjoyable tours that we have ever done," and in a few days, he would rejoin his fellow, "Tramps" to embark on the bands' first tour of the United Stated in four years.There has been a lot of commotion stirred in the press about the Supertramp 1983 World Tour, and deservedly so. It is the last time Hodgson will ever appear on the stage with a band that he, and the other force behind Supertramp, Rick Davies, founded over a decade ago. Hodgson announced a few months ago he was retiring from the band to pursue a career as a solo artist and to work with other musicians outside of the Supertramp framework.

"Initially, I thought about doing solo projects outside of Supertramp and still be part of the band," offered Hodgson quietly, "and that could have been possible. Actually, that was my intention to do that."

"We are at a point now where Rick and myself, the two writers, the two forces within the band, where for many reasons, we kind of need to get divorced before we can be friends again. That is what I call it.
It's not working being tied to each other contractually and having to make albums rather than make albums because we want to. "I am certainly open for the future. Maybe three or tour years down the line, we will feel like working together. But, at the moment, it is pretty clear that we need to go and spread our wings."

To say that Hodgson won't be missed from the Supertramp line-up is a gross understatement. Hodgson has penned some of the classic Supertramp songs, like "Fool's Overture," "School," "Dreamer," "The Logical Song," "Give A Little Bit," "Take the Long Way Home," and "Breakfast in America," to name a few.

Because of the tremendous amount of airplay those songs have received, subsequently, Hodgson has become known as the 'voice' of Supertramp.

To set the record straight, Hodgson had actually decided to retire from Supertramp after the band's strenuous Breakfast In America tour in 1979, which he says, nearly destroyed the band mentally and physically.

"Up until Breakfast In America, there really were magical feelings when writing and recording Supertramp material," said Hodgson as he pointed in the direction of the platinum Supertramp albums that decorate the wall of his modest secluded home some 500 miles north of Los Angeles.

"We had a very close kind of family feeling for a long, long time really, up until Breakfast In America. Breakfast is really where it started diverging and everyone started looking outside the Supertramp music for their personal happiness and fulfillment.

Perhaps today's situation wouldn't have existed had Supertramp not recorded Breakfast in America?

'No, I am very, very happy that it did happen," Hodgson said quickly. "It is a great album. It wasn't really so much the album; it was the nine-month marathon tour that followed it. We did 120 shows in nine months and almost killed ourselves and killed the band as well.

It was during that tour really that the songs began to sound very, very tired and very, very old. I felt like I needed to do something else and probably should have gone and made the decision to leave straight after that tour at the end of '79. However, it wasn't the time to talk after the tour, so we took two years off and got back together again, did another album….Famous Last Words, to see if it would work again. It didn't."

The failure of..Famous Last Words to duplicate the success of Breakfast In America shouldn't be considered the final nail that was driven into the Supertramp coffin as far as Hodgson was concerned.

As he is careful to point out, even though..Famous Last Words was a traumatic experience to record, there are other albums in Supertramp's past that also proved very difficult to deal with as far as the band was concerned.

"Really, it comes down to what is happening in one's life at the time an album is recorded as to whether a project is magical or it's not," said Hodgson dutifully. "Breakfast was magical, Crime of the Century, was magical, Crisis, What Crisis, there was a lot of crisis things happening in our personal lives and it didn't go the way that we wanted it. Even in the Quietest Moments was pretty traumatic. It didn't come out exactly the way we wanted it.

"The albums that are successes really stem from having a good time making them. There are a set of circumstances that make for a chemistry that makes magic, and I think that that is the main ingredient. You can never tell when that is going to happen." Supertramp started out like so many English bands in its day, a couple of aspiring musicians who meet and find that musically they both gel together. In the early years, Davies and Hodgson had a difficult time finding the fight musicians to make the music that today is instantly recognizable around the world.

"It was very tough to find the right musicians to make Supertramp in the beginning," recalled Hodgson. "It took about five years to do and many, many auditions. We must have seen over 400 drummers, 50 bass players, and about 50 guitarists.

For the first five years, I was constantly changing from bass guitar to lead guitar just because we couldn't find whichever one at the time, and whichever one we couldn't find, I would take up that instrument."

Supertramp finally stabilized with Even in the Quietest Moments. That album spawned two tremendous single, the title song and "Fool's Overture," that brought Supertramp to the attention of the world.

