Supertramp War of Words Heats Up Prior to Start of Tour

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It could have been the kind of reunion that fans like myself have been dreaming about. An event that would have coaxed me out of my lair to experience live. I’ve talked about my experience at a Supertramp show before, so I won’t rehash it all again except to say it was the best concert I have ever attended.

Although the guys we once knew collectively as Supertramp have aged, and may not be able to hit all the notes they once did, or play with quite the same level of energy that’s enabled by youth, I still think they could have put on one hell of a show. Unfortunately, it seems as if the bad blood between co-founders Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson will not allow that to happen.

Although Supertramp is indeed set to tour in the coming months, and I’m willing to believe that they may put on a fine show, it’s won’t be Supertramp at its best, and by that, I mean it will not include Roger Hodgson.

Hodgson has made his feelings known following the announcement that his former band mate Rick Davies is taking Supertramp on the road. This, apparently, is fine with Hodgson. Davies owns the right to use the name Supertramp, but Hodgson, who is still touring and performing Supertramp material that he has written, says that Davies will be violating a sort of “gentlemen’s agreement” if any of his songs are performed by Supertramp.

Initially we did not hear much from the Davies camp. A few days ago he broke his silence with a rather brief statement a-fight-is-brewingon the official Supertramp website. Davies claims that he and Hodgson negotiated for 15 months regarding a reunion but were unable to reach an agreement.

The statement goes on to clarify some details of the Supertramp tour, specifically that Hodgson will not be included and that they “wish Roger well.” The statement also adds that they “sincerely hope this puts an end to the confusion that has been circulating on the internet and in the press.”

I have a feeling that’s not going to happen.

Hodgson has fired back with a statement on his own website that denies that he had been talking to Davies about a reunion. He also publicly details the terms of the agreement he says he made with Davies when he left the band. Hodgson’s site also includes a listing of Supertramp songs and whether the song was written by Hodgson or Davies.

This may be Hodgson’s way of throwing down the gauntlet and reaffirming that he does not want Davies & Co. performing his material. Furthermore, the statement indicates that the agreement that was made between Hodgson and Davies was more than a simple “gentlemen’s agreement,” and that “The publishing company & the contract legally recognize which songs each songwriter actually wrote and Roger was given legal copyright and approval rights for his songs and Rick for his.”

The list of songs on Hodgson’s site is not simply a list however. According to the statement, it is actually “Exhibit A of the contract,” which is further explained as, "a schedule of the titles… showing the actual writer(s) of each composition giving Roger the approval rights of his songs and Rick the rights for his.”

Although Hodgson says that Davies has performed his material in the past and chose to remain silent about it (excluding communication with Davies), it appears he is no longer willing to look the other way. It appears Hodgson and his camp may be ratcheting this up a notch and is hinting at legal action if Davies defines the agreement.

These developments suggest that a full Supertramp reunion will never happen. If comments from fans here are any indication, Davies may be seen as the bad guy in this continuing saga. Hodgson seems to be viewed by many fans as a peacemaker and genuinely nice fellow, who reached out to Davies and offered to appear with Supertramp when his schedule would permit. Hodgson’s camp says that offer was rebuffed.

Looking at the list of songs each of these two songwriters has penned, it would appear that Davies has a wealth of superb content to use as he tours with Supertramp. In fact, Davies’ side of the list includes some of my personal Supertramp favorites like “Bloody Well Right” and “Another Man’s Woman.”

It was interesting to note that the number of songs both Hodgson and Davies wrote are about equal, but also sad to see that fan wishes for a genuine Supertramp reunion have come to this. When you see excerpts from “Exhibit A” being presented, it certainly does not bode well for a Hodgson-Davies reconciliation.

5 Comments

  1. Warren Preiss July 26, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    I don’t think you can blame Roger Hodgson’s fans for posting multiple posts here or elsewhere. Without the brand-name ‘Supertramp’ and the mass publicity and attention it can provide it must be incredibly hard for Roger to inform fans of his side of the story and help them avoid being duped by Rick into paying to see poor cover versions of his songs.

    I can’t imagine how heartbreaking it must be to know that songs you wrote from the truest places inside yourself are being stolen (against an agreement) by a band merely to sell tickets.

    On this video you can hear and see the incredible difference between the way Roger plays his song ‘The Logical Song’ and the way the new Supertramp cover it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnGXgEgiYy4

    – by the way, I’m a fan in New Zealand, yet to visit Sacramento..

    • Real Rock News July 26, 2010 at 10:36 pm

      Whether or not that are simply “fans” was very much in question.

      The evidence I saw suggested to me that it was promotional in nature, but I believe that was all made very clear in my earlier content.

  2. CHoc Donut May 9, 2011 at 5:56 am

    When a band is already established, and then they bring in a guy who blossoms into a hardcore hitwriter like Hodgson, there’s gonna be problems, because Supertramp already existed as a functioning unit, but Hodgson sent them into the stratosphere. Somewhere in all of this, there’s a fight over money, probably more than ego. Hodgson does seem like a nice guy, but he’s obviously no pushover if he’s been successful in the music business. I know plenty of people that seem nice. It’s gotta all come down to numbers, and fact is, that he probably didn’t get what publishing he felt he was due, and/or didn’t like Davies personally, and hit the road. Supertramp is touring, so he must not be able to enforce his song rights over the rights of the band he joined willingly. To me it smells like Davies and Co are dirty, but who knows.

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