Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bad Company's Shooting Star: A Rock Ballad Classic

Bad Company's "Shooting Star" is one of my favorite rock ballads. The track is a cautionary tale about the excesses of rock superstardom. The song tells the story of a kid named Johnny who dreams of becoming a rock star. He achieves his dream, but falls victim to the pitfalls and excesses of being a rock star and dies young from a drug overdose. Unfortunately, this sad scenario continues to play out all too often in real life. Over the last few years, we've seen more than a few music greats go out the way Johnny had in the song, making this track very timely and more relevant than ever.

There have been plenty of songs that have touched on this subject, but "Shooting Star" has a poignancy and quiet power that just moves the listener. The gentle, understated fashion in which Paul Rodgers sings the lyrics underscores the song's tragic tale. It also has a gorgeous chorus. The Rodgers-penned song was featured on Bad Company's triple-platinum album Straight Shooter (1975), which also included their top-ten smash "Feel Like Makin' Love." I thought "Shooting Star" was used very effectively for the opening credits of the film Wonderland, which is about the infamous Wonderland Murders in Hollywood Hills. It just seemed to fit so well.

British hard rock band Bad Company was formed in 1973. All four members had impressive rock pedigrees: Rodgers was previously the lead vocalist for Free; guitarist Mick Ralphs was formerly with Mott the Hoople; the late Boz Burrell had been the bassist for King Crimson; and drummer Simon Kirke had also been a member of Free. And the band was managed by the late Peter Grant, who also managed Led Zeppelin. The band was considered one of the first '70s supergroups and had a string of hit singles and a run of successful albums. Bad Company is one of the most acclaimed bands of the classic rock era, and Rodgers is widely regarded as one of the greatest rock vocalists of all time, with legions of artists and bands citing him as an influence both as a singer and a songwriter.

Bad Company disbanded in 1982, but has reformed in various incarnations over the years. However, none could touch the original powerhouse lineup of Rodgers, Kirke, Burrell and Ralphs in my opinion.

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