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Shooting Star by Bad Company

Album: Straight ShooterReleased: 1975
  • This tells the story of young boy who grows up to be a rock star, but he succumbs to rock and roll excess and dies of a drug overdose. According to Bad Company lead singer Paul Rodgers, the song is a warning. He wrote it about the casualties of the music business; people like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin as well as others who didn't make it. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Mountlake Terrace, WA
  • An eerie parallel to the character in this song is Paul Kossoff, who was Paul Rogers' bandmate in the group Free. Kossoff died of a heroin overdose in 1976, a year after this was released. The guitarist was just 25 years old when he died.
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Comments: 38

Several clues that they had Hendrix in mind when this song was written: 1) Apparently Paul Rodgers mentioned Jimi specifically in an interview about the subject. 2) Initial comment in this list above from Eddie - Newport Beach makes excellent points about exact comparisons to Jimi's story, especially the song title reference. 3) As a guitar player, my friends and I have always thought the excellent solo at the end of this song was an obvious Hendrix tribute. Just listen to the tuning, effects, and style - absolutely one of my favorite 70's songs!Chris - Colorado
A huge part is inspired by Jimi Hendrix. Numerous top hits all in a very short period of time, then flamed out. He died, accidentally, of an overdose of sleeping tablets. If you listen to The Wind (Cries Mary) you can still hear him play.Eddie - Newport Beach
I believe the song was written for Jimi Hendrix. His songs all went to number one on the charts.Vicky - Fwb, Fl
This is a great song. However, I noticed the comment that perhaps the song was about Paul Kossoff of "Free" fame. The album "Straight Shooter" was released in April 1975. Paul died in 1976.Kent - Parry Sound, On
Or trying to sleepJg - Joppa, Md
He wasn't committing suicide. He was trying to get high and took too much.Jg - Joppa, Md
Saying that "Johnny" committed suicide is like saying that Heath Ledger committed suicide. In other words...not.Karen - Manchester, Nh
Also, "don't you know that you are a shooting star?" -- does that imply that Johnny doesn't realize that he is famous and is shooting up heroin but is too f*cked up to realize it (or care)?Richard - Berkeley, Ca
I heard this song on the radio a few days ago and just had to write down the name. I YouTube'd it and now can't stop listening. I thought the whiskey and sleeping tablets was an accident, but the more I research, the more convinced I am that it was intentional. But I just love the folksy opening, it feels so down at home, which is interesting because I live in the city and it feels like Johnny is from a small town. I also like how Johnny could be anybody. The story of rising to fame is just so "American.:Richard - Berkeley, Ca
The song can,t be about John Bonham, he was a drummer not a guitarist. Perhaps it is merely a generalisation of the dangers of being to caught up in the music scene, alcohol, drugs etc. A lot of great perfomers have fallen by the wayside over the years.
As Bon Scott once sang " It,s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll". Sadly though as we have seen many times, some come crashing down really hard
Peter, Melbourne, Australia
Peter - Melbourne, Australia
Always turn the station when it come on.The song just drags one of the songs that should be retired from classic rock formats.Dan - Winthrop, Ma
This song is on Rock Band 2. It is one of the easiest songs.Ryan - Anahola, Hi
Like all great creative people "Johnny" saw the world with great sensitivity and could not reconcile the reality of life with the artificial world that success and money creates.It is,I believe a sad commentary on so many great artist who died in such ways.Bad Company expresses that feeling in a powerful yet melancholy anthem.
The guitar work is folksy and forceful at the same time.Great rock ballad it is one of my all timers.
Chris - Ravenswood, Wv
the overdose is a symbolism of just going away, like a shooting star. burned hard and fast, then tapering off and gone.Jim - Monore, La
This song can't be about John Bonham since it came out in 1975 and Bonham died in 1980. That would be incredible prescience on their part if it was. It doesn't need to be about anyone in particular to still be a cautionary tale - Johnny could be any member of any kind of band.Beth - Winston-salem, Nc
About the whole suicide thing: It's foreshadowed by his mother's tears that he's going to meet a tragic end. Also a shooting star burns brightly, but dies in the end. Sleeping 'tablets' and whiskey (usually combined with an anti-vomiting drug) are frequently used to kill ones self.
As for accidental overdose, choosing a lifestyle that leads to such a death is so similar to suicide that it's reall just splitting hairs, eh?
A wonderful song! Powerful lyrics, voice and music, what more could you ask for?
5cats - Winnipeg, Mb
I too, have always thought it was about suicide, someone who had made it big and perhaps when his star was falling, had a hard time coping. The song mentions a couple times that the world will love you as "long as you are a shooting star" kind of emphasizing the fall from "rock star" grace
I think Paul Kossoff died of heart problems while on a plane, or that's the official story
Jon - West Bloomfield, Mi
some songs live with you forever this is such a song ! we all wish for that moment in life when we reach our goal'and make it . its the rest of life thats the real achivement!!!!Paul - Liverpool, United Kingdom
I was told that Gary Rossington and Allen Collins of Lynyrd Skynyrd was called upon on this song for their ideas on a solo.They didnt actually play on it but their advice was used.Randy W - Atlanta, Ga
bad company is a good band. But i wish paul rogers would not be in queen now. Hes ruining all the great songs that freddy made so greatRusty - Lake Park, Mn
i heard this song for the first time and i was completely hooked. just the opening line and BAM i couldnt stop listening.Shannon - Garland, Tx
Nothing in this song implies suicide. It is totally up to interpretation.Mark - Schererville, In
I always thought this song was talking about John Bonham. Led Zeppelin. Didn't he die of an overdose? Although he was a drummer, right? Maybe I don't know what I'm talkin' about. I'm just not sure.Mary - Phoenix, Az
Someone implied that rock and roll and taken a dive for the worse? The bands (good bands) have always been there, it's a matter of who got airplay and who got signed. There are millions of great bands that never got signed. Just because one guy in LA or Liverpool liked a band and decided to pay them money to record sounds, doesn't mean that they were the *only* band doing that at the time. Top 40 is not the measure of an era's music. An era's music is way too intensely humongous for any of us to judge thoroughly.

