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Hodgson, Roger

Category: Musician or composer

Charles Roger Pomfret Hodgson (born 21 March 1950) is an English musician, singer and songwriter.  He was the former co-frontman and founder member of the group Supertramp and composed and sang the majority of their hits such as "Dreamer", "Give a Little Bit", "Breakfast in America", "Take the Long Way Home", "The Logical Song" and "It's Raining Again". 

The album Breakfast in America has come to mean a lot to many people, as one commentator put it “It really was a great and meaningful record”.  But interestingly, Hodgson himself has said that he considers the band’s 1974 album Crime of the Century to be its defining work.

Supertramp became a worldwide rock phenomenon, selling well over 60 million albums. In Canada alone, sales for “Crime of the Century” and “Breakfast in America” reached Diamond status, meaning one in fifteen Canadians owned both albums. The wildly successful album “Breakfast in America" hit number one in countries around the world and stayed on the top of the charts for a full year, selling over 20 million copies and becoming one of the biggest selling albums of all time.

In May 2012, Hodgson was honoured by France as a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters. This prestigious decoration was established in 1957 by the French Minister of Culture to recognise significant contributions to the arts.

Roger continues to compose music and write lyrics and has over 60 unreleased songs, some of which he plans to record 'when the time is right'.  He compares his writing process to an artist painting a picture, keeping it close to his heart until the picture is complete before he shares it with the world.


Roger and the spiritual life

From very early on Roger was questioning and searching for something that in his youth, he could not yet define.


I was very sensitive and intuitive. I don’t know whether I felt different but I had very deep questions going on and I was surprised that other people didn’t. I wanted to know where true happiness lay. I wanted to know who or what God was because it didn’t make any sense. The God they taught me was not working. I knew there had to be an inward connection as that is where everything was pointing. It was a connection that was severely lacking in me and I was longing for it.

Roger joined Supertramp and toured, but that longing did not go away, if anything it became more intense and urgent.

In 1981, Hodgson moved his family from Los Angeles to northern California, where he built a home studio and began contemplating solo recordings.  Hodgson felt increasingly constrained in the group context, and during the tour for …Famous Last Words… he made the final decision to leave.  Roger left Supertramp in 1983 and settled down in his new home near Lake Tahoe, with the intent to live a simpler lifestyle close to nature and to be home with his children as they were growing up.  But this was only part of his motivation, as this simpler, natural and more love based lifestyle away for the pressures of the touring circuit, was also essential to his peace of mind and increasingly spiritual life.

That same spiritual life was also the means by which he achieved inspiration for his songs.  He thrives and thrived by living a simpler, quieter more meditative and spiritual life.


The music always came pretty easily. Both the music and the lyrics come from the same place. For me, composing is literally losing myself in the music. I let the inspiration just come naturally. It is a very magical process. When I start hearing melodies, then I just start singing and the words start coming. The words will have something to do with what I am going through in my life, or what’s in my heart at the time. I will have an idea of what the songs about and then work with the melody.

Writing songs and even hearing them in my head came to me when I was totally alone. It was something that I learned almost by accident that writing songs didn’t come from my head. It was almost like when I got out of the way, that’s when magic happened. I realized without even really realizing what I was realizing that when I lost myself in the sound of the instrument I was playing, that was when creative ideas and inspiration came to me. …... It was wonderful to have, then, these visions of the songs to take to a band like Supertramp and say, “This is what I want, guys. I want you to play this, I want you to play this.” I really did hear almost all of the whole song before I took it to the band.

Roger’s songs have always been very personal, very autobiographical and really reflective of what’s been going on inside him.

“Dreamer,” I was a consummate dreamer at that point. I was a young man with many dreams and when I wrote the song “Dreamer” it exploded out of me one day as I was sat at the Wurlitzer piano for the first time alone in a room. I started playing and this song just erupted out of me. Then “Hide In Your Shell” was very autobiographical. At the time, I was feeling very alone, I had a lot of questions but I was also getting into a lot of personal growth in myself. I had just turned vegetarian, my spiritual quest was coming on really strongly and it was not really understood by those around me, both in the band and out. It was a really hard time, and I did “hide in my shell” a lot. The songs are very autobiographical.

