Never Say Die: Foghat Rocks On

It must have been hard for them to start over. At one time, they were known had been the kings of blues-rock, playing hits like “Slow Ride,” and “I Just Want To Make Love To You” to sold-out arenas. Their constant touring had earned them the nickname “The Hardest Working-Band In Show Business,” and eventually, the endless tours took their toll on the group. In the early 1980’s, the group known to the world as Foghat, decided to split as amicably as possible.

Foghat's glory days.

Foghat’s glory days.

In retrospect, the causes for the group’s break-up must seem painfully obvious. When they first met in 1967, vocalist “Lonesome” Dave Peverett, bassist Tony Stevens, and drummer Roger Earl were all part of the British rock group Savoy Brown. Something must have clicked with the trio, because by 1971 they decided to strike out on their own, and with the addition of guitarist Rod Price, Foghat was born.

For the next decade, the band toured relentlessly. By 1977, all their long hours on the road and in the studio had paid off. That was the year that their album Foghat Live went double-platinum. But all that time together, by that point nearly ten years, was starting to wear on the band. Stevens had left the group in 1975, and just three years after the success of Foghat Live, Price left the group as well. Line-up changes became frequent, and with Peverett and Earl the only constant members, tensions built.

Due to sagging album sales, the band was compelled to alter their sound to a more commercial style. It didn’t help. By the early 1980s, after a string of albums that had received only tepid sales, Foghat called it quits. Some fans pointed to internal problems with the band, but whatever the reason, Foghat was no more.

For more than ten years, the four founding members had little or nothing to do with each other. At one point, there was even a bitter legal dispute between Peverett and Earl over the ownership of the very band name they once all shared. The only thing they still shared was a love for the blues. Ultimately, that same passion began to mend fences.

In the early 1990’s, after burying the past and agreeing to give it one last shot, the founding members of Foghat began to play again. The four hadn’t played together in fifteen years, and it took time for them to find their sound again. But they did.

It started with small shows at tiny clubs. Small shows became packed shows, and the tiny clubs became huge music halls. The music halls eventually became arenas, and eventually the arenas became mammoth public events. And at the heart of it all was the music that had brought them together in the first place; the blues.

Slowly, the group began to rediscover the magic that had made them so successful in their heyday. Then, by sheer good-fortune, their music was re-discovered by a whole new generation of listeners thanks to the 70’s-retro film “Dazed & Confused.” They even recorded an album, Return Of The Boogie Men, which brought them full-circle, and back to the blues.

And then, on Monday, September 7, 2000, and just as things were going so well, vocalist “Lonesome” Dave Peverett died from pneumonia. He had long been fighting cancer, and in fact had already lost a kidney to the disease, but no one in the group had expected him to die. Just a month previously, he and the band had been touring to support yet another new album, Road Cases. It seemed to be a horribly tragic and final cadence to Foghat’s story.

But it wasn’t. Foghat kept playing.

Once can only imagine what it was like for them to start over for a third time, but they did. Eventually, vocalist Charlie Huhn was brought in as a replacement for Peverett, and guitarist Bryan Bassett took over for an absent Price. They’ve tried to keep their music fresh, adding the occasional acoustic arrangement of one of their hits into their set. Although they may never again capture the energy and power they once had in the mid-1970s, they can still keep a crowd happy playing the rock and roll blues. At this point, more than thirty years after forming Foghat, that seems to be exactly what they want to do.

This story was originally published in the 2002 Bele Chere Guide published by Mountain Xpress.

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