By Jeb Wright
Guitarist Kim Simmonds is the man with the plan in the band Savoy Brown. He’s fronted that band nearly as long as I’ve been alive (and I am no spring chicken). Along the way, he gave the start to three young dudes who joined Savoy Brown and later splintered off to form the band Foghat, among them Roger Earl.
Now, several decades down the line Earl has returned the favor and invited Simmonds to appear on Foghat’s latest album Under The Influence.
In the interview that follows Kim discusses in-depth the current day and current Foghat album, as well as his ‘other life’ as the founding member of Savoy Brown.
This is a true history lesson in rock ‘n’ roll.
Jeb: I have been friends with the Foghat organization for a long time. I know the back story pretty well… With their new release Under The Influence coming out, I think it’s pretty cool that after a long absence you guys got to play together again.
Kim: We’re still friends. We connected again…I’ve always had a great respect for Roger as a person and a drummer. He certainly helped make Savoy Brown the entity that it is. He’s really part of a classic band.
Jeb: Well he’s kind of like part of two. That’s what I always tell Roger. I say, “Man, most people are lucky to have one band doing well.” He’s been lucky enough to have two.
Kim: Well that’s very true, isn’t it? Actually he’s just had a great tour and I’m so glad for him. He’s going through a new phase at this point in his life and has been for a number of years now where he’s taken more control of the band and his business and life and I’m sure that’s gratifying for him. Yes, he’s in a good place.
Jeb: What I’d like to do, Kim, is talk to you a little bit about your experience with the reunion on Under The Influence, and then of course I’ve got to ask you some questions about your career.
Kim: Ask me whatever you want.
Jeb: Roger wanted me to be sure to ask you this, because he said, “I really want to know what he thinks of the title of the album Under The Influence.”
Kim: I think it’s great. I understood immediately what Roger was getting at because he has paid me nice compliments about what I’d meant to him in his life and career and wanted me to be a part of that, and the same with the other musicians that were there that also left a big impression. It’s very complimentary for me for someone to say that. I think the cover is great; it’s very Foghat and the whole album. Yes I get it, I get what Roger’s saying, I like it and it’s a personal statement and I think that personal statements mean a lot and I think it’s a good story, too, for Roger. When he talks about the album he can talk about what the title means and it’s a meaningful title as to him.
Jeb: You actually, if I’m correct, played on three songs and one of them you co-wrote. I think it was Under The Influence
Kim: I didn’t co-write, but I did play on those songs and I hope I added to it. It’s always difficult coming into a band that completely has it together to find a spot where you can fit in. That’s always difficult. I hope that I did add something to it because it’s never a given. What I do I do well, but it’s usually in my own context. I always find it challenging to be a part of someone else’s band, being a guest. I can only hope that Roger’s happy and hope everybody’s happy. I hope that I helped the tracks.
Jeb: Had you guys stayed in touch all these years or has it been kind of hit and miss? I know you played together on the cruise.
Kim: We’ve stayed in touch. Once when Dave had gone back to England and Roger had continued, started up Foghat again… I think we did some gigs together in those line-ups. Dave would always come to my shows. Every time we moved back through Florida, I’d play Orlando pretty much once, sometimes twice a year and Dave would always come along to every show. That really meant a lot to me.
I think I had Dave guest on an album. I had Roger guest on an album back in the ‘90s as well. We kept in touch. We talked maybe once every six months or something. We’ve always kept the thing going. When they got the whole band back together again with Rod Price I went to see them a couple of times. They actually played just down the road from where I lived. I went to travel to see them with my wife. I think we travelled two or three places to go and see the band.
I’ve always been a fan of Roger’s, Dave’s and Rod. I’d never had any relationship with Rod Price whatsoever, but then towards the end of his life we were talking on the phone and it was really enjoyable. I think with someone like myself, what I meant to all the guys in Foghat, and perhaps especially to Roger is I am the connection back to the Nag’s Head when we started in South London. I think that with the guys it was their connection back to the roots was through me. That’s what I think and I’m not trying to be--
Jeb: Makes sense...
Kim: I think they enjoyed it, and I enjoyed it too, because of course it’s reciprocal. I’ve known Roger for years and the guys, but Roger in particular. So it’s always nice to keep in touch with your roots, because I don’t think… sometimes outside people they don’t appreciate you so much as people that really have worked with you and know you. It’s always nice to be around people that understand you and know you well. Like when you go home to your parents and the family you feel comfortable because you know that your parents really know everything about you. I think it’s the same with Roger and me. We know a lot about each other and that’s the sort of a comfort that you get from still being in touch with people. I suppose it’s like old school mates or something. In this case, we are old band mates.
