Foghat drummer Roger Earl shares the 10 albums that changed his life

By Mike Greenblatt

Drummer Roger Earl co-founded Foghat with guitarist “Lonesome” Dave Peverett [1943-2000] and bassist Tony Stevens when all three left Savoy Brown in 1970.

Foghat drummer Roger Earl photo by Kenny Janosik

Today, Earl stands as the only original member of the still-touring Foghat, whose most recent studio effort is “Last Train Home.”

Earl took issue with our list limit. “Only 10? What about Howling Wolf and Little Richard? Ben E. King? Can’t you at least mention Freddie King and Jimi Hendrix?” Earl asked.  When informed he must only share 10, he sighed and gave us the following.

Jerry Lee Lewis eponymous debut albumJerry Lee Lewis, Jerry Lee Lewis
His very first one in 1958. Absolutely incredible. My father brought it home. We had already bought the single “Great Balls Of Fire” which came out in 1957. But the album, oh man. It had “Jambalaya” by Hank Williams, “When The Saints Go Marching In,” “Ubangi Stomp,” “Matchbox.” It was magic.

Elvis Presley debut albumElvis Presley, Elvis Presley
Again, his very first, in 1956 on the Sun Records label. Wow. The band was just great: Scotty Moore, Bill Black and DJ Fontana. Elvis certainly was great but it was the music that got me…the way the band played. Nobody had ever done anything like that.

Johnny Cash Hot and Blue GuitarJohnny Cash, With His Hot and Blue Guitar
This was also his first album. Again, Sun Records. 1957. My brother, four years older than me, turned me on to Johnny Cash and made me probably the only kid in my junior high class in England who even knew who he was. Even though he didn’t have a drummer, man, I loved that stuff.

Muddy Waters at Newport 1960Muddy Waters, At Newport 1960
With James Cotton on harmonica and Otis Spann on piano. I couldn’t drum like Francis Clay, but I sure tried.

Otis Spann is the BluesOtis Spann, Otis Spann Is The Blues
He came out of Muddy’s band, and this was his first solo album. 1960. Most blues albums weren’t recorded that well, but this one was the first I ever heard in what they used to call “high fidelity.” He played a Steinway Grand, and it was the most incredible-sounding record. And the band! Muddy played some guitar, and Otis had such a great voice! He’s probably my favorite all-time piano player, except for maybe Meade Lux Lewis. I always wanted to play piano. I can play it in C only.

Johnny Burnette Rock 'n' Roll TrioJohnny Burnette, Rock ’n’ Roll Trio
1956. With his brother, Dorsey, and Paul Burlison. I owned it twice — the second time was on tour with Foghat in the early days. Dave and I would scour the record stores, and we found it. I had the original release at one time, but I think one of my ex-wives still has it. Anybody who ever loved or wanted to play real rockabilly has to listen to this.

John Fogerty Blue Moon SwampJohn Fogerty, Blue Moon Swamp
I’ve always thought he was the quintessential American songwriter, guitarist and singer. I romanced one of my wives with it when it came out in 1997. And I picked one of its songs, “Joy Of My Life,” to dance to with my daughter at her wedding. Every song he does is an instant classic in my book. Had I not been in Foghat, I would have wanted to be the drummer for Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Chuck Berry Johnny B. Goode albumChuck Berry, Johnny B. Goode
If it weren’t for Chuck, the Rolling Stones would be out of work. We’d all be out of work.

Buddy Rich Jazz At the PhilharmonicBuddy Rich, Jazz At The Philharmonic
I played it over and over again and become totally fascinated with the drum solos. I would bash on all the furniture with spoons and forks and drive my mother crazy. I wore that record out.

Little Feat Waiting for ColumbusLittle Feat, Waiting For Columbus
It was their live album in 1978. Every song. The way they played, the way they sang. Maybe my favorite band of all time. GM

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