By the end of 1970, British blues-rock band Savoy Brown established themselves as a steady presence with US audiences. Though their album sales never reached the levels their founder, guitarist Kim Simmonds, strived for, their hard-working performance and driving blues music strongly connected with audiences. Throughout their existence, Simmonds has worked to keep the music fresh by constantly changing the band's line-up. Following the 1970 tour supporting the album, Looking In, three members of the four-piece band split off. Simmonds found fresh sidemen, and continued on, and a new band was established by singer/guitarist Lonesome Dave Peverett, bassist Tony Stevens, and drummer Roger Earl. The trio were joined by slide guitarist Rod Price from the band Black Cat Bones to form what was to become the powerhouse blues & boogie rockers Foghat.
Because the split was somewhat other than amicable, Harry Simmonds (Kim’s brother and Savoy Brown manager) threatened the trio. Roger Earl says, “Harry said if we left the band we’d never work in England again.” He made good on the threat for a while, Earl with a laugh continued, “We made a pretty good demo, six or seven songs and our manager, Tony Outeda, took the demos to all the major record labels and everyone said no.” Undeterred, Outeda introduced the band to Albert Grossman, who was just forming a new record label called Bearsville Records. Earl continues, “He had a deep voice, and this silver hair, and a ponytail. We played our demos for him at this little club in London.” Imitating Grossman’s deep voice, Earl says, "Afterwards, he says to us, is there anywhere we can get some tea and biscuits?
So we went across the road to a hotel, and Albert ordered tea and biscuits for us and said " (in his Albert voice),Hey, let’s do this.” They signed with Grossman’s label and soon released their self-titled debut album Foghat. The very lead song on the record was a cover of the Willie Dixon blues standard I Just Want to Make Love To You. Beefed up by Foghat’s signature double guitar attack led by Rod Price’s stellar slide work, the song went on to be their first hit. It broke into the hot 100 on the charts and has been a staple of their live set ever since.
By 1975, their shows were becoming must see events for high school and college kids all across the United States. In September of that year, they released the album Fool for the City, which would eventually go double platinum. The song Slow Ride climbed the charts into the top 20 due, in part, to Lonesome Dave’s sexy “slow down, go down, you know the rhythm is right” lyric. This was followed up with the song Fool for the City and their catapult ride from club and theater staples to stadium rockers was complete. They rode the wave of success into the 80’s but dwindling record sales and changing lineups eventually led to their disbanding in 1984.
Reforming in 1994, their music has been a staple on classic-rock radio since the 1980’s. Sadly, Lonesome Dave Peverett passed away in 2000. Earl said, “On stage, he was a great performer, energetic, but off stage, he was quiet. He was a real sweet guy.” The two had played together on and off for over 30 years and while they may not have been besty’s, the respect Earl felt for his band mates' talent was obvious.
For the last few years, when he’s not recording and touring, Roger Earl, and his family, have become involved in wine making. Roger says, “I’ve always liked wine. “ With a laugh he adds, “It’s my beverage of choice.”
He continues, “So a few years ago we played the California Mid-State Fair. After the show this guy, Steve Rasmussen, comes up to me and asks if we might be interested in making wine? So I said Yeah, I’d love to make some wine.” It didn’t take long to realize Foghat was a great name for the California based winery. Earl says, “You know, the fog coming in from the coast makes the area perfect for growing the grapes.” Interestingly this isn’t a product that just bears the name of the band, Earl explains, “It's really great fun. We go out there and we pick the grapes, and we crush the grapes. We punch it down. We put it into the tanks. We do everything. We’re involved in every part of the process.” However, it’s not just the wine making Roger finds appealing, “Another thing I love about it is it’s a great community. The growers, the farmers, everyone, the winemakers, they all help one another. They're all in competition, but they all enjoy helping each other. It’s remarkable”
At 75 years of age, Roger Earl is showing no signs of slowing down. His band, now comprised guitar player Brian Bassett, bassist Rodney O’Quinn, Charlie Huhn on guitar, and vocals, and himself on drums, averages around 75 shows yearly, and is still making albums on a semi-regular schedule with a new offering every two or three years. When asked if he has any plans to retire any time soon Earl jokes, “ Like the late great Lonesome Dave said, “We’re gonna roll ‘til we’re old, and rock ‘til we drop!”