Jeb: That’s pretty cool. Now I do know, because Roger told me, that when you did that Rock Legends cruise that he actually did get up and sit in with Savoy. I think it was in January.
Kim: He did fantastic… oh, of course. He was great. It’s amazing with Roger. He’s just got that something about his playing that is original and a certain looseness about it that really is fun to play with.
Jeb: On this album that you did, we talked about the title track… but he did a couple of Savoy songs and I think you were on “Made Up My Mind,” weren’t you?
Kim: I can’t quite remember if I was on there to tell the truth. You’re never quite sure what they edit out.
Jeb: You’re on that one. Trust me.
Kim: Okay. [laughs] Again, I think Roger wanted to pay tribute to Savoy Brown. I think he did a great job. So that was fun. It’s always nice to revisit the old songs and I enjoyed it very much.
Jeb: Just so you know, they kept you in the mix on “Upside of Lonely” as well.
Kim: “Upside of Lonely”, oh really? Okay, good. Because I know I played the record, but I can’t quite remember what I did and what other people did. “Upside of Lonely”, okay… I’ll have to give that another listen to see if I can hear that.
Jeb: “Made Up My Mind”, “Under the Influence” and “Upside of Lonely”, those are the three.
Kim: Good, and I like that “Upside of Lonely” song.
Jeb: Tom produced this, right? He’s the Buddy Guy connection.
Kim: Yes, exactly. He’s a really good producer who’s pretty hot right now. That was a good thing to do, to work with somebody that’s doing well for himself and you hope that it throws some sparkle onto the record. I think it did, I think they’ve really got a well put together record, with the album, the producer, the guests and the material. It’s very good.
Jeb: I’m a Buddy Guy fan. You’re a blues man, so you by nature got to be a Buddy ‘guy’... [laughs]
Kim: Oh yes, we grew up listening to him. I was playing his records when I was 16 years old and here we are, I’m 68 or something and I’m still buying Buddy Guy records. I think that’s a nice thing about blues and blues people. They don’t let you down. You could be a 16 year old and you can enjoy them and you could still be at my age and you enjoy them. And not only can you enjoy them, but also invariably people like Buddy Guy and all the greats. Like B.B King… the list goes on and on. They kept creating new music.
Buddy Guy is amazing to me because he seems to have a very open mind. Because all his albums I listened to they are all quite fresh and new and modern. He doesn’t seem to be afraid to try different things. When you’re getting older it’s kind of a little difficult to do because you kind of get set in your ways.
Jeb: It is. You’ve nailed it. That’s what I like about the way you guys approach these songs that you’re on with Foghat; actually, the whole album. It’s the same style, it’s the right style… but it’s not just rehashing ideas.
Kim: Right, exactly. With Foghat and Roger the fans have to say it’s Foghat, and I think it is. I felt that when I was playing with them. It was a really, really solid band and they know what they’re doing; they’ve got their style. Let’s hope I can add something.
I think they’re on the right track by bringing me in, by bringing Nick Jameson in. We had people that, like Roger and me, played together before. They did a couple of Savoy songs, there are no problems with me playing on those. The guests -who it is we fit in to a Foghat album and song- I think that’s important. Nothing is Steve Vai or something or somebody that may be not compatible. I think the good thing about the guests and the album and the songs, everyone was compatible to Foghat.
Jeb: Although Steve Vai can play anything, I know what you mean by personalities and style. You mentioned “Upside of Lonely”... and we’re talking about Buddy Guy... The guy that sang that track, Scott Holt, of course spent time with the Buddy Guy band.
Kim: That’s right. Yes. That’s right. Now you bring it back to me. There’s quite a Buddy Guy connection going on there. Yes.
Jeb: I think Scott is a big fan of yours, too. Did you meet him? Did he say anything about Savoy?
Kim: I don’t think he quite said that, but he watched the show I did on the Legends cruise and said… I got the impression that he enjoyed my playing and I’m glad that you told me that because that’s nice to hear. He’s a great musician as well. What a lovely guy. His family is great; we got to know each other. Now that you bring it up, I’ve really got to… I don’t know if I’ve got his number but I really got to give him a call and stay in touch because he’s a lovely guy. No, he never said that he’s a fan or anything, but it’s nice to hear.
