Saturday, March 16, 2013

'Roger Hodgson' Interview: The Legendary Voice and Lyricist of 'Supertramp'

By Ray Shasho

Roger Hodgson’s inspirational lyrics, enchanting vocals and virtuoso musicianship continue to astound audiences worldwide. Hodgson’s distinctive voice and profound musical arrangements have spawned numerous 'Top 40 Hits' for classic rock music legends Supertramp. Some of Roger’s most distinguished classics include, “Give a Little Bit,” “The Logical Song,” “Take the Long Way Home,” “Breakfast in America,” “Dreamer,” “School,” “It’s Raining Again,” and “Fool’s Overture.”

After performing to jubilant sold-out audiences worldwide, 'Supertramp’s Roger Hodgson' returns to the stage in 2013 on a new global excursion. Roger will be making a rare appearance at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida on Friday, March 22nd and for the first time in the U.S.; Hodgson will be performing with a Rock Symphony Orchestra.

After the release of their third studio album, Crime of the Century in 1974, Supertramp quickly captured the attention of music critics and aficionados across the globe. Crime of the Century was a superlative release. The creative writing collaboration of Hodgson and Davies, although contrasting, began a highly successful commercial period for a group comprised of highly esteemed musicians. The Roger Hodgson penned, “Dreamer” became Supertramp’s first big hit. The album also featured two beautifully composed arrangements by Hodgson entitled ...“Hide in Your Shell” and “If Everyone Was Listening.”

Supertramp became a sought-out concert attraction because of their awe-inspiring musical abilities and riveting onstage presence. Their shows often spotlighted a movie projection that displayed the Crime of the Century album cover, an image of two hands clutching jail cell bars while floating in space. The projection synchronized hypnotically with the music above the stage.

Subsequent albumsCrisis? What Crisis? (1975) and Even in the Quietest Moments (1977) which produced “Give a Little Bit” (#15 on Billboard’s Pop Singles chart).

In 1979, Supertramp released what would become their highest selling album, Breakfast in America. The album spawned four U.S. Billboard Hit singles… “The Logical Song” (#6 Hit), “Take the Long Way Home” (#10 Hit), “Goodbye Stranger” (#15 Hit) and Breakfast in America(#62 Hit). The album remained on top of the charts worldwide and eventually sold over 20-million copies, becoming one of the biggest selling albums of all-time.

Supertramp made an amazingly smooth transition from a progressive rock scheme over album-oriented rock airwaves to mainstream Top 40 radio, and without compromising or sacrificing musical integrity.

The bands next album, ironically entitled Famous Last Words (1982) would be the last featuring vocalist/lyricist/keyboardist and guitarist Roger Hodgson. The album reached #5 on Billboard’s Pop Album Charts and was certified Gold.

To date ... Supertramp has sold over 60- million albums.

Roger Hodgson officially left Supertramp in 1983 to pursue a solo career.

In 1987, after his second solo album was released, Hodgson fell and shattered both of his wrists. Doctors said he would never play music again, but his strong faith, positive thinking, self healing efforts and physical therapy would prove the medical profession wrong. Within a year and a half, Roger was playing his music once again.
Roger Hodgson released three solo albums since leaving Supertramp … In the Eye of the Storm (1984), Hai Hai (1987) and Open the Door (2000). He also released a live album entitled, Rites of Passage (1996).

In 2001, Roger was invited to play with Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band. The bands lineup also featured Ian Hunter (Mott the Hoople), Greg Lake (Emerson, Lake and Palmer), Sheila E., Howard Jones and Mark Rivera.

In 2006, Hodgson released his first ever DVD entitled, Take the Long Way Home –Live in Montreal. The solo release achieved platinum status in just seven weeks.

The following year, Roger accepted an invitation by Princes William and Harry to perform at the ‘Concert for Diana’ in front of an audience of 65,000 people at Wembley Stadium. “Give a Little Bit,” “Dreamer,” “Breakfast in America” and “It’s Raining Again” was among Diana’s favorite songs. The concert was broadcast in 140 countries around the world.

Roger Hodgson’s most recent release, “Classics Live” is an incredible collection of his live performances recorded from his '2010 world tour.'

There are also 60 unreleased songs that Roger plans to record when the time is right.

Tickets for Supertramp’s Roger Hodgson in concert with a Rock Symphony Orchestra at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on Friday, March 22nd are available at or by calling (727) 791-7400.

I had a wonderful opportunity to chat with Roger Hodgson recently before the launch of his worldwide tour. Roger’s music continues to inspire and offer hope for people everywhere. His spirituality and positive vibrations were definitely felt throughout our entire conversation. Roger is a true delight.

