Backstage Pass: Supertramp's Roger Hodgson

Progressive ambition and Beatlesque pop can make strange bedfellows. Using that formula, however, Supertramp developed into one of biggest-selling acts of the '70s.

Progressive ambition and Beatlesque pop can make strange bedfellows. Using that formula, however, Supertramp developed into one of biggest-selling acts of the '70s.

With his emotional, reflective lyrics, refined pop sensibilities, unique musicianship and grandiose arrangements, Roger Hodgson, a native of Portsmouth, England, was as instrumental in Supertramp’s evolution from a marginally popular prog-rock outfit into international superstars as partner Rick Davies. His distinctive falsetto made hits like “Dreamer,” “Take The Long Way Home” and “It’s Raining Again” soar to heights reserved for birds.

After the huge success of 1979’s Breakfast In America, cracks began to form in the band’s foundation, and after ... Famous Last Words ..., Hodgson left Supertramp for a solo career that resulted in 1984’s In The Eye Of The Storm. An accident that left him with two broken wrists kept him out of music for a stretch but, in 2000, he returned with the triumphant Open The Door.

This fall, Eagle Vision released Hodgson’s Take The Long Way Home DVD, on the heels of Hodgson’s solo performance at the “Concert For Diana,” an event that let everyone know Hodgson is back as a live performer.

Goldmine: With your solo career, do you think you’ve established your own identity apart from Supertramp?

Roger Hodgson: You know, I really feel like this time in my life is a whole different era. Even though I'm singing a lot of my old songs, it's almost like I'm having a whole new relationship with them. I certainly have a whole new appreciation for them. And I think because I'm enjoying singing, and I'm enjoying performing, and enjoying life in general much more, that's helping to make this feel like a whole new beginning.

I don't know. It's so long ago now, and it was a wonderful time in my life, but I'm 57, and it feels like I've gone through several lives this life. Supertramp was one. My family and marriage was another, and now I feel like I'm in another one.

What's different about this one? Was it coming through the accident?

RH: No, well, the accident was part of my journey. You know, I think I'm just older and wiser. I probably have more questions than ever, but I'm content. And I've found some answers that work for me and keep me basically balanced and happy.

I'm doing music because I want to, and I enjoy giving it and offering it to people, but it's not something I have to do anymore. It's not like I'm out to have a huge career anymore. I'm really um ... very simply, it's my way of giving a little bit (laughs.). I think when people ... there's something beyond the music that happens when people come to see my show, and I think every show, but certainly my show, if people really see someone who's really enjoying themselves, and preferably they do, and just loving what they're doing, it helps them to access that place, because in a way as performers we're just mirrors.

That's all we are for an audience, and if you're having a great time and you're feeling a lot of love for what you're doing, and love for the people, which I do — I love people, so I just love being with audiences and having sung with them — it helps the audience to get into that space too, and they go home feeling great beyond the music, and that's why I say, "Give a little bit. To me, give a little bit of my love to you and you give a little bit of your love to me," and that's really what, to me, that's what concerts are all about.