The end result is that many of his fans have gained great comfort from his lyrics.


I had a guestbook on my website, you should really check it out sometimes and see some of the postings I get.
There was this eighteen year-old girl who posted yesterday saying she wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for my songs, and now they’re helping her get through her finals. She’s using the songs as a friend and a support and a comfort to get through life.
I’ve heard this story so, so many times and for me as a human being and as an artist I take it as a great responsibility.
It’s a very deep connection that I have, all of the places in me—the pain, the longing, the joy, the questions, the journey that I’ve been on—that I’ve been able to express all of these feelings, fears, insecurities, everything that I’ve expressed have helped others not feel alone in their lives.
To me, that’s the greatest thing that I’ve achieved as a performer and an artist.


Life and career

 

Hodgson was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, on 21 March 1950, the son of Charles and Jill Hodgson, and grew up in Oxford. He attended boarding schools Woodcote House near Windlesham, Surrey, where he was the first boy to learn electric guitar, and Stowe School near Buckingham, Buckinghamshire.

Hodgson's first guitar, given to him when he was 12, was a parting gift from his father when his parents divorced.  He took it to boarding school with him. Learning three chords from his teacher, he began writing songs at the age of 12, eventually adding piano, bass, drums, and even cello to his musical accomplishments. He began composing his own music and lyrics and within a year gave his first concert at school with nine original songs at the age of 13. Hodgson's first band at school consisted of him on guitar and his friend Roy Hovey playing snare drums. They were dubbed the "H-bombs" because of their last names.

When aged 19, Roger Hodgson made his first appearance in a recording studio as guitarist for People Like Us, a band he joined shortly after leaving boarding school. After People Like Us disbanded, Hodgson auditioned for Island Records, with Traffic's road manager providing him a foot in the door with the label. Island set him up in a recording studio as vocalist for the one-off "flower power" pop band Argosy, which also included Reginald Dwight - later known as Elton John, Caleb Quaye, and Nigel Olsson.  After the break-up of Argosy, Hodgson, responding to an advert placed in Melody Maker by Rick Davies, auditioned for the guitarist spot in the progressive rock band Supertramp.

Roger Hodgson of Supertramp Brings Sold Out Crowd to Their Feet By Kathy Stockbridge On Oct 10, 2017

At the age of 12, Roger Hodgson was given a guitar that would mould his destiny of writing and composing music.  For anyone who has listened to Roger’s music, you can tell it’s written from the heart as it touches those that hear it in a way that is personal to them.  The lyrics are meaningful, melodies well thought out and it’s composed as a classical piece of music is, with thought and organization.  As one of the founders of Supertramp, Roger Hodgson would have numerous Top 10 hits, sell out arenas and live a life that most musicians strove to achieve.

By 1974, Supertramp had moved to America, Hodgson bewitched by the Californian lifestyle.
"It was full of eccentrics, there was a thriving musical scene and there was a very forward way of thinking," he recalls. "At the time my spiritual quest was very intense. I was looking for personal answers for who I was, and it was a good place to go at a time when in England you were considered crazy if you were vegetarian."

Roger married Karuna, on March 7, 1979.  They had two children Andrew and Heidi.

Supertramp's Hodgson to hit road – Rock,September 2nd 1983

Hodgson lives on a 240-acre plot. "I love to drive my tractor. It's a very necessary balance for me, to get out in the fresh air," he said. Hodgson's daughter, Heidi, 4, was born just 12 minutes before one of their 1979 gigs.

and

Bernard Perusse, Montreal Gazette - April 29, 2009

The reasons for Hodgson’s departure from Supertramp in 1983 have been the subject of speculation. ….With 26 years of hindsight, however, Hodgson cited the demands of family and a need for the spiritual fulfilment he wasn’t getting from being a rock ’n’ roll star. While he didn’t deny that peace and harmony were in short supply within the Supertramp camp when he left, he maintained that none of the politics would have affected his decision.