Hodgson was born in Portsmouth, England but left when he was twenty four years old. Now he calls Northern California his home.
Here’s my interview with Singer/Songwriter/Multi-instrumentalist/Co-founder of classic rock music legends SupertrampROGER HODGSON.
Ray Shasho: Hello Roger how are doing?
Roger Hodgson: “I’m doing great, how are you Ray?”
Ray Shasho: We’re all excited that you chose to perform at Ruth Eckerd in Clearwater before the world tour begins.
Roger Hodgson: “I hope the weather will be as nice as I now it usually is down there.”
Ray Shasho: The weather has been absolutely perfect Roger.
Roger Hodgson: “It’s going to be hard prying my band away from there I know it.”
Ray Shasho: Roger, are there particular mechanisms or traits that help you with your creativity and spirituality?
Roger Hodgson: “You nailed it actually … my spirituality is my compass. It affects the way I see life, the way I see music … and I really think of music as a service, my way to serve. I’ve always been service-oriented. The reason I’ve been touring now for almost ten years straight is because of what I feel I’m able to give to the audience and help people, because these are tough times. To take people on a musical journey and uplift them and give them some hope. Maybe take them on a journey where they can hear songs that will bring back some good memories for them. I think we’ve lost that aspect in the music world. My spiritual beliefs say that we’re here to give and serve rather than to rape and pillage.”
Ray Shasho: I was working in radio playing all those Supertramp hits during the bands most commercially successful period … and yes, those songs bring back wonderful memories.
Roger Hodgson: “It’s amazing that the songs I’ve written have stood the test of time. I can only attribute that for the fact they were not contrived, they really are pieces of my heart and soul that I put into songs. The music is where I went to express the stuff that was going on inside me … my joy, my pain, my confusion, my long for love, my long to know God. It really was where I went to commune. I didn’t know when I wrote most of them that the songs would touch so many people around the world. But I think music is an incredible way to connect with a lot of people, especially if you are expressing something that people can connect to. It’s that feeling I feel every night when I’m onstage. I know there’s a lot of people out there, I look out and sometimes see people crying and it’s obviously touching a nerve and can come from so many places. It can come from the fact that the song brings back memories for them or it’s saying something that is dear to their heart. It’s an amazing gift and I feel that I’m the most blessed man in the world and have the best job in the world. That’s what keeps me going, just to be able to give that.”
Ray Shasho: Your positive energy and spirituality remind me of another artist who I shared a similar conversation with …that being Jon Anderson. How do you maintain a positive outlook in such a difficult world?
Roger Hodgson: “Generally, I’ve always had a positive outlook. Nowadays it’s not really a naive outlook, maybe it was once, but I’m not in denial about all the challenges we’re facing in the world. I think mankind has to change and we’re just being forced to literally. We’re basically facing the survival of the planet in so many different ways. Life is getting very-very difficult, but again, it’s back to my beliefs and at the same time not taking things too seriously. And I’m not out there just to get the applause every night, I’m really out there to serve and give and that keeps me in a positive frame of mind.”
“The biggest job I have is preparing myself for when I go onstage. I’m no different than anyone else; I get stressed out and have things going on in my personal life and I can’t take that stuff onstage with me. So I have things that I do … the whole day is really in preparing myself for when I get on that stage, I’m empty and unencumbered by anything that’s distracting in my personal life, so I can sing from my heart and touch people in the deepest way possible.”
Ray Shasho: Roger, I ask this question to everyone that I interview. If you had a ‘Field of Dreams Wish’ like the movie, to play, sing or collaborate with anyone from the past or present, who would that be?
Roger Hodgson: “Claude Debussy is one. I think as a composer he definitely inspired me. For a long time when I was younger it was Stevie Winwood. Nowadays … there’s an obscure Norwegian-duo called ‘Secret Garden’ and the composer is very underrated and undiscovered. His name is Rolf Lovland. I think he’s a very gifted man and I’d love to work with him.”
Ray Shasho: Was there a particular thought process behind the naming of the Breakfast in America album?
Roger Hodgson: “Really, it was a song that I wrote when I was about eighteen or nineteen and it never felt like it belonged on any of the albums… didn’t belong on ‘Crime of the Century,’ ‘Crisis? What Crisis?’ Or ‘Even in the Quietest Moments’ but certainly we had a collection of songs that it would work on. So I suggested it, we recorded it, and it was such a great phrase that it obviously became the album title. But it was a good song that I wrote in about one hour. I had just bought myself a new pump organ, living in England, and so excited that I just started playing these chords and wrote any words that came to my head and that was Breakfast in America. I bought the organ for forty dollars, so it paid off.”
Ray Shasho: When I purchased Crime of the Century at my local record shop, I instantly knew that the band was exceptional and would eventually become very popular. One of your most beautiful and heartfelt compositions was on that album … “Hide in Your Shell,” describe your thoughts while writing the song.
Roger Hodgson: ““Hide in Your Shell” really was very introvert, I mean, I really did used to hide in your shell. I was very sensitive and sometimes felt very alone with the band. No one else really shared by beliefs or even had the questions of the drive and inner search that I had going on. So a lot of the things that I wrote about in that song really expressed what was going on in myself, almost a conversation with myself.”
“You’re right …it struck a nerve, if there’s one song that gets requested over many others, it’s probably that one. It seems to speak to a lot of people around the world who felt or have felt the same way. It expresses loneliness, it expresses alienation, it expresses hope, and it says love is the answer; everyone had been in a place where they’d been crying out for some kind of love in their life and it really just speaks to the human condition in a lot of different ways. And a lot of people have gone to it when they’ve gone through hard times and seek comfort from it. That quality as a songwriter gives me a lot of satisfaction and pleasure because I know other songs have done that for me in my life and it’s wonderful to have written a song that’s done that for other people in theirs.”
Ray Shasho: Like so many of us, you were a Beatles fan.
Roger Hodgson: “I was, as a teenager, that’s what was happening in the world and it changed my life because they showed me what was possible with music.”
Ray Shasho: So, when you were invited to play with Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band, it was probably a dream come true?
Roger Hodgson: “That was quite a kick. I never imagined that I would be doing that. It was wonderful to meet the man and hear some of the stories from his perspective and not the way the media portrayed it. But he’s a wonderful guy and it was a lot of fun and a great experience for me. It’s a great thing he’s doing and I know he gets so much out of it.”
Ray Shasho: Roger, here’s your last question, and I’m obligated to ask this one for all the die-hard Supertramp fans around the world. Do you think that a Supertramp lineup including Rick Davies and yourself will ever reunite for one last tour?
Roger Hodgson: “I think that time’s gone unfortunately. The great thing is that I’ve got so many people coming to my show that have seen the band in the past and are reliving the memories, because there’s so much of the spirit and the songs from Supertramp in my show and they can kind of relive the experience. And the younger generation who never got to see the band are being blown away from what they get from the concert. The band that I have with me is absolutely stunning and I’m so proud of them. They’re younger and so passionate and constantly trying to make the show better and better. A labor of love for all of us. That spirit really spills over into the audience. They can feel the enjoyment and I can’t say enough about the show.”
Ray Shasho: Roger, we’re looking forward to your show in Clearwater before the launch of the world tour. Thank you so much for being on the call today and for all the great music you’ve given to the world. I wish we could have chatted longer but I know you’ve got another interview to do.
Roger Hodgson: “Thank you Ray. You’re right, I could have talked with you for another hour, you’re very easy to talk to and a lot of fun. Come to the show so we can shake hands.”

