Former Free and Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers and drummer-about-town Mike Portnoy both love The Beatles. Here, they tell Classic Rock what makes them important.
Paul Rodgers “I still recall first seeing the Beatles on TV doing Love Me Do, which wasn’t their biggest hit but for me there was an immediate connection. That cheeky John Lennon smile – you know the one? Whenever I hear that song it’s like I’m 14 years old again and back at the local dance.
“Something that’s a little forgotten is the importance of George Harrison. He tends to be overlooked in the clamour to praise Lennon and McCartney, and who wouldn’t be I suppose? But he was a huge, dynamic part of the Beatles sound; with those guitar solos that he played he would drop diamonds into their songs. George wrote great songs, too.
“Their catalogue is incredibly rich. If you were to ask my favourite album of theirs, it’s hard to argue with Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band . That was probably the first ever concept album. I loved it back then and it’s stood the test of time.
“One of the biggest thrills of my career was being invited to play in Liverpool at the Cavern [in June 2000]. Standing there on that legendary stage – and it’s not even as big as a modern day drum-riser! – was an incredible feeling because it was from there that those four guys went out and changed the world. They literally did. Being there, in that same space as them, actually sent shivers down my spine.”
**Mike Portnoy **“Man, I could talk to you about The Beatles for hours – I’m probably as big a Beatles fanboy as you’ll ever meet! My leg is tattooed with Yellow Submarine and Sgt Pepper images! I loved everything about them. They did everything first; they broke all the rules and they made all the rules at the same time. And y’know, for me my favourite period of The Beatles began once they stopped touring, right after Rubber Soul and when they made Revolver and they started getting into studio experimentation.
If you listen to the earlier albums, there was one style going on, essentially. But once they got onto Revolver and Sgt Pepper the studio technology and studio approach they were taking was absolutely ground-breaking. And they had that diversity that I’m talking about – if you listen to Sgt Pepper you have Within You Without You which is like Indian music, and then you have When I’m 64 which is almost like old 40s music, and then Sgt Pepper (Reprise) which is hard rock.
And then they took it even further with the White Album – the range on the White Album, with those four sides, is ridiculous. Four distinctively different voices and approaches… I think that’s when they started to spread apart, I suppose to the detriment of the band, ultimately.
Anyway, I very much see Flying Colors as a similar type of band, musically. I’m not comparing us to them on a creative level or a personal level. But on a diversity level, when you drop the needle on the [Flying Colors] record, it could go in any direction from song to song.”
_The Art of Paul McCartney, featuring Paul Rodgers and many others, is released on November 18. The second album by Mike Portnoy’s Flying Colors, Second Nature, is out on October 6. _
If your newsagent isn’t selling issue 202 of Classic Rock, which contains our special feature on The Beatles, you can order it online from MyFavouriteMagazines. Alternatively, you can download the Classic Rock magazine app from iTunes.