"I had two small children.” (Hodgson’s son, Andrew, is now 27 and his daughter, Heidi, is 29.)   “I had to turn my attention to raising my children. Otherwise, I’d be looking back 20 years farther on, with a lot of regret that I missed out on their childhood and all the rich experiences that go along with that,” he said. “It was a ballsy decision – and one that was not easy to take. Believe me, the fans came down on me, the industry came down on me, the band came down on me.

Roger was always less enthusiastic about showbiz razzmatazz than the rest of Supertramp.  After leaving Supertramp, he lived reclusively with his wife Karuna, and his two children in a village near Lake Tahoe in California. "I don't know if we'll ever come back to Britain” he said at the time "England has a better education system than America - but I won't be sending my children to public school."

Once he had setup the UNICORN studio at his home in Nevada City, Roger released a number of  solo albums -  In The Eye of The Storm, 1984; the second solo album Hai Hai released, 1987; and a third album, Rites Of Passage released in 1997. 

Hodgson’s search for a new beginning and new meaning in his life  were the inspiration for these new songs. He performed, arranged and produced all of the songs on In The Eye of The Storm except for a few pieces on which Michael Shrieve played the drums, Jimmy Johnson fretless bass and Ken Allardyce harmonica.  In The Eye of The Storm went platinum.

Hodgson’s second solo album Hai Hai released in 1987.  One week after Hai Hai was released Hodgson broke his wrists in an accident.

Interview by: Russell A. Trunk - Exclusive Magazine

That was a very traumatic event in my life. I took a very bad fall and shattered both of my wrists. They were broken in a 100 fractures and the doctors told me that I would never play again. I went through a lot of depression and a lot of pain and suffering around that time. At a certain point, I decided I was not going to accept the doctors' conclusion and that I was going to heal my wrists. It’s a miracle what happened for me. I did it through Prayer and intention, and physical therapy and worked hard at it. It took me two years and now they are healed. In fact, today you would never know that I ever broke my wrists - they work perfectly.

The reason for the very long gap between the second and third album, however, is that it would take him a decade to recover emotionally, until his comeback in 1997. 



The doctors had told me I'd never play again, I had to do a lot of examination of who I was and what would make me happy. 

  ….Who I was as a man, as a musician, as a human being – the value I put on myself – was suddenly taken away, ……………

The recovery led me to seek answers in my compass – spirituality, …….I was really trying to find my happiness, my peace, my sense of purpose, my sense of belonging, ……

For many, many years, I found that in music, but music became a crutch for my feelings of self-worth – and meanwhile, as a man, I was totally dysfunctional.
So I had a lot of healing and growing to do on that level.


After Hodgson’s numerous attempts to create satisfying results in his studio had failed, his wife Karuna took the initiative.

Convinced that only live performing could enable her husband to overcome his self-doubt and perfectionism, and to re-awaken his joy in life and music, she conceived the idea of a live album that would get Hodgson back in touch with his music. Hodgson later told the Los Angeles Times: “She took the risk and was courageous enough to say, ‘Roger, all you have to do is show up and play. I’ll handle everything else.’” And that she did. Not only did she provide funding and successfully ensure that Hodgson and the band worked together instead of having the band work for him, she also founded her own record label to avoid the pressure that comes with contracting for a major label.

Physically weakened by post-infectious arthritis resulting from a trip to South America and emotionally exhausted from witnessing his sister Caroline’s death from cancer, Hodgson managed to finish the work on the live album.

A quickly assembled band including Hodgson’s son Andrew and Supertramp saxophonist John Heliwell performed at six quickly organized concerts in August 1996 during his son’s summer break from school. Although they planned to use the best recordings from all the performances for the album, all the songs on Rites Of Passage came from a concert performed in Hodgson’s hometown Nevada City. They included six new Hodgson songs, three of his Supertramp classics, two songs by band member Mikail Graham, and one by his son Andrew who also played drums, piano and harmonica.

Throughout 1998 he promoted his album Rites of Passage. The national tour—his first in more than 14 years—took Hodgson to over 25 cities in the US and Canada. Like the album, the tour presented a mixture of Hodgson’s Supertramp hits and new material that he performed alone on guitar, keyboards and the old pump organ on which he composed hits for Supertramp back in the 1970s. In interviews posted on his official Web site Hodgson commented on renewed musical energy: “My creative juices are flowing again and I feel the best is yet to come… I’m very hungry to play for people again and I’m ready for a new love affair with my music and the world.”