Tickets for Supertramp’s Roger Hodgson in concert with a Rock Symphony Orchestra at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on Friday, March 22nd are available at or by calling (727) 791-7400.
Roger’s latest release ‘Classics Live’ is available at
Roger Hodgson official website
Roger Hodgson on Facebook
Roger Hodgson on Twitter
Roger Hodgson You Tube Channel

Very special thanks to Rissa Ciociola and Linda Tyler.

Coming up next … Recent interviews with guitar heroine LITA FORD (The Runaways) and British rock and blues legend ROBIN TROWER.

Contact classic rock music journalist Ray Shasho at

Purchase Ray’s very special memoir called ‘Check the Gs’ -The True Story of an Eclectic American Family and Their Wacky Family Business … You’ll LIVE IT! Also available for download on NOOK or KINDLE edition for JUST .99 CENTS at or - Please support Ray so he can continue to bring you quality classic rock music reporting. 

~~Pacific Book Review says Ray Shasho is a product of the second half of the 20th century, made in the USA from parts around the world, and within him is every trend in music, television, politics and culture contributing to his philosophical and comically analytical reflections collected in his fine book of memories. I found Check the Gs to be pure entertainment, fantastic fun and a catalyst to igniting so many memories of my own life, as I too am within a few years of Ray. So to all, I say if you have a bit of grey hair (or no hair), buy this book! It’s a great gift for your “over-the-hill” friends, or for their kids, if they are the history buffs of younger generations trying to figure out why we are the way we are.
© Copyright All Rights Reserved

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.