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Why Roger Hodgson left Supertramp and they never reunited


Why Roger Hodgson left Supertramp and they never reunited

Supertramp was formed in 1970 by the singers, songwriters and multi-intrumentalists Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson, releasing their self-titled debut album in the same year. That record was followed by “Indelibly Stamped” (1971),”Crime of The Century” (1974), “Crisis? What Crisis?” (1975) and Even in the Quietest Moments… (1977). All of those albums had important songs and hits like “School”, “Dreamer, “Give a Little Bit” and “Bloody Well Right”.


But they really went to another level with the release of “Breakfast in America” (1979), which still is their best-selling record. Packed with hits, that album peaked at number one on the charts of several countries, including the United States Billboard 200. It also represented a a change in the band’s songwriting. It was a more commercial sound, not being much focused on concept albums or long Progressive Rock songs.

Three years later, in 1982, the follow-up “…Famous Last Words…” was released, with a title that reflected the band’s future. Roger Hodgson decided to leave the group and it was their final album with him. But why left the band and they never reunited?

Why Roger Hodgson left Supertramp and they never reunited

Roger Hogdson and Rick Davies were the songwriters of the band and worked successfully together for 14 years. But it was after “Breakfast In America” that things started to change. With the success of the album, Hodgson believed they should try to write more music that could be more commercial and less complicated like it was before. However, Rick Davies wanted to return to the idea of concept albums and long songs. So it was the start of the disagreements between the two songwriters of the group.

“…Famous Last Words…” was a really difficult album for the band to make since there was no unity anymore. Many good songs that ended up on Roger’s first solo album and on Supertramp’s next album were not used on that record. Hodgson particularly didn’t like the result of that final album he did with the band. He said that the best songs weren’t used because there was really no unity in the band anymore. According to him, that was crucial to make it sound good.

The lack of unity within the band allied with the fact that Roger became a father and had two young babies at home made him decide to leave the band. He wanted to spent more time with his family and learn how to be a good father, so he left the group after their 1983 tour, released his solo album “In the Eye of the Storm” in 1984, the follow up “Hai Hai” In 1987 and really left the music industry for more than a decade.

Being with his family was also one of the reasons why Roger Hodgson left Supertramp

He talked about leaving the band  in an interview with Wabana Media in 2023 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), When asked what family meant to him, he explained that it was one of the reasons why he decided to leave Supertramp too.

“In 1983, when I left Supertramp, it was definitely a time where I was following my heart. I was suddenly looking at two very small babies and thinking: ‘Wow, I’ve got to stop and learn to how to be a parent and a father’. I didn’t really have a clue, if I had continued touring and making albums with Supertramp it’s not gonna work. I’ve got the message loud and clear that I had to stop and really almost leave the music industry.”

“Which I did, I left Los Angeles and went up into Northern California where I built a home for my kids and family. I really didn’t tour for about 16, 17, 18 years but looking back now I’m very, very glad I did, because I don’t have any regrets. My family stayed together, my kids are in good shape, I don’t have any regrets myself that I wasn’t there (for them),” Roger Hodgson said.

There was an agreement between Roger and Rick that wasn’t honored

“…Famous Last Words…” was a really difficult album to make and the band knew it was going to be the final one with Hogdson. As he told Rock Antenne in 2015, he and Rick agreed with the name of the album and that they would no longer continue writing together. Roger also said that giving the name of the band to Rick was one of the foolish things he ever did.

He felt that his songs stood the test of time better than Rick’s. So it was much more difficult for him later to let people know that it was actually him who wrote most of their big hits. The verbal agreement they had at the time was that Rick could continue with the name of the band if they didn’t perform the tracks written by Hodgson. By doing that Hodgson would keep the rights to his songs. That deal was honored for a few years until Rick started to use Hodgson’s songs again during their live concerts. As Hodgson told Daily Mail in 2010, it was the need to sell tickets that made Supertramp start using his songs again.

“That is the truth of it. Rick wanted to put bums on seats. My songs have turned out to be timeless. Songs like ‘Dreamer’ come from a pure place – especially when life for so many people is very difficult right now. Supertramp is a brand name and a trademark owned by Rick. But fans want to hear the songs sung by the man who wrote them,” Roger Hodgson said.

