MICK RALPHS : INTERVIEW Pt.2

Donrad: What about the Freddie King song "Hideaway" you did on the new record?

Mick: Yeah, well I like all the Kings... Albert,Freddie, B.B.

Donrad: I saw Bad Company this summer and they did a John Lee Hooker song and dedicated it to him as he had recently passed away.

Mick: Oh really? That's nice. Paul's a big blues fan. A chap I just spoke to was saying he realized that there were a lot of influences there in the original Bad Company. We were all R&B and blues fans, all four of us. Paul was Otis Reddings band and Simon and I were Booker T. and the MG's. I wanted to be Steve Cropper and Simon wanted to be Al Jackson.

Donrad: So you liked the Stax stuff too?

Mick: Oh yeah. Definitely. Our rehearsals were a joke really, because we'd never play Bad Company songs, we'd always do Stax songs. Sam & Dave stuff and Wilson Pickett. People would come in and expect us to be playing "Can't Get Enough" and we'd be playing "Knock On Wood." We were terrible at rehearsing really, because we'd always want to do all that sort of music.

Donrad: You played some of that stuff on the "RunWith The Pack" album.

Mick: Yeah! We loved all that sort of stuff and still do.

Donrad: In the old days before Mott The Hoople, you were in a band called the Buddies. Overend Watts supposedly took ill and was replaced by a guy named Dave Mason, is this true?

Mick: Well, Dave Mason was in a rival band in a nearby town.

Donrad: Was that the same Dave Mason who started Traffic?

Mick: Yes. Then he was later in a version of Fleetwood Mac. That's the last time I saw him actually (a crazy squawking sound is heard in the background at this point).

Donrad: Is that a bird in the background?

Mick: It's a parrot. A noisy parrot I'm afraid.

Donrad: Cool. I was going to ask if you had any pets.

Mick: Oh Yeah. There's a German shepherd lying on the floor here, there's a talking parrot over there talking away and we've got dogs outside and another dog somewhere else. It's kind of nice having them around, they're good people. The parrot's so funny. He imitates me and I don't even realize he's doing it. I'm walking around the house talking to myself and whistling and the next day he's said something I've said... it's scary you know? Like what the hell is that? He'll probably start whistling in a minute. He whistles a lot 'cause I walk around the house whistling and he just picks it up, it's funny.

Donrad: In the 70's there was a rift or a fight between Mott The Hoople and Led Zeppelin. Were you in Mott at the time and do you recall the incident and what it was about?

Mick: I'd already gone by then. It was at the Broadway show wasn't it? When John Bonham insisted on playing drums or something and they didn't want it. That wouldn't have happened if I was there because I would have said "fine, come ahead." I read about that somewhere. He was quite hard to handle John was, but he had a heart of gold really.

Donrad: Did you know John Bonham?

Mick: Oh yeah. I knew al lof them (the members of Led Zeppelin). We were on the road together with the same management.

Donrad: What was it like dealing with (Led Zeppelin and Bad Company manager) Peter Grant?

Mick: He was great. He was great because he was on our side (laughs). He was a good manager. He was Zeppelin's man, but he looked after us equally as well you know?

Now we always felt we were like the number two band, I mean obviously they were the big stars of the time when we came on the scene. But we were on their label (Swansong) and it helped us an awful lot. I honestly think without him, we wouldn't have achieved what we'd achieved. He managed to put us in the right places and help us in that way.

Donrad: He had a lot of connections.

Mick: Yes he did. He was a great manager. He was definitely unique. A lot of people aspire to be like he was. He was quite an astute manager in his way.

Donrad: What was the first concert you ever saw?

Mick: That I've ever seen?

Donrad: Yes.

Mick: Well the first concert I can remember seeing was the Rolling Stones in Italy in about 1967, when Brian Jones was in the band and he had gold paint all over his face. People were like screaming. We were in a little band in Italy touring and went to see this band the Rolling Stones, who we obviously knew from England, but now they were big stars you know? They were just awesome. Brian Jones looked like someone from another planet with the gold face, the Gibson Firebird guitar and shades on. It was freaky kind of- like they were "out there" somewhere. There again I thought he (Brian Jones) was a very important memberof the band, a bit like Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd, he was a key member.

