Roger Earl is the man with the beat. Pounding his drums for over 40 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). 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. Roger 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 he said…”it took my breath away”.
At 17 Roger 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. They became the backup band for Jackie Edwards, who was signed to Island Records and had written numerous hit records including ‘Keep on Running’ by SPENCER DAVIS. He was a great guy to play with. Ray Dorset eventually formed a hugely successful band with Colin Earl called MUNGO JERRY.
Roger 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, Dave Peverett, Colin Earl, Bob Hall (Savoy’s Pianist) and others, 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 Band and Buddy Guy. After touring the U.S. he knew he ‘was home’.
In December of 1970, Roger and Dave Peverett 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 Double 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 the early 80’s, Punk was in and musical tastes were going through a transition period. Rod Price had left the band (replaced by Erik Cartwright) and Lonesome Dave had returned to England. Settled comfortably on Long Island, New York, Earl admittedly ‘didn’t know how to relax’. He played with the New England Jam Band on weekends for awhile with people like James Montgomery, the Uptown Horns John Butcher, Charlie Farran, Fran Sheehan, Elliott Randall and Mark Rivera. But soon the remaining three members, Roger, Craig and Erik began touring again as Foghat.
In 1993, the four original members of Foghat reunited at the request of producer Rick Rubin. Although the project with Rubin never materialized, they recorded ‘Return of the Boogie Men’ and 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 were still boogie-ing to their music. By 1999, Rod had left the band again (replaced by Lonesome Dave’s great friend Bryan Bassett) and Lonesome Dave became seriously ill. He passed away on February 7, 2000. After several months of not knowing what to do, and a great deal of pressure to keep the band alive, Roger contacted Charlie Huhn and asked him to join the band. The rest is history in the making. Now, 7 years later with a studio CD (Family Joules), a new DVD (The Official Bootleg Vol.!) and a new Double Live CD ‘LIVE II’ the band is doing better than ever!
“Music is sound and emotion,” says this most philosophical of drummers. “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 uses white marine pearl DW Drums with Black Hardware….(two 24″ bass drums, 3″ x 14″ Bronze snare drum, two rack toms – 12″ & 14″, floor toms – 15″, 16″ & 18″), PAISTE Cymbals (Sig Series), and PRO-MARK “Roger Earl” 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, with daughters of 27, 32 and 45 and a nineteen 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 has always, and still loves to fish. He goes fishing every chance he gets. He is also very active, rides his bike, hikes 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.
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. He says, in the immortal words of Lonesome Dave Peverett, “I’m gonna roll til’ I’m old, gonna rock til’ I drop!
“Getting to the Point” 1968 – Decca LK/SKL 4925
“Blue Matter” 1968 – Decca LK/SKL 4994
“A Step Further” 1969 – Decca LK/SKL 5013
“Raw Sienna” 1969 – Decca LK/SKL 5043
“Looking In” 1969 – Decca SKL 5066
Warren Phillips & The Rockets*
“The World of Rock & Roll” 1970 – Decca (S)PA 43
What A Shame/Hole To Hide 1972 – Bearsville K 15501
Long Way To Go/Ride Ride Ride 1974 – Bearsville K 15511
Step Outside/Maybellene 1974 – Bearsville K 15517
Slow Ride/Save Your Lovin’ (For Me) 1976 – Bearsville K 15522
“FOGHAT” (Self titled, first album) 1972 – Bearsville K 45503
“FOGHAT” (Rock&Roll) 1973 – Bearsville K 45514
“Energized” 1974 – Bearsville K 55500
“Rock & Roll Outlaws” 1974 – Bearsville K 55502
“Fool For The City” 1975 – Bearsville K 55507
“Night Shift” 1976
“Stone Blue” 1978
“Boogie Motel” 1979
“Tight Shoes” 1980
“Girls to Chat & Boys to Bounce” 1981
“In the Mood for Something Rude” 1982
“Zig-Zag Walk” 1983
“Return of the Boogie Men” 1994
“Road Cases” 1998
“The Best Of Foghat” 1991 – Sequel NEX CD 141
“The Best Of Foghat – Vol 2″ 1992 – Rhino RZ 705160
“The King Biscuit Flower Hour” 1999 – King Biscuit Flower Records
“Family Joules” 2003
“Live at the Blues Warehouse”/ “NOT Live at the BBC” 2007
“Last Train Home” 2010