Shooting Star

Album: Straight Shooter (1975)


  • This tells the story of young boy who grows up to be a rock star, but succumbs to rock and roll excess and dies of a drug overdose. According to Bad Company lead singer Paul Rodgers, who wrote it, 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 Rodgers' 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.
  • In a Songfacts interview with Bad Company drummer Simon Kirke, he said, "It was a sort of homage to the pitfalls of being in the rock world. You can let the success go to your head and you can get strung out and you can die. It's very, very simple. And, unfortunately, it's happening with alarming frequency to this day. Addiction will always be with us. But 'Shooting Star' was based on a composite of musicians."
  • The album was recorded at Clearwell Castle in Wales, near the border with England. Ron Nevison, the band's engineer, made the arrangements. "It was a gothic castle that was opened in the summer for tourists, but in the wintertime, it was closed up and they just rented it out to rock bands to rehearse in," Nevison told Songfacts. "But where you can rehearse, you can record. So, I went up to have a look at it, and I said, 'Yeah, this would be great.'"

    The tape machines and other recording gear were in a mobile recording studio parked outside - the same unit used to record Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti and The Who's Quadrophenia.

Comments: 48

  • Lee Bob from Minnesota“Shooting Star” has held the number one slot of “Worst Song of All Time” on my Worst list for over 2 decades. Dreadful.
  • AnonymousOh man...if you don't love Bad Co.i don't know how you could love Rock n Roll. I just saw Paul Rodgers last year 2019 touring with REO Speedwagon and they absolutely Rocked the House that night. They were amazing. These bands and singers are old now and I knew I might not get another chance to see them play. I love silver, blue and gold rainbow is overdue. Paul Rodgers was.amazing. Bad Co. I love all their music and you guys are lo ed by were my x husband's favorite band and Journey... Now there's a voice nobody could match. Steve Perry..when I hear journey today on the radio it almost brings me to back in the late 70s. And memories of a world gone away. This world is so crazy and confused and violent I'm so grateful that I'm not young because the future of is dying and it's heartbreaking.Thank you Paul for 40 years of driving in my truck rocking out to feel like making love...
  • Nafisa from ChinaSad that such young talent just goes waste with some musicians consumed by drugs that are so readily available.
  • Todd from Tawas City, MiIts obvious its about jimi Hendrix. He was born john allen hendrix... so he is johnny..
    Botle of whiskey sleeping tablets..
    Listen to the wind you can still hear him play..
  • Judy Magill from Redding CaI just realized that Bad Company was just starting out the same year I graduated high school what a rush! And I also saw Bad Company with Damn Yankees around 1991, and they just didn't have the same "power" as before but they put on a better show than Ted Nugent!!
  • Don from TwoJust a Heads Up to Chris from WA. When you saw them with Damn Yankees, it wasn't Paul Rogers singing. Rogers left the band from 1982 - 1998. The Lead singer was most likely Brian Howe. Damn Yankees were popular in the early 90's and split around 1994... I saw this tour in RI, and it wasn't the lead singer who sang shooting star, it was the drummer, Simon Kirke. He came out from behind the drums, sat on a stool and played it. I bet they were worried that fans would be mad if the "new" singer sang Rogers signature tune, so they let an original member of Free and Bad Company sing it...Kirke. Thats probably why you got confused and thought it was "dedicated to the drummer" it WAS the drummer.
  • David from CaliforniaI just had a thought, what if this is a kind of parallel to the song "Johnny b Goode"?
  • Zach from Columbus, OhioI don't know any facts about the history of the song, but I also thought that it definitely had hendrix in mind because in the end he says something about hwaring him still play if you listen closely to the wind, after which there's a pretty short little lick that sounds a-la-hendrix, at least compared to the other lead parts in the song.

    I also was thinking that perhaps it is commentary about the idolization of of musicians who died young due to drug overdoses and perhaps a warning in a way. As a former junkie I don't mean this in any disparaging way to anyone who struggles with addiction but I believe this idea of the tragic rockstar has kind of become engrained in a lot of peoples minds, but from my experience and observations, most people who start using heroin end up selling their guitars, not achieving international fame.
  • Jd from California To Chris of WA, Paul Rodgers never toured with Damn Yankees that was Brian Howe. Paul himself has said several times that it was about a collection of people and more of a warning to others. He also was a Hendrix fan and probably had him in mind.
  • Chris from WaI saw Bad Company with Damn Yankees and Paul Rodgers came out and dedicated this to his late drummer did an acoustic set so that's who it's about.
  • Chris from ColoradoSeveral 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!
  • Eddie from Newport BeachA 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.
  • Vicky from Fwb, FlI believe the song was written for Jimi Hendrix. His songs all went to number one on the charts.
  • Kent from Parry Sound, OnThis 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.
  • Jg from Joppa, MdOr trying to sleep
  • Jg from Joppa, MdHe wasn't committing suicide. He was trying to get high and took too much.
  • Karen from Manchester, NhSaying that "Johnny" committed suicide is like saying that Heath Ledger committed suicide. In other words...not.
  • Richard from Berkeley, CaAlso, "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 from Berkeley, CaI 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.:
  • