Bad Company are an English blues rock supergroup founded in 1973, consisting of band members from Free (Paul Rodgers, Simon Kirke), Mott the Hoople (Mick Ralphs), and King Crimson (Boz Burrell). Bad Company was managed by Peter Grant, who had also guided Led Zeppelin to massive success. The band enjoyed great success throughout the 1970s.
The 1974 debut album Bad Company was an international hit, with the group considered one of the 1970s' first supergroups. Bad Company consisted of four seasoned musicians: two former members of Free, singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke; former Mott the Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs; and King Crimson bassist Boz Burrell. The group was managed by Peter Grant, who also managed Led Zeppelin at the time and would manage Bad Company until 1982. The album peaked at #1 on Billboard's Pop Albums chart (North America) and included two singles that reached the top 20 charts, "Can't Get Enough" at #5 in 1974 and "Movin' On" at #19 in early 1975. In 1975, Straight Shooter gave the group another #1 on Billboard's Pop Albums chart. The album also spawned two hit singles, "Good Lovin' Gone Bad" at #36 and the slower "Feel Like Makin' Love" at #10.
In late 1975, Paul Kossoff joined Bad Company and his ex-Free colleagues, Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke, on stage for two nights to play Free's hit "All Right Now". Bad Company scheduled a British tour, along with Kossoff's new band, Back Street Crawler, to support Bad Company's 1975 album Run With the Pack as well as a new album by Back Street Crawler. This double headline tour was scheduled to commence on 25 April, 1976, but was halted due to Kossoff's death on 19 March, 1976.
Run With the Pack was Bad Company's first Platinum certified album. The third consecutive million-selling record, reaching #5 on the Billboard chart and featured the hit "Young Blood" that peaked at #20 on the Pop charts.
1977's Burnin' Sky fared the poorest of the first four albums, peaked at a disappointing #15 and was the worst selling Bad Company album to date. The album did have one single that charted: the album's title song, "Burnin' Sky", which reached #78 on the Pop charts. 1979's Desolation Angels fared better than its predecessor and gave the band their first Top 5 Platinum selling album since 1976's album Run With the Pack. Desolation Angels embellished the group's sound with synthesisers and strings. The album reached #3 on the Billboard charts and again had two charting singles: "Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy" at #13 and "Gone Gone Gone" at #56.
A three-year hiatus from the studio ended with the release of Rough Diamonds in 1982. This would be the sixth and final LP in the group's original incarnation until four new songs were recorded in 1998. The album was the worst selling Bad Company album of those that had Paul Rodgers as the front man. The album peaked at #26 and featured "Electricland" (#74), that reached #2 on the newly created Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
By the end of the 1970s, the band grew increasingly disenchanted with playing large stadiums. In addition, Peter Grant lost interest in the group, and in management generally, after Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham died on 25 September , 1980. In the words of Simon Kirke, "Peter was definitely the glue which held us all together and in his absence we came apart". (Reportedly, Paul Rodgers—who has a black belt in martial arts—was involved in a rather one-sided physical altercation with Boz Burrell and Mick Ralphs.) After the release of Rough Diamonds, they disbanded. Mick Ralphs said, "Paul wanted a break and truthfully we all needed to stop. Bad Company had become bigger than us all and to continue would have destroyed someone or something. From a business standpoint, it was the wrong thing to do, but Paul's instinct was absolutely right".
Despite being famous for their live shows packing the largest stadiums for almost a decade, Bad Company did not release an official live album of performances from this time period until the 2006 album Live in Albuquerque 1976. The recordings were made by Mick Ralphs, who regularly taped the group's shows, utilizing them as a tool to finely tune their set and performances. Bootlegs of Bad Company's live performances from this period were also available, including "Boblingen Live" (1974), "Live in Japan" (1975) and "Shooting Star Live at the L.A. Forum" (1975).
Burrell agreed to rejoin the band and was name checked on the Fame and Fortune album, even though he didn't play on it. But just before the supporting tour, he left once again. Price then returned. In 1987, Dechert was dropped from the lineup as the group decided not to play up the keyboards in their sound as much. They toured that year supporting Deep Purple.
For the next Howe-era album, 1988's Dangerous Age, the band replaced Olsen with producer Terry Thomas, who got rid of most of the keyboards and returned the band to a guitar-driven sound. Thomas also added small amounts of keyboards as well as rhythm guitars and backing vocals and wrote most of the songs with the band. Dangerous Age fared better than its predecessor, spawning several MTV videos and the AOR hits "No Smoke Without A Fire" (#4), "One Night" (#9) and "Shake It Up" (#9, also #89 on the Singles charts) . The album went Gold and hit the Top 60. For the Dangerous Age tour, the band were augmented by Larry Oakes (keyboards, guitar), who had also played with Foreigner for a short time. Price and Oakes left at the conclusion of the tour.
After the Dangerous Age tour, during which the band travelled separately from Howe as they could no longer tolerate his behaviour, they set about finding a replacement for him. However, Howe, hoping to launch a solo career, was unable to secure a record deal and eventually the band was forced to allow him back as a result of pressure to produce a new album from outside influences.
