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Supertramp, 1980. L-R: Dougie Thomson, Rick Davies, Roger Hodgson, John Helliwell and Bob Siebenberg (hidden).
Background information
Also known as Daddy (1969–1970)
Origin United Kingdom
Genres Rock, pop rock, progressive rock
Years active 1969–1988, 1996–2002
Labels A&M, Silver Cab, EMI, BMG
Associated acts Argosy, Crème Anglaise, David Gilmour
Former members
See: Supertramp member history

Supertramp were a British progressive rock band that released a series of top-selling albums in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Their early music included ambitious concept albums, from which were drawn a number of hits including "Goodbye Stranger", "Bloody Well Right", "The Logical Song", "Breakfast in America", "Dreamer", "Give a Little Bit", "It's Raining Again", and "Take the Long Way Home". Supertramp attained superstardom in the United States, Canada, most of Europe, South Africa, Australia and Brazil, although they were not quite as popular in the UK. Nonetheless, the album Breakfast in America was a big hit there, reaching number three on the UK charts and featuring two top 10 singles.




In 1969, Roger Hodgson, who had already signed to a label and was recording, joined forces with Rick Davies in the formation of Supertramp. Other members of this proto-Supertramp included Richard Palmer (guitar, balalaika, vocals) and Robert Millar (percussion, harmonica). Initially, Roger Hodgson sang and played bass guitar (and, on the side, guitar, cello and flageolet). The band was called Daddy from August 1969 to January 1970. This was changed to Supertramp, a name taken from Welsh writer W. H. Davies' book, The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp, published in 1908.

They were one of the first groups to be signed to the UK branch of A&M Records. The first album, Supertramp, was released on 14 July, 1970 in the UK and Canada only (it was first issued in the US in 1977). Hodgson and Davies composed the songs while Palmer wrote the lyrics. Although it was very intense and lyrical, it did not attract a large audience and few critics paid it any attention. Dave Winthrop (flute and saxophone) joined the group after the release of the first record and Supertramp was able to earn a slot on the bill of the Isle of Wight Festival 1970. Richard Palmer abruptly left six months after the album's release. Robert Millar suffered a nervous breakdown shortly afterward.

For the next album, Indelibly Stamped, released in June 1971 (in both UK and US), Frank Farrell (bass) and Kevin Currie (percussion) replaced Millar and Palmer, while Roger Hodgson switched to guitar. From this album forward, Hodgson and Davies each wrote and composed separately, no longer using a lyricist. The person who sang the song was the one who wrote and composed it. Indelibly Stamped featured rocking Beatlesque tunes, with vocal harmonies similar to Simon & Garfunkel songs (Davies now serving as the band's second lead singer, alongside Hodgson, who suggested that the band should have two lead vocalists), a more commercial approach and eye-catching cover artwork. Supertramp had established themselves as a "cult" band. Sales, however, failed to improve and sold even less than their debut. All members gradually quit except Hodgson and Davies.

These first two albums were later reissued during Supertramp's popularity peak and have maintained an appeal with die-hard fans. The first album is melancholic and quieter and the songs are spread out more than they were later on. Hodgson once called it his favourite Supertramp album (though later he favoured Crisis What Crisis?). The second album is their most traditionally rock album and certainly their heaviest sound.

Initial success and commercial breakthrough

In late 1972, after being persuaded to carry on, Davies and Hodgson went on an extensive search for replacements, which first brought aboard Dougie Thomson (bass), who played with the band almost a year before auditions resumed to complete the line-up. In 1973, auditions restarted and brought in Bob Siebenberg (drums) and John Helliwell (saxophone, other woodwinds, occasional keyboards, backing vocals), completing the line-up that would create the group's defining albums. Hodgson would also begin playing keyboards in the band in addition to guitar, usually acoustic and electric pianos on his own compositions. The classic Supertramp keyboard is a Wurlitzer electric piano (model 200A) with its unmistakable bright sound and biting distortion when played hard. The years 1972 - 1983 are known as "The Golden Years" to fans.

A lost single, "Land Ho" was the first recording by the reformed Supertramp. It was not included on "Crime of the Century" and has never been reissued in its original form, though it has been released in other forms. Roger Hodgson resurrected the song during his solo career in 1987, for his 2nd solo Album Hai Hai, and the song was included in a later Supertramp album - Retrospectacle - The Supertramp Anthology.

Crime of the Century, released in September 1974, began the group's run of critical and commercial successes, hitting number four in Britain, supported by the iconic countercultural opening track "School", and the top-10 single "Dreamer". Its B-side "Bloody Well Right" hit the US Top 40 in May 1975, peaking at #35. Siebenberg would later comment that he thought the band hit its artistic peak on this, their third album, though their greatest commercial success would come later. It is interesting to note that Hodgson wrote and composed both "School" and "Dreamer" while he was in his teens, before he even met Davies and co-founded Supertramp.