By 1999, Hodgson was working on his new album Open The Door.  In 2000, he released “Open the Door” and in 2001, after taking many years off from touring to raise his children, Roger joined Ringo Starr in his All Starr Band Tour. It is only since 2004, with his children fully grown, that Roger has felt the call to tour regularly again and this has been what he has been doing since.  Roger tours worldwide, selling out shows all over the globe and receiving fantastic reviews from media and fans alike.  He is performing both public and private concerts in a variety of formats - solo, with backing band, and with symphony orchestra.

There is perhaps one sad event in a lifetime of relative joy.  Roger and Karuna divorced in 2003, by which time they had been married 24 years.  In 2007 he was considering selling his home in northern California.   By then he was 57 and for 27 years had lived in the same house in Nevada City.  He described it as 'a very small house near Lake Tahoe, set in three acres, with three bedrooms and a substantial recording studio which I built attached to it.  It's nothing opulent and all my gold albums and so on are just in a box in the garage. I'm going to sell it, because I'm living out of a suitcase most of the time now.'

Hodgson's tour schedules are incredible; in 2017 he had dates in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, the UK, Netherlands, France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, Monaco and Canada. In December 2017, Hodgson toured with Night of the Proms for 17 shows in Germany and Luxembourg.

But it appears that it is the connection he gets with his audience and their response that drive this exhausting schedule.  During his concerts, Hodgson often shares stories with the audience of how his songs were written and "connects deeply with the fans in a way few stars of his stature do".

Subba-Cultcha magazine

Alternating between electric keys, a grand piano and several guitars, Hodgson effortlessly weaves the music around his audience giving an almost cathartic emotional release in some cases ... His instantly recognisable voice and pulsating keys are in as fine a form as you will hear, and the genuine friendliness and personality of Hodgson, comes across in waves from stage to audience.

and thus we have his motivation - love.


I believe that the music industry is a service industry.

I think if you’re blessed enough to have music running through your veins then the way to get the most fulfilment from the gift you’ve been given is to really apply it in service some way.

I think the way that this industry has really lost its heart is because of the ego gratification and the desire for success and wealth and fame being the most important drive in our psyche, if you like.

To me, service is the most important element.

That keeps you in a place of really deep gratitude and satisfaction.

It’s wonderful to be able to offer your services in this way. I feel like one of the luckiest people on the planet being able to do what I do, make an incredible living and make people happy for a living.


 

References

The Most Amazing Interview with Roger Hodgson Part 1

The Most Amazing Interview with Roger Hodgson Part 2

With Supertramp
 

  • 1970 - Supertramp - Supertramp was not released in the United States until late 1977, but available through importers and was usually carried in record stores that specialised in British imports. The 1977 issue reached No. 158 on the US Billboard 200
  • 1971  - Indelibly Stamped - Like their debut, this album was a commercial failure upon release, but in later decades it went gold in France and Canada. Original editions have a colour gate-fold cover and different text for the band name and album title. The cover photograph features the tattooed torso and arms of a topless woman, in the U.S.; the cover was in colour, but A&M pasted two gold stars over the nipples. From their second album Indelibly Stamped forward, Hodgson and Davies wrote separately with each singing lead vocals on their own compositions.
  • 1974 - Crime of the Century - Crime of the Century, released in 1974, was the first of their albums to feature the line-up of Hodgson, Davies and new members Bob Siebenberg (drums), Dougie Thomson (bass) and John Helliwell (saxophone, clarinet, keyboards, backing vocals). This line-up would remain unchanged for the remainder of Hodgson's tenure in the group. Hodgson's song "Dreamer" became the band's first hit and drove the album to the tops of the charts.
  • 1975  - Crisis? What Crisis? - The follow-up Crisis? What Crisis?, was their first album to be recorded in the USA. The album charted on both the UK Top Twenty and the US Top Fifty.  
  • 1977 - Even in the Quietest Moments - By 1977, the band had permanently relocated to the USA. Hodgson's opening song on the album, "Give a Little Bit", became an international hit single (number 15 US, number 29 UK, number 8 in Canada) and was written by Hodgson at 19 or 20 years of age; he introduced it to the band for recording five to six years later. Diana, Princess of Wales loved the song, and Hodgson performed it in her honour at the 2007 Concert for Diana at Wembley Stadium.  Thirty-five years after writing “Give a Little Bit,” Roger received an award for the song being one of the most performed songs in the ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) repertory.   Roger has donated his time and signature song “Give a Little Bit” to help raise funds for Tsunami Relief, Red Cross, UNICEF, World Vision, Hurricane Katrina efforts plus other causes.
  • 1979 - Breakfast in America - won two Grammy Awards in 1980, and holds an RIAA certification of quadruple platinum. It became Supertramp's biggest-selling album, with more than 4 million copies sold in the US alone, and was No. 1 on Billboard Pop Albums Chart for six weeks, until 30 June 1979. The album also hit No. 1 in Norway, Austria, Canada, Australia and France; in France it is one of the five biggest-selling albums of all time
  • 1980 - The live album Paris was released in 1980
  • 1982 - Famous Last Words - . included Hodgson's compositions "It's Raining Again", "Don't Leave Me Now", "C'est le Bon", "Know Who You Are" and "Crazy".

