Bad Company burst on to the hard rock scene in 1973 with a basic approach to rock and roll: heavy bass, killer guitar solos, and lyrics that get you singing along. Bad Company was formed by former members of the band Free; singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke, former Mott the Hoople guitarist; Mick Ralphs, and ex-King Crimson bassist; Boz Burrell. The quartet was managed by Led Zeppelin’s manager, Peter Grant, and were signed to Zeppelin’s label, Swan Song. Under Swan Song, they released the self-titled album, Bad Company, on June 26th, 1974. Read more about Bad Company and the release of their multi-platinum album that defined not only summer of 197,4 but the 1970s rock scene as a whole.
Contrary to the belief that the name Bad Company originated from the 1972 film with Jeff Bridges, Rodgers was inspired by a picture found in a book of Victorian morals that depicts an innocent child looking up at dark character leaning against a lamp post. The caption read, “beware of bad company”.
The album was recorded at Headley Grange; a mansion in Hampshire, England. Led Zeppelin used this studio, recording the tracks in a mobile unit parked outside. Led Zeppelin had to leave Headley Grange for a while, so their manager, Peter Grant, had Bad Company record there using the same setup with Ron Nevison, who was working on Physical Graffiti, as the engineer. They spent about two weeks recording at Headley Grange, where they captured the heavy rock and roll sound known to Bad Company.
According to an in-depth interview with Paul Rodgers by The Spinner in 2010, Rodgers and Kirke co-wrote the single and decided to name the song after the band name. “I thought it was interesting to come out as a brand-new band with its own theme song,” said Rodgers. Interestingly, the song shared the same chords and piano figures as Joni Mitchell’s song, “Woodstock”.
The American metal band, Five Finger Death Punch covered “Bad Company” on their album, War is the Answer. Although, they added a punch to the original track making it sound more like their own. They would play the song live from time to time until fans urged them to make an official recording.
Bad Company peaked no. 1 on the US Billboard 200, with their singles “Can’t Get Enough” and “Movin’ On” as their most recognized and chart-topping hits in 1974 and 1975. The album is certified five times platinum by the RIAA and spent 25 weeks on the UK Album Charts, reaching its highest position at no. 3. Songs such as “Rock Steady”, “Bad Company”, and “Ready for Love” are all classic rock radio hits that can be found on this unforgettable album.
Enjoy some Bad Company in the video above as they perform their hit, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy” from Red Rocks Amphitheatre in 2018.
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