Supertramp

  • Progressive/Pop rock band formed in 1969 in London England. Original members were Rick Davies (vocals, keyboard, harmonica), Roger Hodgson (vocals, guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, percussion), RIchard Palmer (guitar), and Keith Baker (drums).
  • Davies was a member of a band called The Joint, which was financed by Sam Miesegas, a Dutch millionaire. Miesegas was disappointed with The Joint, but was impressed with Davies’ talent. He offered Davies the chance to form a band, with Miesegas providing financial backing.
  • Davies assembled the group, initially known as Daddy. Davies and Hodgson had much different musical interests, but they immediately connected, and started writing music together, with Palmer working on lyrics.
  • By 1970, the band was performing in concerts, though not very well. They changed their name to Supertramp to avoid confusion with another band named Daddy Longlegs. They chose Supertramp based on a book written by William Henry Davies in 1908 – The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp.
  • Their first album, Supertramp, was released in 1970 only in the UK and Canada. The record did not perform well. The band then went through several personnel changes, with Davies and Hodgson remaining the leaders. Their second album, Indelibly Stamped, was released in 1971, and did even worse than their first album. With that, Miesegas stopped supporting the band in 1972.
  • In 1973, Davies and Hodgson held auditions for new members. Dougie Thompson joined as the bass guitarist. Bob Siebenberg was chosen for drums and John Helliwell was picked for saxophone and other woodwinds. This group became the band for the next 10 years.
  • Their third album, Crime of the Century, finally gave them their breakthrough. The 2 singles that were modest hits were Dreamer and Bloody Well Right. 
  • This was followed by Crisis? What Crisis? The band considered this their worst album, as they had to rush to produce it between concert tours. The singles did not chart, though the album itself managed to hit #44 on the Billboard 200 album chart.
  • Their biggest successes were with their next 2 albums. Even In the Quietest Moments was released in 1977, and the single Give A Little Bit reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Then, 1979’s Breakfast In America was released, giving them their first (and only) #1 album, with 4 successful singles. The album sold over 4 million copies in the U.S. and over 20 million copies worldwide. The classic rock singles were The Logical Song and Take the Long Way HomeThe Logical Song includes 2 sound effects – the “tackle” sound from the Mattel Electronic Football game and the “pop” sound from the Pop-O-Matic of a Trouble game.
  • The first album of the 80s – …Famous Last Words… – made it to #5 in the U.S., but sales were more modest. The single It’s Raining Again was their last to approach the top 10 of the charts.
  • By 1983, Hodgson decided to leave the band, pursuing a solo career, and Davies has led Supertramp ever since. The 2 albums released in the 80s after Hodgson’s departure are more experimental. By 1988, the band took a break. Davies reunited the band with several new members in 1996. An album and tour soon followed. Another album and tour occurred in 2002. While no more recordings have been released, the band still tours today.
  • The band released a total of 11 studio albums, 4 live albums and 28 singles.
  • The early Supertramp music and its progressive rock sound got me interested in the band. As they became more popular, I became less interested. They are solidly included in Classic Rock song lists – rockandrollamerica.net places The Logical Song as #52 on their list of the top 1000 classic rock songs – that is impressive! Interesting that on YouTube, almost everything by Supertramp is actually Roger Hodgson performing a Supertramp song – I think the lawyers are somehow involved! Here’s Hodgson performing Give a Little Bit. 

3 thoughts on “Supertramp”

  1. Super Tramp is my all time favorite band. I had the good fortune to see them in concert in Madison,WI On the dance line in High School my routine was to Dreamer– who does that? A true supertramp fan does. I would like to challenge you- give a little bit was not their best song from that album–:)

    1. Sandy, thanks for the comments. My favorite was “School”, but “Dreamer” was solid – as was pretty much every song on the Crime of the Century album. As for “Give a Little Bit” from the Even In The Quietest Moments album, I agree, it’s not the best…in fact, it is the worst song on the album. Being a prog rock man, I’d go with the epic “Fools Overture.”
      How about you?

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