In 1993, Paul Rodgers released two albums that paid tribute to his influences. The first was his Grammy-nominated Muddy Waters Blues: A Tribute to Muddy Waters. The album featured a Who’s Who of guitarists appearing as Rodgers’ guests. Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy, David Gilmour, Brian May, Gary Moore, Brian Setzer, Richie Sambora, Slash, Steve Miller and Trevor Rabin all contributed to the album while Rodgers wrote the title track “Muddy Water Blues.”
Rodgers also recorded a live album titled The Hendrix Set that paid homage to the world’s most innovative guitarist.
“I still put some Hendrix in my solo set,” Rodgers admits. “Hendrix was fantastic. Doing his songs really showed me just how special they were. I can step right into songs like ‘The Wind Cries Mary’ and ‘Little Wing.’ I tag ‘Angel’ onto the end of ‘Little Wing,’ and it is almost like it is supposed to be there.”
Rodgers confesses there is one more artist that he would like to pay homage to.
“One day, I would like to do the same thing for Otis Redding, but I don’t find myself worthy. I hold Otis in such high esteem. He got me through my early teenage years of emotional angst. I believe that I am following in a lot of great people’s footsteps. Otis is number one, but there is also Aretha, Sam Moore, the Four Tops, James Brown, Albert King, BB King, John Lee Hooker and Elmore James. I absorbed what they did when I was young, and now their influences come out in what I do.”
Rodgers actually shared the stage with one of his heroes at the Led Zeppelin reunion show in London. After performing two songs on the main stage, Rodgers played “We Shall Be Free” on a B stage with Sam Moore from Sam & Dave, making Rodgers the only artist to perform twice that historic evening. Rodgers proudly professes, “Sam is a hero of mine, and I’m still learning from him.”
In 2004, Rodgers was invited to close the first Annual U.K. Music Hall of Fame Awards show with “All Right Now.” Having just played the song on “The Strat Pack” DVD, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster, with Brian May, Rodgers called May to see about performing the song again at the awards show.
Rodgers found out that Queen was among the inductees that night, and that if Rodgers would return the favor, then Queen could perform live, too. They performed “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions” and followed with a hair-raising rendition of “All Right Now.” The creative sparks were palpable; the next logical step was to do more.
Queen + Paul Rodgers have, to date, completed two massive tours and released a live CD/DVD, Return of the Champions in 2005 and a studio CD of new songs titled The Cosmos Rocks in 2008.
On working with Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor, Rodgers says, “They are fabulous musicians. That little spark has taken us around the world twice and into doing a brand new album. Doing a new album is something that Queen have not attempted since Freddie [Mercury] passed. I think that, in itself, is a fantastic achievement. I am really proud of what we did together.”
Rodgers and May shared bass duties on the album.
While The Cosmos Rocks has charted across the world, there has been no major push by the record company in America.
“A lot of this business is marketing,” says Rodgers. “There is a lot of fantastic talent out there that some will never know