"When Supertramp started out, we never had a conscious goal apart from just trying to do everything the best way that we could." Said Hodgson. "There are a lot of perfectionist in the band, myself included, so everything that we did, we tried to do the best job that we could. Other than that, probably achieving success is the thing that held us all together."

And as success held Supertramp together, at the same time it nearly destroyed them. For years, the members of Supertramp were absorbed with only their music, say Hodgson, and they had a very close family feeling. After the monumental success of Breakfast In America and the marathon tour that ensued that is when the band began looking outside the Supertramp music for their personal happiness and fulfillment.

"Money had a lot to do with the attitude change in Supertramp. In fact, it changes your attitude about a lot of things," said Hodgson. "From thinking in terms of the band, once we achieved success with Breakfast In America, we took some time off, and it was the first time that we had a chance to have a homelife and get into our own individual lives. We started thinking individually rather than as a collective band.

I think that the biggest challenge an artist can have is success, and especially financial success, because money brings with it a whole different set of challenges. It is very easy for it to consume you, not only in how you are going to spend it, but it takes a lot of looking after. Before you know it, it really does control your lifetime wise.

Financial independence is very, very difficult to master. You just don't have any time for anything else. You tend to want to buy your own house, move away from a life, the lifestyle of the people you sing to. You kind of isolate yourself and lose touch with the way people you sing to are feeling from day to day. It is very easy for you to lose your perspective and I think for us, money really did that."

…Famous Last Words was a last ditch attempt by Hodgson to regain the magical feelings the Breakfast In America tour had destroyed. Unfortunately, the magic turned into a bit of horror, and even though the album did spawn a couple of hit singles, "It's Raining Again," and "Crazy," overall, …Famous Last Words was a dismal failure for the band. "You're right, I wasn't happy with our last album," said Hodgson with a tinge of sadness in his voice. "From what I knew it would have been, it falls way short. I don't think that it is progression of anything that we have done in the past, and I don't think that it really hangs together. As far as running order goes,…Famous Last Words is a prime example of wrong sequence. You have got "Crazy," you've got "Old Brown Shoe," which is a nice transition there, and then should go somewhere else, but it doesn't. It kind of goes back to a track that probably should have opened the side, "It's Raining Again." There is no bitterness or inner band hostilities connected with what could be billed as a Farewell Tour of the original Supertramp. The band understands why he should pursue other musical avenues and do it alone he says.

"There were only a couple of times on the European tour that when I saw the reaction of the people towards our music and how they obviously love it and the band, that I got a little sad knowing that this would be the last time that I would be performing with Supertramp." Admitted Hodgson. "I am a little sad, but I am not sad for us. I just know that this is necessary to keep us, and especially myself, growing and producing music that is going to make other people happy.

Perhaps Supertramp is too challenging for me now. It is really at a point now where for freshness and new growth, I need to find other musicians to work. I have gotten as much as I can from this collection of musicians. I still have a real deep love for them and them for myself, but I feel I need to work with other musicians for my creative growth." There are a lot of people who will never understand Hodgson's decision to leave Supertramp. He is in fact irreplaceable, but life will go on for himself, and the band. "Whatever I say, people are going to draw their own conclusions," summed up Hodgson after a few seconds of thought. "But there is sense to what I am doing."
"Each goal that you try to attain in life, it's the achieving of it that is the fun part. Once you have achieved this hanging onto it for grim life, there is no happiness in that really unless it is still giving you something. If it's not, then you might as well go out and find a new mountain to climb, or a new goal to chase. I am very proud with what I have achieved with Supertramp, and I'm not trying to run away from it.

 



Pomp and Puddles

Daily Express
July 13 1983
By Derek Jewell

Waiting for Supertramp seems to have been a pastime of flash-rockers since time was much younger. It took them six years to break through with "Crime of the Century" in 1974. It's taken them three-and-a-half years to get on the road again.

And they were an hour late at Earls Court on Wednesday when a 17,000 trance of the million who are seeing them this time around were in ecstasy at their spectacular two-hour reincarnation. Pomp rock dead? Don't make me laugh. Pomp is alive and burning as the near-certainty that a ticket promising a support band would turn out not to deliver - unless the "support" was the piano-tuner who appeared at 8.40, and the unedifying sight of roadies swarming up rope-ladders.

Still, when Super T finally made it, they gave superb value. With seven musicians a-playing, and the heart of the band - lead singers Dick Davies and the departing Roger Hodgson, with reeds player John Helliwell - in great form, the symphonic synthesized extravaganzas and the neat, sharp, brittle quickies like "Dreamer" and "Logical Song" kept a-rolling juggernaut-fashion.

