Bad Company

Album: Bad Company (1974)


  • According to just about every bio on the band, this song, and the band name, came from Bad Company, a critically acclaimed Western starring Jeff Bridges that was released in 1972. Lead singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke, both formerly of Free, formed the band with Mick Ralphs of Mott The Hoople. Ralphs brought in three songs from his days with Mott: "Ready For Love," "Movin' On" and "Can't Get Enough." Rodgers and Kirke wrote the song "Bad Company," and decided to use it as the band name. How did it happen?

    According to Kirke, Rodgers saw a poster advertising the movie and suggested it as the band name. Rodgers told a different story in a 2010 interview with Spinner. "It came from my childhood days," he said. "I saw a book on Victorian morals. They showed this picture of this Victorian punk. He was dressed like a tough, with a top hat and the spats and vests and the watch in the pocket and the tails and all of that. But everything was raggy. The shoes were popped out of the soles, and the top of the hat was popped out. And the guy is leaning on the lamppost with a bottle in his hand and a pipe in his mouth, obviously a dodgy person. And you've got this little choirboy kind of guy - a little kid, actually - looking up to him. And underneath it said, 'Beware of bad company.'"

    The singer added that he decided to go with a song with same name as the band as, "I think because it had never really been done, as far as I knew. I thought it was interesting to come out as a brand-new band with its own theme song."
  • There are times when you need to leave the studio to find the right atmosphere for a vocal (see: "The Boxer"). To get the hunting sound on this track, Paul Rogers recorded his vocals in the still of the night in the middle of a field under the moonlight. "It took about three hours to set it up, with wires and lends and everything, but when the time came there it was, and we just did it in the one take," he said.
  • Simon Kirke and Paul Rodgers are the credited writers on this song. According to Kirke, it was written in about 10 minutes. He told Goldmine, "When Bad Company was first formed, we had a period of time when there were only three solid members. It was five, six months before we got a bass player. So, we had Bad Company as a working title. It wasn't cast in stone that was going to be the name. Paul was playing around on the piano, came up with these three chords, and we took it away."
  • The album was recorded at Headley Grange, a mansion in Hampshire, England that Led Zeppelin used as a studio, recording the tracks in a mobile unit parked outside. Bad Company, which didn't yet have a name (they were referred to as "the Paul Rodgers band") signed to Zeppelin's Swan Song label when Zeppelin was working on their album Physical Graffiti. Led Zeppelin had to leave Headley Grange for a while, so their manager, Peter Grant, had Bad Company record there using the same setup with Ron Nevison, who was working on Physical Graffiti, as engineer. They spent about two weeks recording at Headley Grange, then they did overdubs and mixing at Olympic Studios in London. The system worked: they captured a rich, organic sound and stayed focused throughout the process.
  • Rogers told Spinner: "I wrote the song with that Western feel - with an almost biblical, promise-land kind of lawless feel to it. The name backed it up in a lot of respects."
  • The American metal band Five Finger Death Punch covered this on their 2009 album, War is the Answer. The band's guitarist Zoltan Bathory explained to Metal Hammer: "It's one that we've played live from time to time but never really thought about recording, but we've had so many emails and messages from fans asking when we're going to record it that we thought we should give it a shot. I think it's really important when you cover a song that you try to make it your own rather than just playing the original, but it's definitely come out sounding like Five Finger Death Punch."

Comments: 15

  • Tuesdaywhistler from GranthamChose a gun and threw away the SUN
  • 5 from Palau, North Western PacificI really love Bad Company's songs, been a fan ever since they appear in the 70s & never get tired of listening to all their songs - long live the Group!!
  • Earle Cummings from Geyserville CaliforniaThis song is lie a biography of an ancestor, Jack Bishop. He lived in Missouri around the Civil War, fought with the “border ruffians” a pro-slavery group, then Quantrill’s Guerillas, made friends with the James Boys. After skirmishing with them awhile, he was captured by Union troopers and given the choice of enlisting or execution, so enlisted, served a little and deserted. After the war, robbed banks and trains with the James Gang. Finally left them, came to California, stayed with his brother, TC Bishop, who was running for County Sheriff. Brother gave him a horse and told him to get out of town and change his name. He did. Died as John Hall in Galice Creek Oregon, of old age.
  • Jax from Redwood, CaFive Finger Death Punch covered this song. It was used on the FX Original Series "Sons of Anarchy"
  • Dane from Green Cove Springs Fla., FlStephen King used this song in his book, The Dark Tower. I thought it was appropriate. Way cool song.
  • Jloost from Utrecht, NetherlandsI HIGHLY doubt that Paul Rodgers has said "I think because it had never really been done, as far as I knew." regarding the song and band name being the same... He had PROBABLY heard of Black Sabbath by the time Bad Company was founded!
  • Willie from Scottsdale, AzBad Company's first albums were produced by Swan Song Records, the vanity label that Atlantic set up for Led Zeppelin. Signing Bad Company was a real coup for such an unknown label.
  • Marlene from Montreal, QcIt was used as a Promo/theme song for "The Young Riders" Tv series...which starred near-unknowns Josh Brolin, Stephen Baldwin and Melissa Leo (pre-Homicide).
  • Ralp from Sedona, AzActually I believe Black Sabbath's First album and first song ("Black Sabbath") had the same name?
  • Nicole from Chicago, IlI've always loved this song. It's one of the band's best. I loved that it was featured in an episode of "Supernatural". It worked really well with the episode. That show has awesome music.
  • Allison from A Little Ol' Town In, MiThis song ROCKS! Bad Company is a very underrated group and should get more recognition. Paul Rodgers has an amazing voice on this song
  • Lester from New York City, NyWhat is missing from this song is a four minute guitar solo to end it. Mick Ralphs may be the most underappreciated lead guitar player in rock. I've been a fan since the first Mott the Hoople album (You Really Got an instrumental and Rock and Roll Queen).

    When Paul Rodgers left Bad Company, Mick went back to adding the ending guitar break in 'Ready for Love' the way he played it for Mott the Hoople.

    And Mick sang 80% of Mott's best songs, Rodgers never gave Mick the opportunity to sing. On Mott's 'Ready for Love', Mick is the lead singer.

    Bad Co. fans, check out Mott the Hoople's first 6 albums (excluding 'Wildlife), and you may appreciate the talents of Mick Ralphs.
  • Mark from Schererville, InThey didn't list any Bad Co songs because VH1 is a sham. How any list of the 100 greatest rock songs of all time could not include a single Bad Company song is beyond me.
    - Mark, Schererville, IN
  • Jay from Atlanta, GaThere's a lot of references to VH1's "lists" on this site. Why did they not mention any of Bad Company's songs on the "100 greatest rock songs"? A travesty.
  • Linda from San Diego, CaI totally agree!! I think it's their best, of course personal preference. The piano is directly lifted from the film it's named after. If you think the song rocks, watch the movie!! It kicks ass! Ths song is a total tribute to the film, and for me, BB.
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