Jeb: Yes, that’s what the buzz was. I also heard the producer was pretty blown away with you.
Kim: That’s really nice, because Tom did say, “Let’s stay in touch” kind of thing and that’s another person I’ve got to call and stay in touch with. It’s nice talking to you because I’m reminded I do have a couple of calls to make. To Scott and to Tom and just to say, “Hi” and see where they’re at nowadays.
Jeb: Now there’s another Savoy Brown song I hear that happens to be -and I told Linda and Roger this- I didn’t even remember it was a Savoy Brown song until they reminded me... it’s my favorite one on the album. It’s “She’s Got A Ring In His Nose And A Ring On Her Hand”.
Kim: It was written by Chris Youlden who was a great singer in the band in the late ‘60s and one of the most talented people I’ve had in the band and it’s a classic song. I’m glad that Roger and the guys did it because it was a fun song. It didn’t make a lot of money, but it was tickling peoples’ consciousness.
Jeb: Why didn’t you play on that one?
Kim: I don’t know, really. I mean, there’s only-- What am I going to do, play on half the album?
Jeb: I think so.
Kim: [Laughter] I’m a guest and you don’t want to overplay your hand. Maybe there was no room as well, that’s the other thing. When I was listening to the thing I would say, “Is there room for me to play?” That’s the other thing. That one might have been- the track might have been laid down already. You certainly don’t want to get in the way of things.
I’m very sympathetic to being in a studio with other musicians because I am the kind of guy that can take over in a hurry. I might be sounding a little modest here, or something, and normally that’s how I am, but if you’re not careful with some of that myself, I can start getting in the way. And I realized that about myself, and at one point I think I started to on one of the songs, I think “Under the Influence”. I thought, put my own ideas in it and it was like, “Well, hold on a second. We’ve got a producer here. We’ve got a band that knows what they’re doing.” So I had to draw myself back and that’s the case with the whole thing. I’ve been a leader all my life so you can’t just ever think, before you know it, you think you know it all, because you don’t know it all. And so, I had to be careful. Yes, you know, I had to be careful that I knew my place.
Jeb: That’s pretty cool, man. You were being respectful, basically.
Kim: Very… exactly. That’s exactly what you want to be. You want to be respectful. At the same time, you don’t want to be a wolf about it, you want to try playing a song as you can and hopefully add something.
Jeb: Did you have a good time doing this? And, maybe more to the point, did you expect to have as good of a time as you did?
Kim: Well, that’s an interesting question. You’re never quite sure about the studio even when you go in yourself. You know what I mean?
Kim: Are you going to fall flat on your face? Are you going to pull this off? There’s always that element of going to the studio. So there might have been five percent of me that was kind of, “I wonder what is going to happen?” kind of feeling, but mostly I felt pretty comfortable as soon as I got there.
Roger and Linda met me at the airport, it was fantastic. I immediately knew that I was going to be taken care of. They took care of me personally. Sometimes you work with people -of course they’re famous, people are distracted- they’ve got other things to do and sometimes you are left by yourself. But I have to say that Roger and Linda were fantastic, right from the get-go. They understood what they were trying to do, they understood what the guests do, they understood how to make someone like us feel comfortable and they immediately made me feel comfortable. And so, away from the aircraft, we went to a studio and I felt so comfortable. I was like, okay, good start. And we went to a studio and it was great. It was like -- so I think a lot of it hinges around Roger and Linda because they were putting it all together. They put all the pieces together.
So, yes, the studio was a rural state studio mostly, from my memory, all wooden studio. A very hip studio, it’s used by all sorts of contemporary people there. It’s a hit factory kind of place with other studios there. I think it was three studios in this whole sort of complex, not one complex, three buildings, I think.
And so it was very nice. All the food was catered. It was sort of relaxing, almost like being in somebody’s home. Nick Jameson was fantastic to meet him. I’d never met him. Scott Holt was a dream. All the guys were just so fun. I’d known them a little bit, but this was a casual atmosphere and I think a lot of that’s got to do with Roger. The leader is the guy that checks the tone. If he’s uptight, you have an uptight situation. So, pretty much casual, ‘everything was nice’ as they say. It was an absolute blast. You’re working with other musicians, you’re learning about other musicians, you are hearing about other people’s stories, you’re getting to meet different personalities and it was everything -- actually the whole part was an absolute blast.
