Supertramp - 1970's rock band
Supertramp officially started up in 1969 thanks to young Dutch millionaire Stanley August Miesegaes. A friend of vocalist and keyboardist Rick Davies, he promised to pay for the Swindoner's band of his dreams.
Miesegaes (not at all a very common Dutch name by the way) provided the money for the assembly of a band, which was formed after Davies placing an ad in Melody Maker. Roger Hodgson went on to audition for Rick where he played Traffic's Dear Mr. Fantasy on his acoustic guitar. Hodgson was chosen for the job, but not principally because of his musical talents. Roger (the higher pitched voice of the two) found himself having a beer with Rick during a break and sharing their mutual musical dreams. They became friends and soon afterwards, started a band called Daddy. Six months later, at the suggestion of third member Richard Palmer (the fourth was Robert Millar), the band was renamed Supertramp after a 1910 cult classic titled Autobiography Of A Supertramp by W.H. Davies.
Their debut album was also called Supertramp (published by A&M) and the band played its first big gig at the Isle Of Wight Festival at the end of July ‘69. But then Palmer and Millar both quit the band and Supertramp released one other long-winded progressive rock album before Miesegaes also withdrew his support. With no money or fan base to rely on, the band was forced to redesign their sound. Coming up with a more pop-oriented form of progressive rock, the band had a hit with their third album, Crime of the Century. Members at the time included Bob Siebenberg, John Helliwell and Dougie Thomson.
Throughout the decade, Supertramp had a number of best-selling albums, wrapped up with their 1979 masterpiece, Breakfast in America. They launched their first world tour in February 1976. Breakfast in America marked their first album that tipped the scale completely in the favour of pop songs; on the strength of the hit singles Goodbye Stranger, The Logical Song, and Take the Long Way Home it sold over 18 million copies worldwide. The Supertramp sound was set permanently.
"Starting out, I always wanted something that could have something of the sound of a bluesy guitar. I began with a Hohner, but then switched to Wurlitzer - it's become, along with grand piano, something of a Supertramp trademark."
The keyboard wizards embarked on one more world tour, having played 108 dates by the time they reached Paris for a remarkable concert that was recorded and released as Paris one year later. After that album, Supertramp continued to develop a more R&B-flavoured style, but they soon ran out of hits. The last album by the classic Supertramp line-up turned out to be their Famous Last Words, quite appropriately.
"I was trying to find ways to bring the band back to life. I felt the spirit of the band had died. Personally we were not communicating or relating to each other with respect. Musically, the joy and the fun had disappeared. I look to a point half way through the Breakfast in America tour when the band stopped jamming during sound check. Usually, that was when we got to stretch out and have some fun. The crew loved it and fed off it. I believe it was when we still felt like we were a band because the shows had pretty much become the same every night. I think when the jamming stopped it was the death knell of the band. It began to feel like it was just a business. Some of the suggestions I was making at the time to try and revitalize the band were very threatening to everyone's security and added to the decision by the four of them to continue without me. And as I had threatened to leave quite a few times already, I saw it as my opportunity for freedom."
Roger Hodgson on leaving the band
In the following years Supertramp occasionally brought out albums, that were received as rather weak. Never they reached the quality standards they set themselves in the 1970's.
The Supertramp albums listed:
- Indelibly Stamped
- Crime Of The Century
- Crisis? What Crisis?
- Even In The Quietest Moments
- Breakfast In America
- Famous Last Words
- Brother Where You Bound
- Free As A Bird
- Classics Volume 9
- Live '88
- The Very Best Of Supertramp
- The Very Best Of Supertramp - Volume 2
- Some Things Never Change
- It Was The Best Of Times
Their greatest songs ever (and great they are):