There's music out there that's just as good and just as inventive as any of this stuff we're reading about here.

(just had to say it. it's been gnawing at me for weeks while reading this website...)
Lee - Blacksburg , Va
This song is used for the opening credits in the Movie "Wonderland" Starring Val Kilmer and
Kate Bosworth
Dan Knight - Ft. Wayne, In
Great song, and their best besides Silver, Blue and Gold. My favorite line - and it's got to be a British term - is in the first verse about Johnny being in a "rock 'n roll outfit." You only hear Brits refer to bands using that term.David - Youngstown, Oh
where in the hell does it imply that he committed suicide? that doesn't follow the rest of the song at allTy - Indianapolis, In
Just an idea... maybe "Johnny" symbolizes rock'n'roll, as in "Johnny B. Goode." Rock was still a child when "he heard his first Beatles." And rock was just a shooting star - by the time (1975) this song was released, rock's star was far on the decline. I love the line: "If you listen to the wind you can still hear him play." As in, you can still hear rock's remanents. It's like "Johnny B. Goode" and "Shooting Star" are the bookends of the period of great rock music.Apb - Farmington, Ct
Freddie Mercury is nothing compared to Paul Rodgers. This is easily their best song. It's also their saddest. This song is kind of like my uncle. He was a bassist and was going on to great things. Too bad he died though. This song is a classic.Mercedies - Soldotna, Ak
freddy mercury is better than paul rodgersRusty - Arlen, Tx
I have heard for many years that this was a true story about the guitarist that was originally in Bad Company. I have always loved this song. Sad though, especially if it is true.Kara - Cadillac, Mi
This is my favorite Bad Company song. This on used to make me tear up when I was younger. Sad song... This song rocks though, and it still is their bestJt - Tullahoma, Tn
What did he expect was going to happen when he mixed sleeping pills and whiskey?Jay - Atlanta, Ga
Maybe Tim, maybe. But the lyrics can be "infered" while not knowing how it's implied. Possibly, Johnny was just looking to relax and sleep, and in doing so, "overdosed". One cannot assume he committed suicide, it's not conclusive.

This may be the case with other "overdose cases" , tough to tell what's going through the minds of others without evidence.
Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Wa
Thanks Tim. I wasn't sure about that one.Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
The lyrics imply that he committed suicide and did not accidentally overdose. Just wanted to point that out.Tim - Seattle, Wa
I like this one too. Could he have been writing about Paul Kossoff. He was his bandmate in Free, before BAd Company. Well probably not... but this song makes me think of that anyway. Paul Kossoff did have quite a few drug problems.Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
Wow, an amazing solo and amazing lyrics i love this song! (after hearing it once)Johhny - London, Mt
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