Jeb: Now, because Roger and Linda are friends of mine, I happened to know a couple of things. One is, you had every reason not to go straight to the studio. You had a pretty hard time getting to Nashville that day.
Kim: That’s right. It was terror; it was terror getting there, now you mention it. I think there were all sorts of cancelations. You know what the planes are like nowadays. I think before the actual sessions were going to start the next day. So I’d given myself a day to get there but it was killer. I can’t remember the details. Perhaps Linda remembers or my wife would remember but I can’t remember the details. But, now you’ve mentioned it, it was pretty tough with cancellations and all sorts of things. But I believe I got there on that day beforehand, and even then it was so good to see Roger and Linda and they made me feel so good straight away, that we went straight to the studio even after a long day like that. So that just shows you, there’s a lot of great energy and positive vibes going around.
Jeb: Yes, Roger even told me, and I’m going to kiss your backside a little bit. Actually Roger is, not me, I’m just the messenger. He said he picked you up to take you to a hotel, but you wanted to go to the studio. You walked in, picked up the guitar, started playing “Upside of Lonely”, and when you were done, he said that you got a standing ovation from the other musicians.
Kim: Yes, everybody made me feel good, I got a standing ovation. It was fine. I saw some smiles on people’s faces. That was good. Who knows? You just do what you do. Let’s just say, when you are in other people’s territory, I was happy to make people happy, that’s great. That’s nice to hear. Thank you for that. I was there so, yes, you’re sort of aware that people are liking, but I didn’t realize it was a standing ovation.
Jeb: Roger gave you a great compliment to me behind your back and he said he’s always thought you are a great guitar player. He said you’ve truly now become one of the greats and he said you are playing now with, not that you didn’t before, but right now you are playing with pure desire.
Kim: Well I think that’s very nice to hear and I think that you do reach those points where -- it’s a little scary because you think, “Well, is this it, now? What’s next in terms of—have I reached that point in life where all the pieces have come together?” I think that what people do forget, and Roger doesn’t forget, is that in ‘68, ’69, especially ’69, I was probably one of the best around and I’ll say that with complete modesty. It wasn’t as though Savoy Brown was The Who, or something. We were just niche. So I do appreciate…
I think what happened with me that somewhat diminished my abilities were through the difficult ‘70s. As the ‘70s went on I had difficulties and especially in the ‘80’s, I had some very personal difficulties in my life and I had to overcome business difficulties as well. I think that they sort of got in the way of my guitar playing. Bit by bit those business and personal issues almost took me down. I was almost out of the game, but I managed to pull on through and I remarried about 25 years ago.
I’ve been married to the lady now for that length of time and from that point on I was able to start to have the kind of support that someone like myself needs, the support that someone like Roger has with Linda. I’ve had that support the last quarter of a century. I’ve started to get back that magic from the late ‘60’s, I think.
I don’t think I’m a better guitar player than in ’69 because a lot of what I do is exactly the same as what I did in ‘69. I think I’ve got the fire back, the creativity back, the energy back… All those things that were dissipated as I went through life because all the distractions of life got in the way of my playing. And I think that that sort of took me out of the game a bit.
I think that with someone like myself it’s very important, all those aspects are very important to my playing. I can’t play independently of support. I’m not one of those people that sort of says, “Hey I’m this good, and it doesn’t matter about what’s going on around me.” I need the support of you saying to me now, that people enjoy my playing. I need the support of someone like Roger in the studio.
It’s strange to say that because I am a strong leader. When it comes to being a leader of a band, and then being a guitar player, it’s a different thing. Sometimes it’s difficult to be both. You can be a really good leader, but then what about your guitar playing? If you concentrate on your guitar playing, all of a sudden you’re not leading the band. There is a lot to do back in those days, and I didn’t do it all particularly well as time went on.
Anyway, this is a long story but it brings me to the point where it was a good experience. When you go through that experience where all of a sudden your playing is pretty bad, you don’t want to go back there, and you don’t take it for granted any more. You say, “Hey this could be taken away from you in a hurry.” Really, to tell the truth, all I’m doing is trying to capture that ‘something’ I had in ’69, which was pretty special, I think. I think anybody that would have seen Savoy Brown and myself play will tell you-- I hear it all the time even now. I hear of stories, second-hand stories that confirm that, from musicians. That’s a very special year for the band, and a special year for me. I can’t sort of just say, “’69”, I’m zooming in on just one year but in fact, through the time period, for a few years really, I guess. I do understand that I am playing well nowadays, but as I say, I remind other people and myself that I was a pretty good guitar player back then.