The Supertramp reunions without Roger Hodgson

Since then there were many attempts to bring the classic line-up together but all of them failed. The reason mainly because of the fights they had over the years and their managements. Without Rogers they released the albums “Brother Where You Bound” (1985), “Free as a Bird” (1987). They entered a hiatus from 1988 to 1996 and released “Some Things Never Change” (1997) and “Slow Motion” (2002).

In 2002 the group went into another hiatus and in 2005, Dougie Thomson (Bass – member from 1972 to 1988), Bob Siebenberg (Drums) and John Helliwell (Saxophones and more) sued Rick Davies to demand him to share the control over the rights to the band’s catalog from 1974 to 1983. They won the court case and in 2010 they reunited with Davies again to perform as Supertramp, in a reunion (Without Roger) that lasted until 2012.

During that last reunion of the band, Roger Hodgson criticized them. Because the band was using his songs on radio and TV ads to promote the shows. As he told Daily Mail in 2010, he felt like the fans were being cheated.

‘There is a big difference between imitating someone and being the authentic artist who wrote the song. They’re singing my songs and using radio ads with my voice to sell the tickets. I have had so many fans writing to me regarding this,” Roger Hodgson said.

According to Roger, it’s Rick who was making the reunion difficult to happen

As Roger told Wabana Media in 2023 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), it was his former bandmate Rick Davies that was making the possibility of a reunion to be difficult. He noted that he would be the first one to accept the deal for a reunion.

“I don’t know, unfortunately Ricky Boy is making it very difficult (a reunion). I mean, I would love, I would be the first, I’m a huge fan of Rick’s songs obviously. He was my partner for 14 years and forgiveness… I don’t hang on to grudges or anything, I’m not like that. But I do believe that to even a man of peace, which I am, when you see (something wrong) you need to speak up.”

“What I’m really speaking up is the fans who are maybe misinformed. (Because they might go to) a Supertramp show expecting to see me. That’s how the show was advertised, with my voice on the radio. So I don’t like that. I don’t like seeing the fans disappointed. Because really we all lived a very blessed life because of the fans support and love,” Roger Hodgson said.

In 2015 he even told ABC Valencia, that he made an offer to Rick when Supertramp announced their reunion five years before. “In 2010, because I knew how much fans wanted it, I made an offer to Rick Davies and his agent. (The offer was) to bring the band to some special reunion concerts for the 40th anniversary tour. But Rick declined.”

“So I think that the time for a reunion has passed. And for me it is not important; Supertramp was a great band and an adventure that ended 32 years ago. Now it’s just a brand owned by Rick Davies,” Roger Hodgson said.

Still is difficult to let people know that he was the one who wrote most of Supertramp’s hits

The musician started touring again in 1995 and his third and most recent solo album “Open The Door” was released in 2000. Since then the musician has been touring the world, usually advertising his concerts as “the voice of Supertramp”. In the interview with Wabana Media in 2023 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), he recalled how difficult it has been to let fans know that he was the one who wrote and sang most of the band’s hits.

“The challenges I’ve had actually was letting people know that the songs and the voice that they’ve been listening for 30, 40 years now is my voice. Because these songs are so established with the name Supertramp that many people don’t know who Roger Hodgson is. As I go over the world, so many people come in the shows and go ‘Oh my God, that’s the voice! Those are the songs that I’ve been listening to.”

He continued:

“It’s a lesson to me (since) I gave away the name Supertramp. I’ve put 14 years of my life into then I stopped touring for 17 years. So it’s really miraculous that I could comeback.”

During the same conversation he lamented that he gave the name of the band to Rick. “I know who I was in Supertramp. I was not just the singer-songwriter, I was the passionate, producer, the arranger. (So) I did a lot within Supertramp but I never wanted the credit for it. It was all about Supertramp. So it was very difficult leaving Supertramp and giving the Supertramp name to Rick. Probably one of the most foolish things I ever done,” Roger Hodgson said.

Supertramp has been inactive since 2012. They would tour again in 2015 but the shows were canceled after Davies was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. The group has sold an estimated amount of more than 60 million records worldwide.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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