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Foghat’s Roger Earl Refuses to Slow His Ride

By this point in his life, Foghat founding drummer Roger Earl has visited quite a few doctors.  But what may be surprising is that the percussionist, 77, is quick to point out that many of the medical professionals who have worked on him also enjoy rocking out.

“Nearly all the doctors and surgeons I know, they all play something: trumpet, sax, violin, guitar,” Earl said recently.  “There’s not too many drummers that are surgeons, there’s probably a good reason for that!”

Earl half-jokingly invites his surgeon-rockers to join him and the other members of Foghat onstage at the Fillmore in Silver Spring March 9, where they will be headlining the Rock and Roll for Children Foundation benefit for the Children’s Inn at NIH.  Earl, the only original member of Foghat still in the band, will be banging the skins behind guitarist Bryan Bassett and other members Scott Holt and Rodney O’Quinn.  “Slow Ride,” the band’s 1975 megahit, is all but assured to be on the setlist, along with tunes from Foghat’s most recent record, “Sonic Mojo.”

To help raise money for the charity, one of Earl’s patented Ludwig drum kits, the one he played on the 1994 album “Return of the Boogey Men,” will be up for bids.  Fans can also splash out for 

Foghat-branded wine. 

“I use DW drums now, but I’m still good friends with Bill Ludwig,” Earl said of the up-for-purchase kit, which he said spent some time “stuck in our warehouse down in Florida where we have our studio.”

“It went from a really nice red color to this sort of pukey orange that looks like it had a bad trip,” he said of the “gently” used percussion kit.  “We’ll see if we can raise some money.”

Foghat Sonic Mojo 2024 Tour. Fillmore Silver Spring, MD March 9

The Children’s Inn at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is a nonprofit that helps provide a wide variety of programs and services to children fighting serious diseases. The band connected with the organization via a board member who, like those rockin’ doctors Earl mentioned, also dabbles in music on the side. Earl says that the opportunity presents a chance for he and the members of Foghat to give back to a public that has been rather generous to the band over the last 50 years.

“The way I think about it is when you’re grown up and something goes wrong, you’re like fair enough, it’s what it is. But for children, they like to have a chance to have a go at life,” the drummer said, adding that he’ll bring some drumsticks to the healthcare facility to hand out to the youngsters. “I’m going to go and see the kids. I don’t think the rest of the band is going to be able to because they’re flying in and I’m driving down, so we’re gonna raise some money.

“Kids with drumsticks, not a good idea!”

Earl grew up in London, and was able to catch the Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, and Cyril Davies and his Rhythm & Blues All Stars working the nightclubs. At home he spun records by Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Muddy Waters while working on his own technique.

“And then I got in this great band,” he said of joining Foghat in 1971. “So life is good.”

Indeed, Earl is not only the only original member still in the band, but one of the last still living. “Lonesome” David Jack Peverett passed in 2000, with guitarist Rod Price following in 2005. Bassist Tony Stephens left the group in 1974 and now fronts a Foghat-adjacent band called Slow Ride.

“I knew if the band was going to be relevant and be creative, we had to find somewhere to record,” Earl said of keeping Foghat going long after the departures of those original members. The band now has 17 albums to its resume, including last year’s “Sonic Mojo.”

“Some friends of ours helped us out down in Florida, and we made four albums in the studios. It’s in the middle of nowhere, on 10 acres. We can make as much noise as we want,” Earl said of recording down south. “And that’s the reason I got into music: I loved being in a band; I love being creative. Making noise in your garage is great for a while, but playing in a band is what it’s all about.”

Earl first came to America in 1973, and has lived on Long Island for several decades. He was even inducted into the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame last May, joining such luminous company as Billy Joel.

“My wife and manager and girlfriend kept it from me,” Earl said of the honor—then added, with a cheeky bit of wry English humor: “Those three are the same!”

Foghat Sonic Mojo 2024 Tour. Fillmore Silver Spring, MD March 9
Foghat Sonic Mojo 2024 Tour. Fillmore Silver Spring, MD March 9

“Sonic Mojo” is Foghat’s first album in seven years, with its gestation partially affected by the pandemic. However, having lived a life on the road for so many years, Earl said that being forced to stay at home allowed him to have a true holiday for the first time in many years.

“We had a couple of breaks here and there, but I’ve been on the road since I was 16 years old,” he said. “I got to go fishing [during the pandemic], you know, which was really [cool].”

But gradually Foghat got back at it again. However, Earl still managed to contract covid three times despite being vaccinated.

And touring is far different for Earl than in the early years. Typically he flies in for the gig, with his DW drum kit and Marshall amps ready and waiting upon arrival at the venue. In the dressing room, he and the band will often jam and see what new ideas pop up that they can refine at the soundcheck.

“That’s actually where we get a lot of our ideas for some of our songs,” Earl said. “We’ll just jam and the front-of-house engineer or somebody will [record] it on their phone.”

When asked if it feels surreal to have been with Foghat for a half-century, Earl chuckles sardonically, saying that those 50 years have passed in the seeming blink of an eye.

“The thing is I realize how fortunate I am,” he said. “I started taking drum lessons when I was 11 or 12 years old [and] I wanted to be in a band. I got to do what I wanted to do since I was a kid.”

Earl has made certain adjustments to his on-stage playing, such as lowering his cymbals. He’ll typically spend an hour practicing, and he also makes sure to work out several times a week and eat right.

“It’s not a really bad time to be alive basically. We’re growing older, but they’ve got all this new stuff they can fix you up with,” Earl said, adding that his doctor friends—which aren’t precisely hard to come by on Long Island—often “treat you like you’re an athlete” in terms of their recommended treatment plans for him.

As he said, life is good.

Earl adds that, in addition to “coworkers,” his current band members are also his friends offstage as well as on.

“I get to earn a living playing in a great rock n’ roll band,” he said. “Ain’t gonna stop—gonna roll till we’re old, gonna rock till we drop.”

Foghat plays the Fillmore Silver Spring March 9. For more information, visit SilverSpringStage.com.

Eric Althoff

A native of New Jersey, Eric Althoff has published articles in “The Washington Post,” “Los Angeles Times,” “Napa Valley Register,” “Black Belt,” DCist, ScreenComment.com and Luxe Getaways. He produced the Emmy-winning documentary, “The Town That Disappeared Overnight,” and has covered the Oscars live at the Dolby Theater. He lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia, with his wife, Victoria.

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