Bad Company is an English hard rock supergroup founded in 1973, consisting of band members from Free (Paul Rodgers, Simon Kirke), Mott the Hoople (Mick Ralphs), and King Crimson (Boz Burrell). Peter Grant, who in years prior was a key component of fellow British rock band Led Zeppelin's rise to fame, managed the band.
The band signed to Swan Song Records/Atlantic Records in North America, and with Island Records in other countries. Atlantic/Warner Music would later acquire the non-North American rights to the band's catalogue.
The 1974 debut album “Bad Company” was an international hit, with the group considered one of the 1970s' first supergroups. The album peaked at #1 on Billboard's 200 Albums chart and included two singles that reached the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100, “Can't Get Enough” at #5 and “Movin' On” at #19.
In 1975, “Straight Shooter,” gave the group another #1 on Billboard's 200 Albums chart. The album also spawned two hit singles, “Good Lovin' Gone Bad” at #36 and the slower “Feel Like Makin' Love” at #10.
Bad Company's 1976 album “Run With the Pack” was their first platinum certified album. It was their third consecutive million-selling record, reaching #5 on the Billboard 200 and featured the hit “Young Blood” which peaked at #20 on the Hot 100.
1977's “Burnin' Sky” fared the poorest of the first four that charted: the album's title song, “Burnin' Sky,” only reached #78 on the Hot 100. 1979's “Desolation Angels” fared better than its predecessor and gave the band their first Top 5, platinum selling album since 1976's album “Run With the Pack.” “Desolation Angels” embellished the group's sound with synthesisers and strings and reached #3 on the Billboard 200 and again had two charting singles, “Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy” at #13 and “Gone Gone Gone” at #56.
A three-year hiatus from the studio ended with the release of “Rough Diamonds” in 1982. This would be the sixth and final LP in the group's original incarnation until four new songs were recorded in 1998. The album was the worst selling Bad Company album of those that had Paul Rodgers as the front man. The album peaked at #26 and featured “Electricland” which reached #2 on the then newly created Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
After the release of “Rough Diamonds,” they disbanded. Despite being famous for their live shows packing the largest stadiums for almost a decade, Bad Company did not release an official live album of performances from this time period until the 2006 album “Live in Albuquerque 1976.” The recordings were made by Mick Ralphs, who regularly taped the group's shows, utilizing them as a tool to finely tune their set and performances.
In 1986 Mick Ralphs and Simon Kirke decided to reteam for a new project. Their label, Atlantic Records, however, insisted they resume the Bad Company name. But Paul Rodgers was already engaged with a new supergroup called The Firm. So the remaining two members hired ex-Ted Nugent vocalist Brian Howe as the new lead singer, Steve Price as the new bass player and Greg Dechert (ex-Uriah Heep) on keyboards. Howe's vocal style brought more of a pop-rock sound to the band, as opposed to Rodgers' more bluesy style.
The newly formed band hired Foreigner producer Keith Olsen to produce the new lineup's initial album, 1986's “Fame and Fortune.” Reflecting the musical style of the mid-80s, the album was laden with keyboards, unlike previous Bad Company albums, and was only modestly commercially successful, failing to break the Top 100. The single, “This Love,” managed to reach #85 on the Hot 100, but was not the success the band hoped for.
Burrell agreed to rejoin the band and was name checked on the 1986 “Fame and Fortune” album, even though he did not play on it. But just before the supporting tour, he left once again. Price then returned. In 1987, Dechert was dropped from the lineup as the group decided not to play up the keyboards in their sound as much.
For the next Howe-era album, 1988's “Dangerous Age,” the band replaced Olsen with producer Terry Thomas, who got rid of most of the keyboards and returned the band to a guitar-driven sound. Thomas also added small amounts of keyboards as well as rhythm guitars and backing vocals and wrote most of the songs with the band. “Dangerous Age” fared better than its predecessor, spawning the hits “No Smoke Without A Fire,” “One Night” and “Shake It Up.” The album went gold and hit the Top 60.
The band's next album, “Holy Water” released in 1990, also produced by Thomas, was enormously successful both critically and commercially, attaining Top 40 and platinum status. “Holy Water” was the band's first album on the Atlantic subsidiary Atco Records. The album spun off the singles, “If You Needed Somebody,” the title track “Holy Water” and “Walk Through Fire”.
The final studio album of the Howe era, 1992's “Here Comes Trouble,” featured the Top 40 hit “How About That” and “This Could Be The One.” The album went gold. Before touring in support of “Here Comes Trouble,” the band added ex-Foreigner, Roxy Music and Small Faces bassist Rick Wills and Colwell, a protégé of Ralphs, was now a full-time member. The band recorded a live album, What You Hear Is What You Get: The Best of Bad Company” on the “Here Comes Trouble” tour. The album, released in November 1993, featured live versions of hits from both the Rodgers and Howe eras of the band, but sold poorly.
Howe left the band in 1994. After Howe's departure, the remaining foursome hired ex-Distance vocalist Robert Hart to take over lead vocal duties. Unlike Howe (who had a different style and a higher range), Hart was closer in voice and an imitator of Rodgers. The new lineup released “Company of Strangers” in 1995 which came out on EastWest Records and peaked at #159 on the Billboard 200. It produced the hit “Down And Dirty.”
“Stories Told & Untold” was released in 1996 and bombed commercially. The album contained re-recordings of seven of Bad Company's biggest hits, and seven new songs. Many of these were recorded in Nashville and featured guest appearances by country stars such as Vince Gill.
In 1998, Rodgers and Kirke were discussing release of an extensive compilation album. Rodgers decided the album should include four new songs. He finally reunited with the other three original members in the studio to record these four new tracks. The reunion was short, but it produced a hit with “Hey Hey.”
The reunited original foursome toured in the summer of '99 for 30 dates in the U.S. The shows drew well. The following year, Ralphs announced he was retiring from live performing and Burrell left again as well bringing the reunion to an end.
Paul Rodgers again rejoined Kirke in 2001 for a tour. The band secured some dates on the West Coast of the U.S. to record a new live album and DVD “Merchants of Cool,” which featured the song “Joe Fabulous,” which hit #1 on radio and the Top 20 on the Mainstream Rock chart. After the 2002 tour, Bad Company went inactive once again as Rodgers returned to his solo career.
Boz Burrell died of a heart attack in September 2006, age 60, at his home in Spain. In July 2008, it was announced that the original remaining line-up of Bad Company would do a one-off gig at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, in August 2008. The live performance was released on Blu-Ray, DVD, and CD in February 2010 and the tracks include 17 Bad Company hits. Rodgers dedicated “Gone, Gone, Gone” to original bassist Boz Burrell.
In March 2011 a live release, “Extended Versions” was issued, taken from the band's UK tour in 2010. The album debuted at #139 on the Billboard 200 and featured 10 selections, and climbed as high as #84 on the chart. This was the first Bad Company album to chart in 12 years.