In the 1970s Foghat's love of the blues led them to simplify rock at a time when many of their peers were adding synthesizers and complex arrangements. While critics complained that bands like Foghat and Grand Funk Railroad had dumbed down rock, fans raided record bins and flocked to concerts. "By the end of the decade," noted Richard Skelly in Goldmine, "the rock world had caught up to Foghat, and the group was clearing space on the wall for gold and platinum albums with increasing regularity." The group's success continued to build until 1978 when disco and punk pulled the plug on arena rock, leaving Foghat to limp into the early 1980s before calling it quits.
In 1971, singer Dave Peverett, bassist Tony Stevens, and drummer Roger Earl decided to break away from British blues-rock band Savoy Brown. "When we first left Savoy we were looking to rock out a bit more," Peverett told Skelly. They recruited lead guitarist Rod Price, and began to practice at the Country Club in England. The unnamed band generated a great deal of interest, leading Albert Grossman, Bob Dylan's legendary manager, to attend a practice session. He liked what he heard and signed the new band to his label, Bearsville Records. After recording the band's first album in Rockford, Wales, the members still hadn't decided what to call themselves. They had considered Brandywine Track or Hootch, but rejected both in favor of the nonsensical name Foghat, which Peverett and his brother had dreamed up during a game of Scrabble.
Their self-titled LP rose to 127 on the American albums chart, and was bolstered when "I Just Want to Make Love to You" received airplay. It was only with their second release the following year that the band seemed to find its musical niche. The album, also called Foghat but referred to as Rock and Roll (thanks to clever cover art featuring a rock and a dinner roll), sported boogie-friendly cuts like "Ride, Ride, Ride" and "Road Fever." "Foghat's second album finds the group working its way towards the fusion of blues and hard rock that would make them an arena rock favorite," noted Donald A. Guarisco in All Music Guide.
Foghat's American success led them to concentrate their energies there. "British audiences had lost interest in the blues revival and the quartet wisely decided to try their luck in America," noted Pierre Perrone in the London Independent. The band honed its chops by nonstop touring, opening for acts like Jethro Tull, Edgar Winter, and the J. Geils Band.
Foghat recorded two albums in 1974, Energized and Rock and Roll Outlaws, but a lack of steady commercial success had left the band stranded on the second tier. This changed abruptly in 1975 with the recording of Fool for the City, which was produced by the band's new bass player, Nick Jameson. "Slow Ride" became Foghat's first top 40 hit, and suddenly the band was headlining its own tours.
Guarisco called Fool for the City "the best album in the group's catalog because it matched their road-tested abilities as hard rockers to a consistent set of tunes that were both well-crafted and ambitious." The band, tired of traveling back and forth between Britain and the United States, moved to Long Island, New York, in 1975 in the wake of their new success. "We were the ultimate 'cult' band," Roger Earl told Helena Finnegan in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. "We were selling out arenas all over the place, without anybody in New York or L.A. even realizing it."
Foghat seemed unstoppable for the next three years. "Foghat remained one of the hardest-working bands of the 1970s," noted Perrone. "With Peverett at the helm, Foghat wrote songs about life on the road, boogied, partied, … and even aped the gonzo-rock of Kiss on 'Fool for the City.'" They continued to record, releasing Night Shift in 1976, their biggest seller, Foghat Live, in 1977, and Stone Blue in 1978.
In 1977 the group was invited to be part of a benefit performance at the Palladium for the New York Public Library's blues collection, along with performers like Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, and others. "It was one of those nights when I think everybody was good," Peverett recalled to Skelly, "and everybody just peaked that night. It was a highlight of my career." Foghat Live sold over two million copies by 1984, and appeared on many top-ten lists during the 1970s.
As the 1970s spilled into the 1980s, a number of external and internal problems threatened Foghat's supremacy. Disco was popular, and punk rock had captured the youth market in both England and the United States. With the changing musical scene, dissension within the group, and a new media upstart called MTV, Foghat reached a crossroads in the early 1980s. In 1983 they stopped touring, and the following year, after 16 albums and five hits, decided to call it quits. "We just felt like it was the right time to take a rest," Peverett told Bill Locey in the Los Angeles Times. "MTV, punk and new wave were happening and we had been on the road for 16 years."
For the Record . . .
Members include Roger Earl (born on May 16, 1946, in London, England), drums; Dave Peverett (born on April 16, 1943, in London, England; died on February 7, 2000, in Orlando, FL), guitar, vocals; Rod Price (born on November 22, 1947, in London, England), guitar; Tony Stevens (born on September 12, 1949, in Willisden, England), bass.
Group formed in England and signed with Bearsville Records, 1971; released Foghat, 1972; released Foghat (Rock and Roll), 1973; released Energized and Rock and Roll Outlaws, 1974; released Fool for the City, 1975; Night Shift, 1977; and Foghat Live, 1977; stopped touring, 1983; disbanded, 1984; reformed, 1980s and 1990s.
Addresses: Record company— Rhino Entertainment, P.O. Box 30620, Tampa, FL 33630-0620, website: http://www.rhino.com. Website— Foghat Official Web-site: http://www.foghat.com.
Even after the band dissolved, Foghat records continued to sell thanks to the popularity of songs like "Fool for the City" and "Stone Blue" on classic rock radio. The band returned to the stage in the 1990s, performing old favorites for fans—and their children. Speaking of one tour, Peverett told Frank Roberts in the Virginian Pilot-Ledger Star, "You'll see typical Foghat: high energy, loud and sweaty." When Peverett was asked in 1996 if Foghat ever grew tired of playing the band's most popular song, he replied: "Oh, no," he told Locey, "we're not tired of playing 'Slow Ride.' That's the one that gets the crowd worked up, and from a live point of view, that's the one that gets them up to party." Peverett died of cancer on February 7, 2000.
Foghat, Bearsville, 1972; reissued, Rhino, 1990.
Foghat (Rock and Roll), Bearsville, 1973; reissued, Rhino, 1990.
Rock and Roll Outlaws, Bearsville, 1974; reissued, Rhino, 1990.
Energized, Bearsville, 1974; reissued, Rhino, 1990.
Fool for the City, Bearsville, 1975; reissued, Rhino, 1990.
Night Shift, Bearsville, 1976; reissued, Rhino, 1990.
Foghat Live, Bearsville, 1977; reissued, Rhino, 1990.
Stone Blue, Bearsville, 1978; reissued, Rhino, 1990.
Boogie Motel, Bearsville, 1979.
Tight Shoes, Bearsville, 1980.
Girls to Chat & Boys to Bounce, Bearsville, 1981.
In the Mood for Something Rude, Bearsville, 1982.
Zig-Zag Walk, Bearsville, 1983.
The Return of the Boogie Men, Atlantic, 1994.
Decades Live, Sanctuary, 2003.
Marsh, Dave, and John Swenson, editors, Rolling Stone Record Guide, Random House, 1979.
Goldmine, August 4, 1995.
Independent (London, England), February 16, 2000, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times, August 29, 1996, p. B6.
Sarasota Herald Tribune (Florida), December 1, 2000, p.4.
Virginian Pilot-Ledger Star (Hampton Roads, VA), April 16, 1998, p. 7.
"Foghat," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (September 15, 2003).
Foghat Official Website, http://www.foghat.com (November 25, 2003).
—Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
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