Roger Hodgson seems like a nice enough fellow. Obviously, without knowing the man personally, that’s speculation based on what I have read about him. Even guys as nice and easy going as Hodgson seems to be can be pushed too far, and he may quickly be reaching that point.
If recent news regarding plans by Supertramp co-founder Rick Davies is accurate, he’s planning to hit the road for the “40th Anniversary Tour” and bring Hodgson’s songs along for the ride – without as much as an invitation for Hodgson to join the group for even a few shows. That sounds like the kind of thing that could get under the skin of just about anyone, despite how easy going they may be.
Hodgson extended an olive branch to Davies and offered to perform with his former band mates as his schedule would permit. An offer that was rather harshly rebuffed by Davies & Co.
Even so, Hodgson says the idea of Davies touring as Supertramp and performing his own material would make him “incredibly happy.” What does not make him happy is the idea of Davies using material he wrote. It’s been widely reported that Hodgson and Davies both bought into a gentleman’s agreement when the went their separate ways in 1983, with Hodgson agreeing to allow Davies to continue using the name Supertramp, but Davies would not continue to perform songs that were written by Hodgson. There may, in fact, be more to it than that, and it appears that Davies came away from the breakup with the legal rights to the Supertramp name, indicating that he took the necessary legal steps to ensure his future use of the group’s name.
Hodgson, on the other hand, appears to have fallen victim to his own willingness to trust someone he considered a friend. By his own admission, he admits that he did not have a good attorney, and the agreement which forbade Davies from performing his music was not in writing.
“It was a handshake where we looked each other in the eye. I had been with Rick for 14 years. I thought that I could trust him. The first tour he did, the ‘Brother Where You Bound’ tour, he didn’t play my songs. He honoured the agreement. Then 5 or 7 years later that is when he started to, for whatever reason, play my songs. I felt very betrayed. That is part of the reason Dougie Thompson left the band. He felt it was really wrong,” Hodgson said.
It’s not clear whether Hodgson could or would take legal action to stop Davies from using his material. In California, where Hodgson now lives, the law states that a verbal agreement is equal to a written one. Even so, Hodgson seems reluctant to take the matter to the courts, but says he will no longer remain silent on the issue.
Hodgson’s material does make up a very sizable share of Supertramp’s greatest hits. Classics such as “Take The Long Way Home,” “Give A Little Bit,” “Breakfast In America” and “Dreamer” were all penned by Hodgson, and apparently are too popular for Davies to leave by the wayside.
What makes no sense to Roger Hodgson is the fact that Davies is a fine songwriter in his own right, and could take to the road with his own material and probably make a success of it. Davies wrote classics such as “Goodbye Stranger”, “From Now On”, “Bloody Well Right” and “Ain’t Nobody But Me.”
Bringing these facts to light has prompted me to reconsider something I said a few years ago. Like most fans, I don’t think the full glory of Supertramp can ever be realized without the inclusion of Roger Hodgson. At the same time, I’m in agreement with Hodgson regarding the songwriting ability of Rick Davies. I have all of the post-Hodgson studio albums, and I enjoy them a great deal.
That only makes Hodgson’s point seem more sensible. There are at least four albums Davies could draw from to compile a good set list for the upcoming tour. Would fans miss the old Hodgson classics? Perhaps, but I think it’s more important for a guy to honor his commitment to a friend. It’s a commitment he has apparently not honored in the past, but perhaps it’s not too late to make amends by making the right decision now.
For all the recent comments by Roger Hodgson, head on over to Undercover.