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Paul Rodgers

British rocker can't get enough of his 'common sense' truck Add to ...

Paul Rodgers

Profession: Singer-songwriter

Age: 61

Hometown: Middlesbrough, England

Notable achievements

Platinum-selling singer, songwriter; written, recorded, produced and released 30 albums since 1968; has sold more than 90 million records worldwide

Formed and led three bands to worldwide success: Free, Bad Company and The Firm

Upcoming

Canadian Tour with Randy Bachman and Fred Turner this fall; appearing at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre in Toronto Sept. 10.

Paul Rodgers & Friends' Live At Montreux from 1994 to be released Sept. 13 on CD and DVD.

Patron of The Racehorse Sanctuary and Re-homing Centre – Rocking Horse Children’s Centre, a U.K.-based organization that rescues horses internationally and allows autistic children and inner city kids to visit/ride them – proceeds from an upcoming benefit concert in the U.K. in November will go to the centre

*****

Rolling Stone ranked him one of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time” thanks to hits such as All Right Now, Feel Like Making Love, Shooting Star and Can’t Get Enough.

Platinum-selling singer-songwriter Paul Rodgers led three bands to international fame – Free, Bad Company and The Firm. And after more than four decades, the rock legend is still going strong. His concert schedule is jam-packed, including a Canadian tour this fall with Randy Bachman and Fred Turner.

But when he’s back in British Columbia, it’s not glitz and glamour on the road. He drives a 2011 Toyota Tacoma SR5 TRD Sport pickup truck.

Why did you buy a truck?

Because I live in the Okanagan and I was driving a Lexus for a number of years and the leather seats were a little inappropriate for throwing things in the back with the dog.

We have a few acres and every now and again I have to take a run to the dump or I’ve got to pick up some trees. And it dawned on me – I need a truck.

So I went out and got myself a practical truck. I love it. It’s got a fantastic turning lock on it so you can turn around; it’s got lower drive to get you out of trouble. I feel very Canadian now.

What does a Tacoma say about you?

I think it says I finally got some common sense.

Are you a car buff?

No. I don’t think I’m a buff.

I think it’s incidental to life. All of us are so dependent on wheels. We can’t live without them – that’s the truth. Particularly in my business we’re always going somewhere in some sort of transport – a limousine, bus, taxi or airplane. That’s the nature of life.

Trucks, vans and buses play an enormous part of everyone’s life, particularly a musician on the road. A truck that broke down was the turning point of my career way back when.

I had come down from my hometown with my band at the time in 1967 and we were in London trying to make it as musicians. We had this fantastic show lined up in Norwich about 30 minutes out of London and the van broke down on the way. The guys were like, that’s it, I quit. And they all hitchhiked back home and I was on the verge of doing that and I thought, no I’m not gonna quit, yet. And I hitchhiked back to London and pressed on.

Another time when the van broke down with Free we were on our way to a show and we couldn’t get any kind of vehicle to take our gear. We finally found this vehicle that had been used to deliver fish. We loaded all our gear in. We got to the venue, threw the gear on stage and the crowd was getting very restless.

And we noticed the first three rows were backing away from the stage. We realized we smelled like a fish market after spending a couple of hours trapped in this vehicle.

When driving to gigs with the guys – was it low key or did you jam together?

Oh yeah, very often we would jam.

I remember on the way to Newcastle once I had the bus pull over and I pulled out the guitar from the back because I had an idea for a song. It was a song called Deep Blue. By the time we got to the venue I had it written. And we played it that night.

It’s definitely a great opportunity to write. Even sitting in an airport, you can pull out the guitar and sit there playing and very often someone will put a hat out and I’ll make a fortune sitting there! Just kidding. One of the guys will do that for a laugh.

What was your first car?

The first car I ever had was a Rover 3-litre.

I was 18. It was like a big old gangster car. It was fantastic. I got it for £300.

I didn’t actually have a licence and that didn’t stop me. I still drove it. I had a band called Peace at the time, it was after Free, and we toured England.

It was lovely. It had no seat belts and you could fit four-five people squeezed across the bench seats in the back. That car never let me down. We did hundreds and hundreds of miles on it.

What did you buy when you made it big?

I went through a stage of buying imports. I was living in England and I had a Mustang, a Camaro, a Cadillac – a 1959 Series 62 sedan, which is a collector’s item.

I wasn’t very wise on my choice of cars because they’d always break down all the time and they were expensive to get parts for. They didn’t really work for me.

Then I had an Aston Martin DBS with a Lagonda engine and a manual gear… I had a Bentley Mulsanne – it was a special car. It was six inches longer than a normal Bentley. It was huge. I drove it around in England.

I remember I came to a roundabout and I was perfectly legal and a little old grandma came flying around it and smashed into the side of it. She pulled over and wouldn’t open the window. I tapped on the window and I said, you’re going to have to talk to me dear, you smashed into me. Finally we spoke and exchanged details.

But it cost me a fortune to get fixed. When it came to the insurance, they said it was my fault. The insurance people said, oh, rock star in a Bentley – guess who is to blame?

I also went through a period of having bikes – a Pan European – I don’t think they even made them here. It was a Honda – a 1,200-cc and physically a big bike. Only my tip toes touched the ground.

Then, I got into Harleys. They’re a lovely bike – the balance is so sweet you sit so deeply into them. They don’t go very fast. They just make a lot of noise and go slowly. I don’t ride any more now.

If I can bring you the keys to any car what would it be?

I think I have a secret desire for a Ferrari, a red one.

Well, I would choose a Ferrari then sell it on to purchase a British racing green Austin Mini and a Smart car, which would leave me with plenty of funds to pass along to The Racehorse Sanctuary.

The interview has been edited and condensed.

pgentile@globeandmail.com

Follow on Twitter: @PetrinaGentile

 

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