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Bad Company, Joe Walsh make good companions for summer tour
Bad Company and Joe Walsh go back a long way -- by Paul Rodgers' reckoning to a mid-70s party in Mailbu. And the relationship has stayed friendly ever since.
So it didn't take much effort for the two to join forces for this summer's One Hall of a Night Tour, a pairing of classic rock fixtures that lives up to its billing with an evening full of enduring hits along with virtuoistic guitar playing by Walsh and singing by Rodgers.
"I suggested that we tour together because we've always talked about doing something somewhere down the line, and this is a good opportunity for that to come together," Rodgers, 66, says by phone from his home in Vancouver.
Walsh, 68, adds that, "We thought it would be mightier together than either of us (touring) individually. The agreement was nobody's opening. We drew straws about who plays first and split that up, let go of our egos and it all worked out good. It's a great evening.
The tour has been accompanied by a modicum of drama, however. Shortly after the tour was announced Bad Company founding guitarist Mick Ralphs opted out, not feeling up to the rigors of a North American trek; Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes is taking his place. Walsh, meanwhile, is making his first road trip since the death of Eagles bandmate (and Royal Oak native) Glenn Frey in January; He's paying tribute to Frey each night with a performance of the Eagles' "Take It To the Limit."
All told, however, it's a tour that equals more than the some of its parts, but as it heads towards town we thought we'd take a look at some of the more interesting parts that are involved...
Rodgers apparently had a front-row seat to Walsh's decision to join the Eagles in 1975. "We were sitting and talking at this party, and he was with his solo band at the time and he told me he was thinking of quitting and just going to the hills," Rodgers recalls. "But he said, 'I've been asked by this band the Eagles to do something wtih them. What do you think?' And I said, 'Why don't you just go have a jam with them and then you can go to the hills and think about it.' He said, 'That's a good idea. I'll try that.' The next thing I hear, he'd joined the band and was off and running with them."
Walsh, meanwhile, says there had also been discussions about him being part of Bad Company during the 70s, though he didn't specify when. "I think I was talking about considering joining them for awhile; It never went anywhere, but we've been friends forever," he says. "I think Simon (Kirke, Bad Company's drummer) and I went hellraising a couple of times, and Paul's great company." He's a great guy to be with. We would pretty much hang out and sing oldies."
Rodgers and Walsh, in fact, began writing material together about eight years ago that they plan to return to in the near future. "A couple really good things came out of that so we're gonna revisit it," Walsh says. "I had some funky licks that had progressed into kind of a song form, and that's what Paul loves. So I dumped those on him and he put words to it and sang it, and of course it's brilliant. It's an approach I never would've come up with. And then he had a couple song ideas, melodies, word groups that he gave to me, and I've been working on those. So we're gonna get back and compare notes."
Rodgers says Bad Company was completely blindsided by Mick Ralphs' decision not to be part of the tour. "We'd announced the tour and Mick looked at it and just sort of went, 'I can't do this,' which wasn't great news at all," Rodgers says. "Can you imagine; Here we are, we make this big announcement, and Mick says he can't do it. I wanted to slightly berate him -- 'What the heck...' but he sounded so said he couldn't, really wasn't up to it. It`s very grinding being on the road. You have to be somewhat in shape for it, and you have to be up for it in many respects. There comes a piont, y'know, health is an issue Sometimes people aren't up to all that."
Walsh says there was some brief discussion about him filling in for Ralphs. " Yeah, we had some dialogue, but we just compared notes, " he explains. "I was booked solid with commitments and stuff and it just wouldn't work."
Rich Robinson -- who met Rodgers during a Jimmy Page tribute last fall at the Experience Music Project in Seattle -- was happy to get the call. "When Mick couldn't do the tour, (Rodgers) just called and said, 'Could you fill in?' 'Yeah, of course.' It was just really simple like that, very cool, very mellow," says Robinson, 47, who's releasing a new solo album, "Flux," during July. "It`s really interesting to come out and see this (music) from this point of view. Growing up, you couldn't avoid it; Their stuff was on the radio 24-7. It's almost like this information that attaches to your DNA as you grow up, so it's really cool to be out here playing it with them."
Prior to the tour Bad Company dug into its vaults for "Bad Company: Live 1977 & 1979," from shows in London, Houston and Washington, D.C. Rodgers was initially hesitant but says that, "I listened to those two tapes the record company were very keen to release. I must admit they've been very good at finding things we've basically forgotten about. I hope people are interested in it. When we listen to it we listen to it from a different perspective; I mean, you go back in time and you go back in time and it's not quite how you remember it, and you're thinking, 'Wow, we sounded like that?' You have a different perspective now, we do, I do have a different perspective when I listen to us live back in the 70s."
Walsh is working on some new music in Nashville with a variety of collaborators. He also has a memoir that he plans to publish in 2017. "That's going to be a really good book," he promises, before joking that, "I thought I could make more money by people paying me NOT to be in my book than I actually could putting the book out, but I decided to go ahead and write it, and I'm really happy now. A lot of people are nervous, but I'm not gonna hurt anybody.
And while he's been playing "Take It To The Limit" every night in Frey's memory, Walsh may have a little extra in mind for the Detroit area stop at the DTE Energy Music Theatre since it's Frey's home town. "I'm thinking about it now, but I'm going to have a part of the set with a little segment for Glenn, and we'll all be sad together," Walsh says. "That's what I have planned."
Bad Company, Joe Walsh and Makana
7 p.m. Wednesday, June 22.
>b?DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township.
Tickets are $20-$99.50 pavilion, $20 lawn.
Call 248-377-0100 or visit palacenet.com.
Note: Rich Robinson, who's filling in with Bad Company this summer, will return to the area for a show with his own band on July 24 at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25. Call 248-544-3030 or visit themagicbag.com.
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