The band's next album, 1990's Holy Water, also produced by Thomas, was enormously successful both critically and commercially, attaining Top 40 and Platinum status by selling more than one million copies. "Holy Water" was the band's first album on the Atlantic subsidiary Atco Records. The album spun off the singles: "If You Needed Somebody" (#16), the title track "Holy Water" (#89) and "Walk Through Fire" (#28). "Holy Water" also hit #1 for 2 weeks on the AOR charts with "If You Needed Somebody" reaching #2. The album received significant radio airplay (five songs made the AOR charts in all) and spawned several video hits. Felix Krish played bass on the CD while Paul Cullen was recruited for live shows . Mick Ralphs, who was taking care of personal and family matters, sat out for most of the Holy Water tour, although he did perform on the album. Ralphs was replaced on the road and in the videos by ex-Crawler guitarist Geoffrey Whitehorn. Ralphs returned later on during the tour and Whitehorn joined Procol Harum where he still plays to this day. Also joining at this time was ex-ASAP guitarist Dave "Bucket" Colwell as second guitarist. Many of the dates on the tour were successful and featured Damn Yankees as co-headliners. The tour was one of the most profitable of 1991, a year which saw many other rock acts facing a downturn in concert attendance brought on by rising ticket prices and economic recession.
The final studio album of the Howe era, 1992's Here Comes Trouble featured the Top 40 hit "How About That" (#38) and "This Could Be The One" (#87). The album went Gold, but the formula was growing stale. Before touring in support of Here Comes Trouble, the band added ex-Foreigner, Roxy Music and Small Faces bassist Rick Wills and Colwell, a protégé of Ralphs, was now a full-time member. The band recorded a live album, What You Hear Is What You Get: The Best of Bad Company on the Here Comes Trouble tour. The album, released in 1993, featured live versions of hits from both the Rodgers and Howe eras of the band, but sold poorly.
Howe left the band in 1994. Regarding his departure from the band, Howe stated: "Leaving Bad Company was not a difficult decision. It had got to the point where nobody was contributing anything to songwriting and quite frankly, the band was getting very very sloppy live. I quite simply, along with Terry Thomas, got tired of doing all the work and then getting nothing but resentment for it from Mick and Simon.
In 1998, Rodgers and Kirke were discussing release of an extensive compilation album with a biography and pictures for the fans. Rodgers decided the album should include four new songs. He finally reunited with the other three original members in the studio to record these four new tracks. The reunion was short, but it produced a Top 20 AOR hit with "Hey Hey" (#15). The second new song "Hammer of Love" peaked at #23. The new tracks appeared on the 1999 compilation album called The Original Bad Company Anthology which crawled to #189. Many fans were displeased with the track listing which left off many hits, although a number of rare tracks did appear. The reunited original foursome toured in the summer of '99 for only 30 dates in the U.S. The shows drew well. The following year, Ralphs announced he was retiring from live performing and Burrell left again as well, bringing the reunion to an end.
Paul Rodgers again rejoined Kirke in 2001 for a tour that kicked off in the U.S. and included co-headlining dates with Styx. Wills and Colwell took over for the departed Ralphs and Burrell. The tour did decent business then moved to the U.K. The band secured some dates on the West Coast of the US to record a new live album and DVD Merchants of Cool, which featured the song "Joe Fabulous," which hit #1 on radio and the top 20 on Mainstream Rock Radio in the U.S. in its debut week. The Merchants of Cool promotional tour in 2002 once again featured Kirke and Rodgers as the only original members left. Colwell again took lead guitar and Jaz Lochrie was on bass. Guest performers at the shows included former Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash and Neal Schon of Journey fame. After the 2002 tour, Bad Company went inactive once again as Rodgers returned to his solo career.
In 2005 Paul Rodgers began touring and playing Bad Company songs with Queen. It was stated, including on Brian May's own website, "that Rodgers would be featured with Queen as: Queen + Paul Rodgers, not replacing the late Freddie Mercury". The CD and DVD of their collaboration was released in 2005 called Return of the Champions with songs by Queen, Bad Company and Free. On 28 April, 2006, they released a live DVD from their show in Tokyo called Super Live in Japan. There are many bootlegs from nearly every show of the 2005 and 2006 tours in audio, as well as a few in video form.
In 2006, a limited edition CD of 24 carat gold was released of the first Bad Company album (Bad Company). After taking over a year to find the original master tapes, the analog masters were put through a proprietary analog-to-digital converter that remastered the songs for the best possible sound.
On 6 May 2007 Robert Hart, Dave "Bucket" Colwell and Jaz Lochrie performed a small pub show for charity. Performing as Rock and Roll Fantasy, they offered a show of Bad Company songs for an audience of just a few hundred. Harry James of Thunder was the drummer.
In 2008, Bad Company are touring in the following formation: Robert Hart, Mick Ralphs, Dave Bucket Colwell, Jaz Lochrie, Harry James.
On 2nd of July 2008, it was announced that the original line-up of Bad Company (minus Boz Burrell who passed away in September 2006) would do a one-off gig at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida on 8th August 2008. According to Paul Rodgers, they do this gig in order to "protect the legacy they have built and cement the rights to the trademark Bad Company for touring.