The show was framed in a splendidly pyrotechnic set - lights used with arty bombast and the film clips were diverting, if seldom inspiring, except for the sudden sight of Churchill declaiming, "We shall defend our island - we shall never surrender", during the powerful climax.

This statement was as wildly cheered as finally were Supertramp, and indication perhaps that the factions of pomp and punk are as deeply divided as they keep telling us England is; and that, in the end, pomp rules as Margaret Thatcher does.

 



Sick of the same old songs

The Sunday Times
July 3rd 1983

Roger Hodgson, founder member and multi-instrumentalist in millionaire band Supertramp, has admitted he is relieved to be leaving the group he launched 13 years ago. "We argued about a lot of petty thing," he reveals.

"Making our last album Famous Last Words took 16 months, which was an emotionally difficult time. We were sick of listening to the songs after four months. It was an awful strain." Hodgson says the reason he finally decided to leave Supertramp was to make records with more spontaneity.

"We had already gone our separate ways when we decided to have one more try with the last album. It didn't work. I call it a divorce. Rick (Davies) and I had learned as much as we could from each other.

We've always had a strange relationship - a deep love for each other - but we're different characters."
Hodgson, a former Stowe public schoolboy, has always been less enthusiastic about showbiz razzmatazz than the rest of Supertramp. He lives reclusively with his wife Karuna, and two children in a village near Lake Tahoe in California. "I don't know if we'll ever come back to Britain," says the Oxford-born star. "England has a better education system than America - but I won't be sending my children to public school."

Hodgson was the driving force of Supertramp's music, being responsible for much of the success of albums like Breakfast in America and Crime of the Century. Their LPs have sold 40 million copies worldwide. His first 'solo' album will be called Sleeping With the Enemy, and is due out next year.

 


 

The royal accolade that came too late…

By Moira Petty

Supertramp, the tax exile millionaire rock group, received the royal seal of approval yesterday - just a few weeks too late. Princess Diana named the 13 year-old supergroup as one of her favourite bands this week. She may not have known that earlier this month, when she was in Canada, Roger Hodgson, the man whose song writing skills have been central to Supertramp's worldwide success announced he was quitting. And without him, Supertramp will never be the same. "Being in a rock band is just like a marriage," 32-year-old Roger explained. "We began arguing about petty things." "Making our last album, Famous Last Words, took 16 months, which was an emotionally difficult time. It was an awful strain."

The price of being at the top of the rock music world took its toll and the band decided on a trial separation. "We thought we'd give it one more try and make the new album. But it didn't work. I call it a divorce." Ex-Stowe public schoolboy Roger, who lives on the edge of Lade Tahoe with his wife and two children is planning a solo album, and says he wants it to be more spontaneous than the predicable heavy rock Supertramp have been churning out.

Critics Supertramp whose line-up includes Rick Davies on keyboard, Dougie Thompson on Bass, John Helliwell on saxophone and drummer Bob Benberg, haven't always gone down with the critics, who complain they play music for pensioned off hippies. But somehow they've managed to attract a very young audience to add to the fans that have stayed with them since the Seventies. It was after leaving England for the States in 1976 that Supertramp tasted success. Their eight LPs, including best-seller albums Crime of the Century and Breakfast in America sold 60 million copies.

Split Money was also one of the reasons for the split. "When you become as big as we were, you cease to be a band. You become a business," says Roger Hodgson. "I spent more time dealing with money than enjoying it." On this sad note Hodgson bows out and though the remaining members vow to keep Supertramp afloat, it's doubtful they will manage without the man whose distinctive voice and songs made them what they are.

 



Faceless five who sound just right for Diana

Daily Express
July 14th 1983
By David Wigg

Four years ago the Three Degrees all-girl pop group attained royal approval when Prince Charles, their No 1 fan, invited them to his 30th birthday party at Buckingham Palace. Since then Charles, who actually prefers classical music, has shown a predilection for Status Quo and next week he will be taking Princess Diana to a charity concert in London, given by Britain's top group Duran Duran. But an off-the-cuff answer that the group Diana really prefers is Supertramp. Known as the faceless five because of their quest for anonymity, this British rock group is one of the hottest sounds around.