Jeb: What I hear you saying… and I’ve been told this in other interviews… one guy put it the best; I don’t remember which guitar player it was, he said, “It’s not about being a better guitarist, it’s about being a better musician.” I’ve had people try to explain the same thing…
Kim: Yes, well that’s what it is. It really is… being a better musician is listening. You’re listening to other people; you’re not just playing for yourself. You got to play to the song, and a good musician plays to the song. You’re not just playing for yourself; you’re trying to play to the song.
Jeb: Now you were with a couple of good musicians here that I have to mention, because one of my favorite guys, especially on the slide, is Bryan Bassett.
Kim: He’s fantastic, and he’s a humble guy, great guy. Yes, he played some great stuff on the album. I mean he’s a wonderful player.
Jeb: Had you ever played with him before, Kim?
Kim: I don’t know if I’ve played with him. I must have jammed with Roger when he was in—Oh, I did, of course. I jammed on the cruise with Foghat too, the first night I think, and I jammed. But you weren’t on the cruise, right?
Jeb: No, no. I wish would have been.
Kim: I knew Bryan previously, when Dave was in the band. I think I jammed a couple of times over the years. Bryan is fantastic, great slide player. Really, what a talented person he is, because he’s terrific in the studio, I mean he has produced. That’s the kind of person you need in a band that can wear a number of hats.
Jeb: Then we have the true rock star of the group, Charlie Huhn.
Kim: Well he is, isn’t he? He got the rock star pedigree really.
Jeb: He does.
Kim: I had followed him for years. I’ve known about him for years, I’ve seen him play for years. I’ve seen him play with Ted Nugent. I believe he was with Ted Nugent.
Jeb: He was.
Kim: I’ve seen him play with other acts as well, and Charlie always was one of those people that you knew was great. And then, lo and behold, Foghat. I’ve actually always been a fan of Charlie’s. He sings fantastic, he is a real singer and he plays great guitar, so he’s got the whole thing going. I don’t know what today’s situation is. What’s happening with the bass player? I don’t know if they’ve got a permanent replacement yet.
Jeb: Well, Rodney O’Quinn is now the permanent replacement. He was Pat Travers’ bass player in the recent past, and was given the ‘stamp of approval’ by Craig MacGregor. Rodney is a great one. Of course, Roger Earl you’ve recorded with a long time ago. What was it like recording with him again, and has he changed any?
Kim: I don’t think... I don’t think. It’s the same with me. I don’t think any of us really change. Like I say about my guitar playing, probably the same things I did back then, and Roger is as well. I think Roger really defined his playing with a strong act. He became this incredibly good rock drummer. All you got to do is listen to the drumming on “Slow Ride”. It’s just magnificent. All I can say is it’s magnificent. He definitely has refined, and defined, and focused his playing.
I think back in the ‘60s he was influenced by a lot of different things. I would do a lot of different music with Savoy Brown so I can get him to play more jazz-like or blues-like or rock-like. That’s what the ‘60s was all about, more of a melting pot. Then as the ‘70s came on he really kind of honed his style and I think that’s very important, that you’re not all over the place, that you have a focus, and that you have a strength. I see what Roger’s strength is and you hear it on “Slow Ride”. It’s just one of the reasons that song works. Yes it’s a great song. You can go on and on. But that drumming, man, is fantastic.
Jeb: Savoy Brown has been around for 50 years.
Kim: When were you born? What year?
Kim: Ah, 1966. Okay.
Jeb: I think it’s neat. I actually discovered your band because I was a Foghat fan. The connection worked backwards. As you know with the blues guys you love-- you get into it then you find out who sang everything, and who played everything. Then you want to read about them. Then you want to hear their record. That’s exactly how I discovered your music. You know a guy that’s done this for as long as you, and you’re still writing new material, too, that’s the cool thing… You must have a passion for this music that’s just as deep as life itself.
Kim: Well I think so. I think that it means more to me than I really understand myself. There is many times when I will say, “I’ve spun it and sell it. I can walk away from this.” I think there is a portion of you that can do that… at least for someone like myself. I can probably walk away from it and not come back. Having said that, the motivation to play, and the motivation to be the best you can be, and the passion you have for it, I don’t think would allow me to walk away no matter what I might think at times.