As a solo artist

  • 1984 -In the Eye of the Storm - would prove to be Hodgson's biggest success without the group. The album became an international hit, selling over two million copies. The single "Had a Dream (Sleeping With the Enemy)" peaked at number 48 on Billboard's Hot 100 charts and number 11 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, and the follow-up single "In Jeopardy" peaked at number 30.
  • 1987  - Hai Hai - Hodgson’s second solo album was recorded during a 16-month period with seasoned Los Angeles session musicians; the album did not match Hodgson’s expectations. The demanding perfectionist, according to his web site, “felt the album lacked focus and failed to express what he wanted as an artist.” One week after Hai Hai was released Hodgson broke his wrists in an accident.
  • 1997 - Rites of Passage - Hodgson launched into his first tour in over ten years, and released 1997's Rites of Passage to document the tour. The live album was recorded at the Miners Foundry in Nevada City, California. He performed with a full band that included his son Andrew and Supertramp sax player John Helliwell. The album did not chart in the UK or the US, though it did reach number 34 in Germany.
  • 2000  - Open the Door - Hodgson's fourth solo effort, Open the Door, continued in the vein of his previous work. He collaborated with Alan Simon on the album. AllMusic stated of the album: “Fans will be delighted to hear Hodgson returning to the craft of writing high-quality songs” ....
  • 2006  - Take the Long Way Home - DVD - On 30 November 2005, Roger held his first concert in England for over twenty years, at Shepherd's Bush, London. While the performance was filmed and scheduled for a DVD release, the plan was scrapped. Instead, the concert recorded at the Place Des Arts in Montreal, Canada on 6 June 2006 was his first DVD, released on 22 August 2006, entitled Take the Long Way Home—Live in Montreal. In October 2006, the DVD was certified multi-platinum by the CRIA (Canadian Recording Industry Association).
  • 2010  - Classics Live - Hodgson toured the US, Australia, New Zealand, South America, Europe, and Canada in 2010.  Classics Live is a collection of recordings taken from solo, band, and orchestra shows from this 2010 world tour.

Other notable work


  • 1990 -  Hodgson was approached by Yes to join them as lead vocalist, but he declined the offer. One of the songs he co-wrote with Trevor Rabin, "Walls", appears on Yes's 1994 Talk album, with lyrics revised by Jon Anderson. A version of "Walls" with only Hodgson and Rabin on vocals was released on Rabin's 2003 archival release 90124.
  • 1999 - Hodgson played King Arthur in the rock opera Excalibur: La Legende Des Celtes, and appeared on the album for two songs: "The Elements", and "The Will of God". The project was headed by Alan Simon and released in 1999.
  • 2000 - Hodgson contributed vocals on a track titled "The Moon Says Hello" by Carlos Núñez, on the CD Mayo Longo.

 

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