Donrad: He started the Rolling Stones didn't he?

Mick: Yes he did. He was the R&B kid.

Donrad: Plus he could play any instrument you put in front of him.

Mick: Yeah. Guitar, harp and he had a great knowledge of the blues. I think there was a bitter rivalry there.

Donrad: Yeah, with Mick and Keith.

Mick: Yeah.

Donrad: How would you compare your first U.S. tour with Mott The Hoople as to your first U.S. tour with Bad Company?

Mick: The first tour of the U.S. with Mott The Hoople was more like a group of students coming to visit america whereas when we came as Bad Company we were definitely on show. It was like suddenly the bar bands played in big bars. It was a different level all together. It was just as exciting in both ways because the first time in America with Mott was like "WOW... America!" It was a real eye opener because obviously you know you have all these illusions as you probably do of England and you arrive in Newark, New Jersey and you're totally disappointed because there's no cowboys, it's raining and it's shitty. Then you think "this isn't like what I thought it was going to be." Then you get to realize that's just a tiny little bit and it's huge. The times I've been there (the United States) it doesn't get any smaller.

Donrad: Depends on what part of the country you're in. The east is different from the west.

Mick: It's a different world. I mean I love it. A lot of people who live in America haven't travelled probably as much as I have. It's like the same land mass but it's almost like different continents as far as climate and culture. You've got the midwest, the mountain and desert areas, you've got the west coast, you've got the east coast, got the southern part and the north... it's great.

Donrad: Do you have a favourite city?

Mick: Lots of them. I couldn't really say one because there's so many great places. I do like Chicago because it's like New York without the stress. It's like compacted, it's all there but it's not overwhelming. I didn't like Los Angeles very much but I like San Francisco.

Donrad: San Francisco's a great town.

Mick: It's got a great character. Seattle has character... that's a cool place. Santa Fe is a great place which people don't get there often, but it's like a unique place.

Donrad: How did you like Detroit?

Mick: Next... (laughs). Listen, there's a great gig there, the fans are great but I wouldn't want to live there. The thing about you Americans I've figured out, is youmove in the course of your life about six or seven times in different parts of america which is great.  English people are so boring, they tend to stay where they were born and never go anywhere... 'cause England isn't that big anyway. It's amazing to find that somebody was born in, say Detroit, then they end up in Florida and they've been via California and Wisconsin or somewhere. Those places are so different, it would be hard to find anywhere quite as extreme as lets say Dallas, Texas as opposed to Portland, Maine. There's such a difference isn't there. All these different cultures. That's what I find so great about it. Plus the places sound great, so you can write songs about them. You can't in England. You can't get excited about about places like Wigan and Cleethorpes, likeyou can about Chattanooga and Des Moines you know? All these wild names you have, they're great.

Donrad: What don't people know about you that you wished they did?

Mick: That I'm alright really (laughs).

Donrad: That you're a regular guy?

Mick: Yeah. I'm just a working musician. When we were really doing well in Bad Company, people would ask "what's it like to be a star?" I would say "what do you mean, what is a star?" I just got lucky. I'm a guitar player that happened to be with the right people and suddenly "poof," you know? You're just lucky to be in that situation. At the end of the day you're just a guitar player that caught a lucky break.

Donrad: Do you still get residual checks?

Mick: Yeah! Thank god, it pays the rent.

Donrad: Bad Company still get a lot of airplay over here.

Mick: I know. It's amazing. It actually is quite amazing to me. Songs like "Can't Get Enough" and "Feel Like Makin' Love," I still get ASCAP royalties. It's very heart warming to think that people in America still like that kind of music- and they do! It's on the radio all the time. It's what they call "classic rock" now. Which is fantastic really, because it gives credence to what you do, so hopefully it mightencourage people to listen to what Paul's doing or what I'm doing as a spin-off. Not that what I'm doing is supposed to be taken that seriously- it's a bit of fun- but it might show people that I can do that other stuff as well.

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