Roger Earl of Foghat : Modern Drummer
Photo by Robert Alford

Hello, fellow noise-makers! Well, we’ve just finished a new album that’s particularly close to my heart, Last Train Home. We had a couple of extra musos giving us a helping hand on this one. My older brother Colin is playing piano, and we don’t always get a lot of time to hang and play together, so this was really cool. Colin played on the first Foghat album in 1971, and on Chuck Berry’s “Maybelline.” He was on fire on that one, and he hasn’t lost any of his enthusiasm. A bit like me, must be in the blood. We always get to do some fishing and golfing when we can, but I should save those stories for Field & Stream and Golf Digest! But the striped bass are running in the L.I. Sound, so I’m looking forward to going home to New York.

My good friend Lefty “Sugar Lips” Lefkowitz (another L.I. lad) is playing harp on this album. He’s a great player and has jammed with us over the years. (Lefty doesn’t fish.) Jeff Howell is playing bass on this CD, as Craig “Mac” MacGregor had managing commitments with his son Collin’s band Comic Book Heroes (Collin plays drums), who by the way are sounding real good. Jeff teaches bass and has previously played in Foghat, as well as in Savoy Brown and the Outlaws. So he’s got good credentials. Jeff brought some great grooves to the tunes. (Jeff doesn’t fish either.)

One of the highlights of recording this album was that I got to reconnect with Eddie “Blues Man” Kirkland, who backed us at the New York Palladium in 1977 at Foghat’s Tribute To The Blues concert. Eddie is eighty-six years young, and just after returning to Macon, Georgia, following a tour in Europe (he’s very popular over there), he put a new alternator and rear brake shoes on his car, drove down to our studio in Deland, Florida, and cut six jams. Yeah, Eddie’s a real force to be reckoned with—great stories, great guitar, great voice. Unfortunately we could only use two songs that he’s on, as we were running out at space on the CD. Maybe more for later. (I think Eddie fishes.)

I haven’t talked about this publicly before now, but on Halloween 2008, about a half hour before we were to perform at a casino in Ponca City, Oklahoma, I went onstage to check the drums and monitors and look around, and as I got up to leave the drum riser, I turned right and stepped down onto what I thought was the stage. NO STAGE. Fell and broke my clavicle (collarbone) and my back (crushed two of the vertebrae). So I’m lying on the floor with my spine feeling like it’s on fire, thinking, “This is not good.” After a few moments the real horror of it hits—I can’t feel my feet or my right hand. I could see my right shoulder wasn’t looking like it should. Then I was able to move my toes a little. Big relief. The medics got there pretty quick, put me on a board, got my neck stable. Put lots of stuff in me to stop the pain and get me stable. Three days in the hospital in Oklahoma, then back to New York for treatment. The surgeons did a great job putting me back together. I had this really cool piece of titanium holding my clavicle together and kyphoplasty in my spine so I could sit, stand, walk, and play again. It was pretty scary.

Anyway, the real reason I want to share this with you is the positivity that came out of this potential nightmare. It’s not a good feeling thinking you won’t be able to do what you love! So I was on a mission to recover much quicker than the docs said I would—playing at my practice pad for hours every day, holding a stick in my left hand and playing with some of the greats—one-handed of course—on the Carmine Appice–hosted Classic Rock Drum Solos. What a great DVD! So here I am, all doped up with just my left hand and my feet working, watching the DVD and playing along with some all-time great players and solos. (Thanks, Carmine!) Then there was the Buddy Rich & Gene Krupa CD Jazz At The Philharmonic. (I actually had this record when I was twelve.) So the story is…“When I was stone blue, rock ’n’ roll sure helped me through.” Music is a great healer, and I was back behind the kit three and a half months later. It feels great!

I also just finished an album with Derek St. Holmes, Daniel Wentworth, and Pete Bankert in Detroit. This should be out some time this year. I think it’s a great record. Maybe we can open for Foghat. Ha! I love my work!

To me it’s always been about the music. I’ve always played with great bass players—Craig MacGregor, Nick Jameson—they could play drums too, simpatico. I could go on. Maybe MD will ask me to write again for you noisy sods. That would be fine because I have lots of tales from the road. Special thanks to MD, DW drums, Paiste cymbals, and Pro-Mark sticks. Keep on rockin’!

For more on Roger Earl and Foghat, go to www.foghat.net