Admirers It is perhaps no surprise that Supertramp are the Princess of Wales's favourite. Through their reflective, contemporary rock songs they attracted a massive following of female admirers. By their own choice, little is known of the individuals other than their musical backgrounds. The group is made up of Roger Hodson from Buckingham (shortly to leave), Richard Davies from Swindon, Dougie Thomson from Glasgow, John Helliwell from Yorkshire and Bob Benberg from California. They have sold more than 60 million albums world-wide. But selling millions is no match for receiving the royal seal of approval.

 


 

Roger's last words as Supertramp split

Sunday Mail
3rd June 1983
By Clive Ranger

It looks like the end of the road for Supertramp, the American-based British band who last week played to 180,000 fans over three nights in London. Roger Hodgson, the man who wrote nearly all of the band's world-wide hits, is leaving to go solo. It is 13 years since Hodgson and his close friend Rick Davies formed Supertramp. They lived in a squat and took odd jobs to buy petrol for their broken down van. Often they couldn't even afford enough food. Then can success.

Now, after four multi-million selling albums and massive world tours that success has created a rift between Hodgson and Davies, which will never be mended. 'We've drifted apart both musically and emotionally,' says Hodgson. 'After the amazing success of the Breakfast in America album and tour, we were all shattered. It was the toughest tour we'd ever done. By the 30th show the band was tired and so was the music. We all felt there was something missing. So we decided to go our separate ways - for a time.'

They came together again to record their album Famous Last Words, but relationships were strained. And the end was in sight long before they began their current tour. The band's success and the torrent of money from record sales, royalties and mammoth tours have, admits Hodgson, created problems. 'When you become as big as we were, you cease to be a band, you become a business.

And if you don't have the organization to deal with it the money disappears as fast as it come in. I spent more time dealing with money than enjoying it.

 


 

The clash within Supertramp

By Steve Pond
Rolling Stone

Twelve years ago, Roger Hodgson answered an ad Rick Davies had placed in 'Melody Maker.' He went to an audition, played "Dear Mr. Fantasy" on his acoustic guitar, and the two hit it off. That was the start of Supertramp and of a relationship between Hodgson and Davies that has led to eight albums, several hit singles and enough frustration to nearly ruin the band.

Starting in about 1974, the songwriting partners began to drift apart: Hodgson took up yoga and moved to a small northern California town; his former roommate stayed in Los Angeles.

Last year, they suffered through one final album - appropriately entitled "…famous last words…" before deciding that Hodgson had to go. He's now recording a solo album, 'Sleeping with the Enemy,' and will play one last tour with Supertramp this summer.

After that, the band - minus Hodgson - will record 'Brother, Where You Bound?" once planned as a Davies solo record. Hodgson, who wrote such hits as "The Logical Song," "Give a Little Bit" and "It's Raining Again," recently elaborated on the rift.

What was the main problem between Rick and you?

It's always been difficult for us to communicate. It's a funny dichotomy: we understand each other very well and communicate very poorly. We were always very different, but when you're younger, single, going through similar problems and are together daily, you just feel much closer. And in the old days, we were both much more insecure musically. We needed each other. But Crime of the Century was really the last album we collaborated on; after that, the songs became more personal, and we were involved in different lifestyles.

Over about eight years I was becoming a vegetarian, trying to turn the world on to vegetarianism, getting into yoga and different philosophies. I'd be into them with all my heart and soul, and it just freaked him out. Also, I've always been the more forceful and stronger of the two, so my desired usually got their way. Rick's exploded from time to time, but mostly he bottles it up, and it's been a source of incredible frustration to him.

When did you finally decide to leave?

After the last album. All of the albums have been difficult to record, but a sense of togetherness always forced its way through. With this one, it was very difficult to make any headway, and the best songs fell by the wayside. Recording was not enjoyable; it ground to a halt several times. It told us all that something had to change.

For a long time, I'd been upsetting the apple cart by saying that we needed fresh energy in Supertramp. But ultimately, Rick and the other guys realized that they wanted to stay together, and they didn't want what I wanted. It was obvious that there was only one solution.

Now that we've separated, we're probably more open that we've ever been before.

Will you solo record sound less like Supertramp than Rick's album?

Actually, it'll probably sound more like Supertramp, because my voice is better known. Both albums will sound like Supertramp, but I hope it will be Supertramp at its best rather than at the compromise level of the last album.

 



Supertramp's Hodgson Neither Here nor There

The Los Angeles Times By Dennis Hunt

Roger Hodgson, a key member of the superstar pop/rock band Supertramp, is in a ticklish situation.

