Rick Davies (Supertramp)

best known as the founder, vocalist and keyboardist of progressive rock band Supertramp, English musician, singer and songwriter Richard “Rick” Davies was born 22 July 1944 in Swindon, Wiltshire in 1944. Rick went to Sanford Street School, When he was eight his parents gave him a secondhand radiogram which included a few records left by the previous owner. Among them were Drummin’ Man by drumming legend Gene Krupa, and Davies decided to become a drummer. So a friend of the family made Rick a makeshift drum kit out of a biscuit tin, and at the age of 12 he joined the British Railways Staff Association Brass and Silver Jubilee Band as a snare drummer. He never had lessons for keyboards, but, taught himself most of what he knows about music”.

In 1959, he joined a rock’n’roll band called Vince and the Vigilantes. Then In 1962, while studying in the art department at Swindon College, he formed his own band, called Rick’s Blues, and was now playing a Hohner electric piano instead of drums. The band included Gilbert O’Sullivan on drums for a time; he later was the best man at Davies’s wedding. When his father became ill, Davies disbanded Rick’s Blues, left college, and took a job as a welder at Square D, making industrial control products and systems, which had a factory on the Cheney Manor Trading Estate in Swindon. In 1966 he became the organist for The Lonely Ones (best known for being one of Noel Redding’s first bands, though Redding had left by the time Davies joined), who later changed their name to The Joint and recorded the soundtracks for a number of German films. While the band was in Munich, Davies met Dutch millionaire Stanley August Miesegaes, who offered to fund him if he started a new group.

Davies decided to form a new band and returned home from Switzerland to place an ad in the music magazine Melody Maker in August 1969. Roger Hodgson was auditioned and, despite their contrasting backgrounds – Davies’s working class upbringing and Hodgson’s private school education – they struck up an instant rapport and began writing virtually all of their songs together. The band was initially called Daddy, but renamed Supertramp in January 1970. Supertramp became one of the first acts to sign to the emerging A&M Records, and by the summer of 1970 they had recorded their first album, simply called Supertramp. Hodgson performed most of the lead vocals, but by their second album Indelibly Stamped, Davies had stepped up as a singer, and he and Hodgson were sharing lead vocal duties equally.

After five years with Davies and Hodgson as the mainstays of a continuously changing group, Supertramp settled into a stable lineup and recorded Crime of the Century, which finally brought them critical and commercial success when it was released in 1974. It reached number four in the UK Albums Chart. Sadly Davies’s relationship with Hodgson had begun to deteriorate, and the two began writing most of their songs separately again, though they agreed to have them all credited to Davies/Hodgson by contract. Among the songs credited to Davies/Hodgson but actually written solely by Davies are the hits “Bloody Well Right” and “Goodbye Stranger”. By 1977 they had relocated to the United States, and it was there that they recorded their best-selling album, Breakfast in America. With more hit singles than their first five albums combined, it reached number three in the UK, and top of the charts in America. The album is reckoned to have sold over 20 million copies since its release on 29 March 1979.

In 1983, Hodgson quit. Davies’s relationship with him had deteriorated and the group’s last hit before his departure, “My Kind of Lady”, featured little involvement from him as either a writer or performer. The song was a showcase for Davies’s vocal range, with him singing in everything from a booming bass to a piercing falsetto to his natural raspy baritone. Davies’s voice is deeper than Hodgson’s, and stands in stark contrast to his bandmate’s tenor. However, he occasionally sings in a falsetto which superficially resembles Hodgson’s vocals, such as on “Goodbye Stranger” and “My Kind of Lady”. He also plays harmonica for the group.

Following Roger Hodgson’s departure in 1983, Davies became the sole lead vocalist of the group.With Davies now firmly at the helm, Supertramp returned to a more non-commercial, progressive rock-oriented approach. They nonetheless managed another hit with “Cannonball”. Davies has been the only constant member of the band since its inception, and has composed some of their most well-known songs, including “Goodbye Stranger”, “Bloody Well Right”, “My Kind of Lady”, and “Cannonball”. He is generally noted for his sophisticated blues and jazz-influenced progressive rock compositions and cynical lyrics. The band continued to tour and record before disbanding, with a mutual agreement between the members that Supertramp had run its course. However In 1997, during work on what would have been his first solo album, Davies decided to reform Supertramp. The group promptly returned to recording and touring, yielding another two studio albums before splitting again. Supertramp reunited in 2010 for their 70–10 tour.

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