The band continued with Crisis? What Crisis? released in November 1975. It achieved good though not overwhelming commercial success. The following album, Even in the Quietest Moments, released in April 1977 spawned their hit single with Hodgson's "Give a Little Bit" (#15 U.S.), and the FM radio staple Fool's Overture, also by Hodgson. During this period, the band eventually relocated to the United States and moved steadily from the progressive styles of their early albums towards a more song-oriented pop sound.

This trend reached their zenith on their most popular album, Breakfast in America in March 1979, which reached Number 3 in the UK and Number 1 in the United States and spawned four successful singles, Hodgson's "The Logical Song" (#6 U.S.), "Take the Long Way Home" (#10 U.S.), and "Breakfast in America" and Davies' "Goodbye Stranger" (#15 U.S). The album has since sold over 20 million copies worldwide.

The run of successes was capped with 1980s Paris, a 2-LP live album, in which the band stated their goal of improving on the studio versions of their songs. Instead of focusing on songs from the hugely successful Breakfast in America, it included nearly every song from Crime of the Century, another testament to the importance of that album in the group's development. Initially, it was supposed to be a show recorded in Quebec City, Canada, but A&M vetoed the idea for a "more mainstream city". Also in 1980, the song "Dreamer" was finally released as a single in the U.S., where it reached #15.

Later career

In 1983, Hodgson left the band after the tour for their next album, ...Famous Last Words... (1982) which contained Hodgson's Top 20 hit "It's Raining Again" and the Top 40 hit "My Kind of Lady". There was much speculation behind the reasons why Roger Hodgson left Supertramp. In an interview in the 90's Hodgson stated that the reason he left the band was to spend time with his two small children. He moved his family from the Los Angeles area to the mountains of northern California where he built a home and studio. He focused on his family and spiritual life. Hodgson has stated that there were never any real personal or professional problems between him and Rick Davies as some people thought.

In time, Hodgson began a solo career, his biggest hit "Had a Dream (Sleeping With the Enemy)" coming from his first solo album In the Eye of the Storm, in 1984.

The Davies-led Supertramp soldiered on, releasing Brother Where You Bound the same year. This included a Top 30 hit single, "Cannonball", along with the title track, a 16-minute exposition on Cold War themes highlighted by guitar solos from Pink Floyd's David Gilmour. The album reached #21 on the US charts. 1987's Free as a Bird included more straightforward Davies rockers, including "I'm Beggin' You", which reached Number 1 on the US dance charts, a curious accomplishment for an "art rock" band.

After 1988's tour, Thomson left the band over a disagreement with Davies about the use of Hodgson-penned songs during live performances. One of the conditions of allowing Davies to continue with the name Supertramp was that no Hodgson songs would be performed. It was a gentlemen's agreement between Hodgson and Davies that Davies would keep the Supertramp name and Hodgson would keep his songs, with them no longer being performed by the Davies-led Supertramp. This agreement was broken by Davies and Hodgson was dismayed to attend a concert and find that the band was performing his songs such as "Take the Long Way Home" and "The Logical Song". These songs were usually sung by Crowded House's Mark Hart (Hodgson's apparent replacement on stage), and the Scottish bass player was against this move. When Supertramp reunited in 1996, Thomson declined an invitation to return and eventually quit playing for good.

In 1996, Davies re-formed Supertramp with former members Helliwell, Siebenberg and Hart, plus several new musicians. The result was Some Things Never Change, a polished effort which echoed the earlier Supertramp sound. This was released in March 1997. Ironically, that same year saw the release of Rites of Passage, Roger Hodgson's first solo album since Hai Hai in 1987. Rites of Passage was a live album featuring both new works from Hodgson as well as three of his songs that he recorded with Supertramp songs ("Take the Long Way Home", "The Logical Song" and "Give a Little Bit").

In an ironic reversal two years later, the re-formed Supertramp released a live album, It Was the Best of Times while Hodgson released a studio album. Open the Door. Another live album, Is Everybody Listening?, a recording of Supertramp at the Royal Albert Hall in 1975, was released in 2001.

Early 2002 saw the release of another album by Davies and Supertramp, Slow Motion (sold direct in North America). Another attempt to reunite the band, including Hodgson, fell apart in 2005.

Rick Davies has since left California and resides in Long Island (East Hampton).

