“Peter Grant put us right where Led Zeppelin were... We went into the arenas overnight”: Paul Rodgers on the meteoric rise of Bad Company

Bad Company in 1974
(Image credit: Mark Sullivan/Getty Images))

In the new issue of Classic Rock, out this Friday, Paul Rodgers looks back over his life and times in a mammoth, career-spanning interview. One of rock’s all-time great vocalists, Rodgers talks Free, Bad Company, The Firm and Queen whilst also contemplating the tragedy of Paul Kossoff, guiding us through his solo career and why probably owes the fact that he’s still alive today to his involvement in martial arts.

When it comes to Bad Company, Rodgers tells Classic Rock’s Mark Blake that the band represented a massive step-up compared to anything he’d done previously, and he puts that down to the rockers being under the wing of legendary Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant. “Peter was great,” Rodgers says. “Everything was five stars, and everything was taken care of. We were spoiled rotten, to tell you the truth.”

There was no expense spared, Rodgers explains as he recounts the time that Bad Company went to the US to open for the Edgar Winter Group but acted like bigger stars than the headliners, flying between states in a private jet and arriving at gigs in limousines. “We were catapulted into America,” Rodgers laughs, “and Peter Grant put us right where Led Zeppelin were in terms of aeroplanes and limousines. We went into the arenas overnight… Peter and Led Zeppelin had it all down – the American scene and all the business involved – and we benefited from that.”

Asked if he ever worried about the band existing in Led Zeppelin’s shadow, Rodgers waves away the notion. “No. Honestly, I had no problem with being on [Zeppelin’s vanity label] Swan Song. I thought it was absolutely the bee’s knees. I used to go into the Swan Song office from time to time, down on the King’s Road opposite the World’s End pub, and I’d bump into Jimmy [Page] and Robert [Plant].”

For more on Rodgers’ encounters with Led Zeppelin, plus reflections on the band he formed with Jimmy Page, what it was like to replace Freddie Mercury in Queen and much more, order a copy of the new issue of Classic Rock from Friday.

Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer and editor whose work can be found in Classic Rock, The Guardian, Music Week, FourFourTwo, on Apple Music and more. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Q magazine, he co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former Q colleagues Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. He is also Reviews Editor at Record Collector. Over the years, he's interviewed some of the world's biggest stars, including Elton John, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Robert Plant and more. Radiohead was only for eight minutes but he still counts it.