There is something going on that I don’t quite understand. I don’t think it’s something-- I don’t think you get through 50 years of anything particularly understanding what you’re doing. If you do try to understand it too much, you could tarnish it. I just ran with the ball, and let it all happen, the good and the bad. It suits me very well. I haven’t got the patience for much in life at all, but I have patience for bands and music, and travelling and the music business. I can sit in an airport for five hours for a delay and it doesn’t bother me. I can travel for 15 hours a day. It doesn’t bother me. I have the patience which I think a lot of people don’t have. Do you know what I mean? I can put up with all the stuff that goes on that you have to put up with to continue a long career. It’s just not hard for me to do.
I certainly like to be comfortable nowadays, don’t get me wrong. Of course the travelling as a musician is really what it’s all about. If you don’t like traveling, don’t become a musician. I’ve always loved travelling. As a kid, like us all, probably, at least a lot of us, you see planes and boats and ships. You see them departing. There was always a romance to me, like so many of us, to be-- that sort of gypsy in me. You want to do that. You want to travel. You want to be able to play. You want to be on the ship. You want to be on the bus. I think that that is one of the things that keeps me going. It’s that romantic attachment to simply wanting to travel.
Jeb: Well, that’s a big point, because that is what you do most of the time.
Kim: It really is and if you don’t-- if you try to hack it you’re not going to stay in this business very long. Yes, you might stay in the business 15 years. You might stay in the business 20 years. It’s like everything else, if you’re staying there for decades. Someone like John Mayall. He’s amazing, because he can deal with all the travelling, and he does even more than I can even imagine. Puts me to shame. I’ve seen the bands he’s had, much younger bands completely beat and tired, and John’s like, “Okay this is nothing. It’s a walk in the park.” You just got to have-- I think that’s one of the things, you’ve got to have the temperament for it. Of course it’s a passion. When I’m on stage I live guitar playing. It’s a wonderful feeling. It is something that it is like a drug. It really is. It’s just you’re in a bubble. It’s fantastic, that wonderful world on that stage that you can inhabit. You can be a 19 year old kid again. You can really-- I think that’s one of the glories and the beauties about this kind of career I have had, is that you can-- it’s the stuff of dreams, isn’t it? You know what I mean.
Kim: That’s exactly what it is. It’s all the stuff of dreams. It’s nice to be able to still dream. Which is what we all do, but in my case I can go on stage, and I can make it a reality. Especially if you’re a musician you could sort of say, “Well, I want to try this different sound. I want to try this different guitar. I want to have fun doing this.” All musicians are like that. I’m just in the position where I can actually do it. There are a lot of amateur musicians who’ll be at home, they’ll try all the different things, but I’m in that beautiful position where I can actually have that dream. Use this guitar, and have this—well, do whatever I want to do, and make it a reality when I walk on stage. That is a very cool thing to be able to do. Maybe I’ll try to be Albert King tonight. Maybe I’ll say, “I’ll be Buddy Guy.” Well I can go on and I can maintain that Buddy Guy for a moment. It’s that wonderful situation when you’re on stage where you can play out your dreams.
Jeb: You bring something up right at the end there which was going to be my next question. Forgive me for asking… I don’t want to make you talk for an hour on one question because I’ve been-
Kim: I’ve got to stop shortly because I can hear my voice starting to go, but go ahead.
Jeb: Okay. Well yes, this is one that will be tempting. You could probably tell me stories all night, but what was it that got you to be ‘into the blues’? I mean, you were in-- you weren’t in America. This was American music. How did you end up a blues guy?
Kim: Well, through my elder brother. We’ve all got parents, or a sister, or a brother, or a friend, or something that change your music. I think with myself I was perhaps about five, six years old, and I started to-- my brother would bring home records that he was buying, and I would sit by the record player and listen to that music. And so it went from, so I just heard the whole gamut of pop and rock music. I would say more like rock music actually from ‘52 right up to date. It started with Johnnie Ray; some people arguably say that Cry by Johnnie Ray was the first rock and roll record. Then there was Bill Haley. I used to listen to Bill Haley, and some people arguably say that Rock Around the Clock was the first rock record. Then Elvis Presley came along, and people say that was the first rock and roll record. So it went like that through the ‘50s when I was a kid, listening to all these great records and then I think we all realized that by the time the early ‘60s came around that, “Hey, this is just blues music.” And like you with Savoy Brown and Foghat, we would listen to Elvis Presley and go, “Oh, who is Arthur Crudup?” We’d find out that this guy wrote that song.