In the past few years, Roger Hodgson has donated his song "Give a Little Bit" to raise funds for tsunami relief efforts and other causes. It's been used by the Red Cross, United Way, the Make a Wish Foundation, and The Oprah Winfrey show requested the use of "Give a Little Bit" as part of their ”Gift of Giving Back Program“. In the UK it was used during the "ITV Telethon".

2006 was a busy year for Roger Hodgson. Throughout the summer of 2006, he toured Europe (France, Belgium, Portugal, Denmark, Switzerland, and Germany), as well as the US (St. Paul, MN) and Canada (fall 2006) and his DVD "Take the Long Way Home – Live in Montreal" went platinum and to the #1 spot in Canada in its first 7 weeks of release. He was also asked to mentor Canadian Idol’s Top 7 contestants, alongside Dennis DeYoung (a founding member of Styx). In March 2006, Roger Hodgson was honoured for his song "Give a Little Bit" at the 23rd Annual ASCAP awards in Los Angeles. The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers gave the award in acknowledgment of the song being one of the 50 most played songs of 2005.

Accepting an invitation from Princes William and Harry, Roger Hodgson appeared solo at the Diana Memorial Concert at Wembley Stadium on 1 July 2007. The band were one of the late Princess of Wales' favourites. It was a glorious event when the princes and the crowd began singing along with Roger to his song "Give a Little Bit".

In 2008, Supertramp's music was set to be featured in the film adaptation of Irvine Welsh's best-selling novel Ecstasy: Three Tales of Chemical Romance.

In 2009 Hodgson admitted he cannot see a Supertramp reunion ever happening, but "never say never." He told, "We've looked at it and talked it over, many times...I would never say never but Rick [Davies] has pretty much retired right now and I'm in the prime of my life. The reaction I am getting from fans is 'please don't reunite.' I think a lot of the magic and spirit that people think they would see at a Supertramp reunion, they are actually getting at my shows now. I feel the reunion I am having is with my audience and it feels really good." [1] Hodgson will embark on a worldwide 2010 tour which will take him to Australia, New Zealand, South America, Europe, Scandinavia, Canada, and the United States.


  • Rick Davies – vocals, keyboards, harmonica, composition (1969–1988, 1996–2002)
  • Roger Hodgson – vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass, cello, flute, composition (1969–1983)
  • John Helliwell – vocals, woodwinds, keyboards, synthesizers (1973–1988, 1996–2002)
  • Bob Siebenberg – drums, percussion (1973–1988, 1996–2002)
  • Dougie Thomson – bass, backing vocals (1972–1988)
  • Richard Palmer-James – vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, balalaika (1969–1972)
  • Robert Millar – percussion, harmonica (1969–1971)
  • Dave Winthrop – woodwinds, vocals (1970–1973)
  • Frank Farrell – bass, keyboards, backing vocals (1971–1972)
  • Kevin Currie – percussion (1971–1973)
  • Mark Hart – vocals, keyboards, guitar (1985–1988, 1996–2002)
  • Carl Verheyen – guitars, percussion, backing vocals (1985–1986, 1996–2002)
  • Cliff Hugo – bass (1996–2002)
  • Lee Thornburg – trombone, trumpet, backing vocals (1996–2002)
  • Jesse Siebenberg – percussion, vocals, guitar (1996–2002)
  • Tom Walsh – percussion (1996–1997)

Touring members

  • Scott Page – woodwinds, guitar, percussion, backing vocals (1983–1986)
  • Fred Mandel – keyboards, guitar, backing vocals (1983)
  • Marty Walsh – guitars, backing vocals (1984–1988)
  • Steve Reid – percussion (1987–1988)
  • Brad Cole – woodwinds, keyboards (1986–1988)


Remixes and cover versions

In 2001, the German power metal band At Vance covered "The Logical Song" on their album Heart Of Steel. Scooter used parts of "The Logical Song" in their single "Ramp! (The Logical Song)". In 2007 Gym Class Heroes used parts of "Breakfast in America" in their single "Cupid's Chokehold". In 2005 The Goo Goo Dolls covered "Give a Little Bit" on their Let Love In album. And in the season 4 finale of The Office, Steve Carell's character sings a parody of "Goodbye Stranger" during Toby's going away party titled "Goodbye Toby". "Good-bye Stranger" and "The Logical Song" are used in 1999 film "Magnolia", by director Paul Thomas Anderson.


External links

Simple English

Supertramp is a British rock group. They were created and managed by a Dutch millionare and were very popular in the 1970s. The members of Supertramp included Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson, who wrote most of the songs. The band's best-known songs include "Dreamer", "Give a Little Bit", "The Logical Song", "Take the Long Way Home", and "It's Raining Again".

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