Foghat drummer honored for contribution to classic rock
Artist biography Roger Earl
Roger Earl was born in Hounslow, London, England on May 16, 1946. He is drummer with the band Foghat, famed for their relentless touring and strong live performances. A founding member, along with guitarist and vocalist "Lonesome" Dave Peverett, guitarist Rod Price, and bassist Tony Stevens, Roger Earl is the only living member to have continued with the band throughout all of their various incarnations.
Prior to founding Foghat, Roger Earl was a member of Savoy Brown from 1967 to 1970 and auditioned (unsuccessfully) for the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Other bands Earl played with, include Tramps, Mungo Jerry, New England Jam Band , and Kneetremblers.
Roger Earl still continues to tour with (a new incarnation of) Foghat, playing around 70 dates a year, specialising in city-fests, biker conventions and the "stay where you play" casino circuit, and lives with his wife Linda on the north shore of Long Island, west of Port Jefferson, well suited to Earl's fishing hobby.
The Earls are a musical family with Roger's brother, Colin Earl, playing electric piano for Mungo Jerry, including on their world wide hit "In the Summertime", as well as on a number of Foghat's uptempo hits.
Like many long time rock drummers Roger Earl now wears a hearing aid. His most notable trademark with Foghat was his enormous mustache that covered half his face which now he doesn't wear anymore.
Roger Earl is the man with the beat. Pounding his drums for over 35 years, this British rock ‘n’roller is partial to rock & blues (always has been). Born in England on May 16, 1946 Roger grew up in Hounslow (West London). He was a scruffy little sod...dirty and covered in mud from head to foot. Always getting into ‘things’, he would often be sent to bed without any tea.
Music was always encouraged in the Earl household. Small living room with a big piano. In the mid fifties, Dad introduced Roger to ‘Great Balls of Fire’ by Jerry Lee Lewis and the house was never the same. "Dad played piano somewhat in the style of Fats Waller but a bit heavier handed (wonder where I got it from?)." He later took Roger & brother Colin to see Jerry Lee around 1960 and it all began. He wanted to play Piano, but as it was usually occupied by Dad or Colin he started taking drum lessons at 13, for about 2 years. He bought his first Premier (Black Pearl) drum kit at 15 by saving money from after school part-time jobs.
After discovering Jerry Lee, there was Little Richard (what a great band!... the drummer was particularly impressive) and Chuck Berry, who was always on the turntable. He then discovered Muddy Waters and bought his record "Live at Newport". Muddy’s drummer Francis Clay was his first major influence . While hanging out at music stores in London he discovered blues greats like John Lee Hooker and...the list goes on.... Around this time he also heard Buddy Rich on a ‘Jazz at the Philharmonic’ recording and "it took my breath away".
At 17 Roger Earl joined his first band, a Blues R & B Band called the Tramps, made up of school friends Dave Hutchins, Ray Dorset and Dick Howe. They were together in various forms for about three years. Ray Dorset eventually formed a hugely successful band with Colin Earl called Mungo Jerry.
Roger Earl left school at 16 to pursue a career in commercial art in London. to support his ‘drum & cymbal habit’. He did this for about 4 years (quite successfully) until he joined Savoy Brown at the age of 20 ("I didn’t receive payment for the first 6 weeks from Savoy but at least I was ‘semi-pro’. I continued auditioning for other bands during lunch hours and after work during this time because I still wasn’t sure I had the job") He auditioned for people like The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and Jimi Hendrix, among others.
His five albums with Savoy Brown (one of the hippest blues-rock acts on either side of the Atlantic) between 1968 and 1970, were ‘Getting to the Point’, ‘A Step Further’, ‘Raw Sienna’ (which became a British Blues Classic), "Blue Matter’ and ‘Looking In’.
During a couple of lunchtime sessions, Roger Earl, Dave Peverett, Tony Stevens, Colin Earl and Bob Hall (Savoy’s Pianist) cut a rockabilly album called "Warren Phillips and the Rockets. He also played drums on Chris Jagger’s first album and Mungo Jerry’s debut album in 1970.
Savoy Brown did their first U.S. tour in 1968 with greats like B.B. King, Albert King, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Charlie Musselwhite, the J.Geils Band and saw great artists like Bobby Blue Bland and Buddy Guy. After touring the U.S. he knew he ‘was home’.
In December of 1970, Roger, Dave Peverett and Tony Stevens left Savoy Brown to form Foghat. They hooked up with Rod Price and released their first record in 1972 on the Bearsville Label (a subsidiary of Warner Brothers) and followed with their first U.S. tour. They became an immediate success, following up the gold debut with lots of other gold albums....Rock n’ Roll, Energized, Rock n’ Roll Outlaws. 1975’s Fool for the City, which included ‘Slow Ride’, made them superstars. They continued the gold with Night Shift, their 1977 ‘Foghat Live’ (which went Platinum) and Stone Blue. These were followed with Boogie Motel in 1979, Tight Shoes, In the Mood for Something Rude, Girls to Chat and Boys to Bounce and Zig Zag Walk.
By this time it was the mid eighties. Punk was in and musical tastes were going through a transition period. So were the members of Foghat who went their separate ways for a few years to pursue individual interests. Settled comfortably on Long Island, New York, Roger Earl admittedly ‘didn’t know how to relax’. He played with the New England Jam Band on weekends for a couple of years with people like James Montgomery, the Uptown Horns John Butcher, Charlie Farran, Fran Sheehan, Elliott Randall and Mark Rivera. He then toured with his own band for awhile
In 1993, the four original members of Foghat recorded ‘Return of the Boogie Men’ and they were on the road again. The road, as it always had been for this ‘most traveled’ hard rock blues band, proved still kind to them. Three generations of fans are still boogie-ing to their music. Their current live record ‘Road Cases’ is a great example that good rock and blues will never go out of style.
"Music is sound and emotion," says this most philosophical of drummers at age 52. "My heroes came from places like Mississippi and Chicago and sang about stuff I couldn’t quite understand when I was 15. But I knew I loved it. I belonged to a record club and I remember the first time I saw Howlin’ Wolf’s name on a big list of records I could buy. ‘Howlin’ Wolf?’ I thought, ‘He has to be great with a name like that.’ And I wasn’t disappointed. Roger has never forgotten his early influences and says that "the one thing you can’t ever forget is how to be a fan."
Roger Earl uses white marine pearl DW Drums with black hardware (two 24" bass drums, 6x14" snare drum, two rack toms - 12" & 14", floor toms - 15", 16" & 18"), Paiste Cymbals (Signature Series), Attack drum heads, and Pro-Mark "Roger Earl" signature drum sticks.
The man admits with his typically British wry storytelling sense, that there were times that he may have had "too much fun". And he’s learned from it well. But now, at 52, with daughters of 11, 16 and 30 and a three year old granddaughter, he’s achieved an inner philosophical sense which lets him expound on his wild times with wit and candor. "The one thing I don’t regret in my life," he says wistfully, "is having children. They’re the absolute joy and pleasure of my life. They’re the best. We’re very close."
Roger Earl has always, and still loves to fish. He goes fishing every chance he gets. He is also very active, rides his bike, runs and tries to stay as healthy as possible. He currently lives on Long Island on a houseboat on the harbor where he can keep an eye on the fish and watch the birds. S’nice. S’cool.
When asked what made him emigrate from London, England to Long Island, New York (of all places) he simply says: "When we got off the boat, it was the first place there."
Roger Earl is still hammering away.... still a noisy sod. And this rock ’n’ roll, road-warrior wouldn’t have it any other way.