We realized there was blues music behind it all and then I would say in ’62, or ‘63 I was really lucky because the Rolling Stones came out. They were called the first blues- they weren’t called blues bands, the first R&B band, they were called. The Animals, they came out. I had a big record collection via my brother of all the blues stuff, then I could go out and see the Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, people like that. Then you had the great American blues players playing in Europe. I went to see them in England and I was getting this great education but luckily, as I say it’s through my brother, I understood what the blues is all about and it really appeals to me because it’s honest music. When I was around about 13 I had my first guitar and I started to see if I could do it, too. So that’s how I started, a bit like you, as I say, with Foghat and Savoy Brown. You start with something, and you look behind the curtain.
Jeb: Now, bringing this back to Roger. I have a couple more questions and I’ll let you go, but we’ve got to touch Roger’s time in Savoy.
Kim: Yes, it’s not about Roger, I’m giving you all my bio…
Jeb: Oh no, believe me, I’m not stopping you, I’m loving it. What was it about him? What was that young guy like? Why did you pick him out of the crowd? How did you know Roger was the guy?
Kim: Well, because he had fantastic charisma for starters. He was a really -- he had a really good personality about him, great charisma, could play the drums terrific, he was right on top of things. He was probably a disciple of Ginger Baker and he had all those abilities to be able to rock, to play jazz, to play different things. He was a very, very cool guy as a musician and a person and of course that is who you want in a band. You want somebody that’s going to inspire you and be around and he was always the same kind of guy, a beautiful guy. He wouldn’t be upset about anything, it was amazing. I just think he was ultimately cool in his fame and as a person.
Jeb: Now, this is what’s a little cloudy for me, as I’m not really big on my history. Chris was the singer, and correct me if I’m wrong, but Dave was in the band?
Jeb: But then Dave became the singer…
Kim: Yes, what happened was I knew Dave was a friend of my brother and had been at my brother’s wedding. David was older than everybody else.
Jeb: Was your brother the manager?
Kim: My brother became the band manager, yes. He was friends with Dave when they were much younger. And Dave had a band and I had seen him play and I really liked his voice. I think when I was very young I was friends with Dave’s brother, John Peverett and I think I even went on a gig with Dave’s band and maybe even play some guitar with them. So there’s a history there. So when I had Savoy Brown going, the first band started getting too psychedelic and I wanted to keep it as blues, so I changed the band completely, brought in Chris Youlden as the singer and then the band was in flux for many, many months. I was playing gigs four, five, six, seven nights a week. But the band was in flux, using different musicians, keeping the ball rolling, and I think at one point I asked Dave to -- Let me see, how did it go? Did Dave join first and then Roger? I can’t remember now what the heck happened. I think --
Jeb: I think you’re right but I’d have to check that out, too.
Kim: Maybe Dave joined first. I called Dave up and said, I knew he wasn’t -- he’d gone to Switzerland or something. He’d come back. He wasn’t in a band. I said, “Do you want to come in to the band”, because I knew he had a lot. He could sing, he could play, he had a lot going on and even though I had a singer, you want somebody that can do a lot of things. It helps the band. You don’t know how, but they’re bringing a lot to the table. Dave came in as the guitar player, as a second guitar player and I think he would do a song or two. He would do a song or two in the show, but Chris was the main man, and Chris started to write songs for the band. At that point it started to gel a bit more, and I think then we had auditions and then Roger joined and then Tony Stevens and that became the classic band of the late sixties. The band that came to America.
Then things weren’t working out with Chris between him and me, and the band started to go in a slightly different direction, which, kind of push and pull with Chris. It became too uncomfortable to continue with Chris, who then left and actually started a solo career. He had a very good opportunity there with his own contract and everything, so it’s all worked out well for everybody. I knew Dave could sing. I was a big fan of Dave’s singing, like I said, when I first heard him. I don’t think Dave quite had the confidence so I had to really say, “Hey, you can do this. You can be the lead singer of the band.” I think that had a lot to do with giving Dave the reigns. Perhaps that’s why he never forgot me. And that’s the same way with Roger, that they never forgot me because even though I—I wonder about all this stuff but I think perhaps in the case of Roger, I had an effect on him I didn’t even know I was having. I know with the case with Dave, I’ve had to think this out and talk about it a lot actually in interviews. I’ve got some new material. I designed it for Dave’s voice. It’s an album called Looking In which you should get that one if you haven’t got it because that’s got the sort of Foghat band on it.
