More than 45 years after Foghat began its journey, the boogie-rock icons continue their legendary slow ride. The band originally came together in England in 1971 when drummer Roger Earl, vocalist/guitarist Lonesome Dave Peverett and bassist Tony Stevens departed Savoy Brown. Lead guitarist Rod Price was soon added to the mix, and Foghat took root. The group’s self-titled debut featured a stunning cover of Willie Dixon’s “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” which remains a concert staple for Foghat to this day. Across the decades, Foghat has released numerous gold and platinum albums and launched classic radio staples like “Fool for the City,” “Slow Ride,” “Drivin’ Wheel” and “Stone Blue.”
During their storied journey, the band has lost Price and Peverett; the former to a heart attack in 2005 and the latter to cancer in 2000. Longtime bassist Craig MacGregor is currently fighting his own battle with cancer. Despite this, Earl has never stopped the train from rolling along. Former Wild Cherry and Molly Hatchett guitarist Bryan Bassett took the slide guitar reins from Price in ’99. With Peverett’s approval prior to his death, he encouraged the band to add Charlie Huhn (Ted Nugent, Humble Pie, Victory) to front the band in his absence. Huhn, who has now been with Foghat for 18 years, still often talks about the band from an outsider's perspective, perhaps paying respect and remembrance to the massive shoes Foghat asked him to fill long ago.
This month, Foghat releases Live at the Belly Up, an album that celebrates the band’s touring legacy with a nod to the group’s multi-platinum 1977 classic Foghat Live. The band’s first concert recording is one of the most critically acclaimed live records of all time. Forty years after its release, every song on Foghat Live still stands the test of time:
“We’re performing the whole album, front to back, in our set now too,” Huhn shares with AXS. “That live set rocks with the whole Foghat Live album like that, and we also do a medley of five other songs. We’ve never done a medley before and it’s just 10 minutes of driving music. Then we have a couple of other songs we throw in there; 'Under the Influence,' from the latest studio release, and 'Drivin’ Wheel' and 'Stone Blue' because they came out after Foghat Live.”
The decision to record and release Live at the Belly Up turned out to be somewhat accidental. “At the turn of the year we got this gig at The Belly Up,” Huhn offers, “and we thought, we’re following in the footsteps of some legendary rock bands like the Stones that have played at The Belly Up, so we figured, let’s release it. It’s a great set and we had a great show that night.”
Huhn is one of rock and roll’s most humble performers and he talks with reverence about the band’s music and legacy. “It’s really strong. It’s fresh every time you hear it. They have a lot of magic in those songs. Well written, well played. Whenever Rod Price went into a solo he was full of fire, and that energy and drive. The rhythm section is like a locomotive; the bass and drums just so solid. The songwriting and Lonesome Dave’s singing and lyric writing — it was just a great combination. I knew it from that first Foghat album in ’71, and I’d already been watching those guys when they were in Savoy Brown. It was really exciting to see them get that notoriety on their first release. They just never let up after that.”
Last year, Foghat released its seventeenth studio album, Under the Influence, which featured seven new tracks as well as a 40th-anniversary remake of the band’s seminal classic “Slow Ride.” Also included on the new record were a couple of Savoy Brown covers from Roger Earls days with his former band. “We’ve been dabbling with Savoy Brown songs since day one because I’ve always been a big fan and those songs were awesome too; the boogies and the blues.”
Despite Foghat’s catalog of classic hits, the band still feels the creative energy to create new music. “That’s something that’s always fun,” Huhn says of writing songs. “That’s the whole mentality; to be original and keep writing. Most of those new songs started as jams at sound check. Roger will start playing a beat and then a riff will just fall out of my sleeve and we’ll just start playing — you know, your eyebrows go up and the hair on your arms goes up, and it’s just like, ‘Wow, here’s a new song.’ It’s fantastic. It’s just so much fun.”
Forever road warriors, Foghat will be on the road for the better part of 2017 and 2018 performing a tribute set to Foghat Live. Catch them on tour, pick up their new albums, revisit the classics and catch AXS' previous Foghat interview with Roger Earl below.