He's leaving the band but not until after its next tour. So for the next few months, as a lame-duck member, he has to work with Rick Davies (vocals/keyboards), Dougie Thomson (bass), Bob C. Benberg (drums) and John Helliwell (saxophones, synthesizers). At the offices of Hollywood based A&M Records one recent afternoon, Hodgson officially announced both his departure from Supertramp and plans for the international tour, which begins in Europe June 1 and includes late summer concerts in America.

Hodgson, a mild-mannered 33 year-old Englishman, was quite nervous that day. He was well aware that any unduly critical statement might irritate his colleagues and generate tension that would make it uncomfortable to tour with them.

"The media could do a lot of damage in this case," he noted. "I can see this story coming out and one of the band members calling me and saying, 'What the hell did you say that for?' I want my last days with this band to be a pleasant as possible. Though Hodgson's exit is just being officially announced now, he actually made the decision last October.

But with the group's Top 10 albums. "Famous Last Words," and Top 10 single, "It's Raining Again," in release during the Christmas season, the band and its publicist wanted to avoid all negative publicity. So they decided to keep Hodgson's departure a secret.

Why is he revealing the secret now?
His motives are primarily commercial. A few weeks ago he began recording a solo album - consisting of a few new songs and some material left off the "Famous Last Words" album - that should be released just in time for the summer tour. "A tour is the ultimate commercial tool for promoting an album," he explained. "I'm not going to do a solo tour, so the best way to publicize the album is through a Supertramp tour. The smart thing for me to do is get that album finished, put it out and talk about it with the media on tour." Hodgson is relieved that he won't have to do a solo tour just yet. The prospect of performing as the star of his own band frightens him because he's not used to it.

In Supertramp shows he's not the front man and neither is Davies. This is probably the only major band in which the chief singer/songwriters hide in the background while one of the sidemen - John Helliwell - handles the patter.

Losing Hodgson will be a blow to supertramp. Not only does he sing and play guitars and keyboards but also most important, he writes half the songs. Davies writes the other half. This impressive creative team, in high gear since Supertramp's dazzling third album, "Crime of the Century," in 1974, has finally been undone by friction. If Hodgson had followed his instincts he would have left the band years ago.

His dissatisfaction with Supertramp became acute in 1979 during the band's last tour, which promoted "Breakfast in America," the imaginative pop/rock album that transformed this into a superstar band.

"That tour didn't feel right," he recalled. "It was evident that we had gone as far as we could. I had been trying to make changes in the band for years, but I wasn't getting anywhere. There was a growing feeling that Rick and I weren't bringing out the best in each other. But we decided to give it one last shot." That last project was "Famous Last Words."

Though this album was big hit, Hodgson now apparently regrets staying with the band to work on it. "We started it in 1981, and it took about a year and a half, " Hodgson pointed out. "It was a painful process for all of us. I wanted to get some fresh musical energy into the band, either additional or different musicians, but Rick didn't want that. Things had reached the point of stagnation.

We didn't really fight. But there were those long silences. The album took so long because of all the tension."

In Hodgson's opinion, all that conflict was detrimental to "Famous Last Words" "In that atmosphere of stagnation, the only songs we could agree on were the light songs. Of course, we wanted the music to have more depth and substance, but we just couldn't do meatier songs in that kind of atmosphere.

"There were a lot of incredible songs that didn't get on the album. Rick has a 12-minute epic that's probably the best thing he's ever done. It was going to be on the album, but the whole experience was so unpleasant that he felt he didn't want to put his masterpiece on an album where the vibes were so bad during the sessions.

"We just couldn't dome together on a level where we could do something of substance. So it seemed like Supertramp was turning into a light pop band. The album turned out to be much lighter than we wanted it to be. I was disappointed in it, knowing what it could have been."

When trying to explain his conflict with Davies, Hodgson was rater vague: "I can't narrow it down to one thing. It's just that when we get into the studio it just doesn't work anymore. Rick and I have been working together over 12 years and I know I've been stifling Rick for the last 10 years. I've always been the one to get my way.
"Our writing styles are contrasting, but that was a plus. There were these two writing styles bouncing off each other, creating these interesting tensions.

There was always this sense of competition between us. It was healthy for the band for years. Then all of a sudden things weren't working. The magic was gone. The fun was gone. I don't really know what happened.

I guess we've all changed, grown apart over the years. I just know I didn't want to be in this band anymore.

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