Jeb: Yes, I’ve got it signed by Roger, actually. [laughs]
Kim: You got it, you know all about it. And then you’d know those songs around Dave’s voice. That it would really, hopefully show the vocals off, because when you have a singer in the band, they are the most important thing. It’s not the guitar, it’s not anything else. The singer is the most important thing. In so much as he is the -- Don’t get me wrong, I actually think the music is the important thing, but in terms of what the listener hears straight away, it’s the vocals.
Kim: You get in hot water if you have a vocalist in the band and you don’t do your very best to make him sound the best. You know what I mean? But having said all that, I am definitely with your opinion that the rhythm section makes everything work. If you haven’t got the drummer, and if you haven’t got the bass player, and if they’re not working together it doesn’t matter what’s going on, you’re dead in the water.
Jeb: A good rhythm section can make a mediocre guitar player sound pretty damn good.
Kim: That’s exactly it. I make plenty of records where you think it’s the material, you think it’s the songs, you think it’s this, that and the other. Sometimes you listen for a song. Maybe it’s being played over a sound system. You weren’t expecting it, and you suddenly realize how good the rhythm section is.
Jeb: Maybe this is the difficult question, but I do have to ask. It has been a long time since you guys were together in Savoy, and now you guys have been playing together recently, so it isn’t that I’m trying to get you to say anything bad. But you guys split and the other guys were playing together… was it a surprise to you, was it hard feelings? I mean, how did that all thing happen?
Kim: I just think that I completely disbanded the band, as I recall it. Especially back then, I had a very wild artistic temperament. Again, I didn’t think it was starting to work. I think there was some bad feelings inevitably, and I think that that’s what is so cool about having a relationship with Dave later on, and now, especially with Roger, is that we got over that pretty quickly. They became more famous than Savoy Brown could ever be. I was never anything, I was so happy to see them have success, because I’ve had plenty of success after we had parted, and I went on to more successes. It was nice to see the guys making such good records and doing so well. So I’ve never had any ill feelings and I think obviously with the Foghat guys too, with Roger especially, there’s never really been any real ill feelings. We all know that these things happen in life. People get divorced. Most marriages don’t stay together. Most bands don’t stay together. So I think that we were all mature enough to look back and say, “Hey, that’s what happens with bands.” We all got over it and we became really good friends. At the time, I think there was some animosity between us a little bit, but it soon went.
Jeb: That’s cool. And that’s what makes this Under the Influence— not that it’s been that long since you’ve done things, like you’ve said, you’ve remained friends and done it, but here it got to be such a relaxed atmosphere, a fun time, and music made for the right reasons between you and Roger. That has to be a great way to wrap this up.
Kim: It’s made me feel enormously good, and it’s made me realize what friends I have with Roger and his wife. How could I be so lucky to have such friends? How could I be so lucky to have family who respects me so much? How can I be so lucky to be able to play in this album? How can I be so lucky to be considered like Roger considers me? And it’s like, wow, this is so damn cool. Makes me feel so good, and probably one of the nicest things that can happen to you is a situation like this, where there’s lots of water under the bridge, but in the end there’s something, respect and admiration for each other. It trumps everything. It’s a beautiful thing.
Jeb: I don’t think I can end it any better than that. That touched me, that was awesome. Now, this question has a short answer. It’ll be my last one —it has nothing to do with anything else. I’m a huge Van Halen fan. Dave Lee Roth played some Savoy Brown songs on a solo album. Did you ever get to hear him?
Kim: I think I heard him. I heard that. That was very cool. I’ve never met him. I’ve never met any of those guys, so I don’t know what the story was. I got the impression. I think we’ve got pretty good taste.
That was pretty cool. I think that Savoy Brown, especially when Roger was in the band, because that’s the classic band, I think the band really resonated with musicians. I think it was a very cool band- musically, a lot of great personalities with it, talk about Roger’s personality. I think that that comes through in the music. So a lot of musicians responded to that. I think a lot of musicians wanted to be that. It’s a blueprint for people. This is how it could be true.
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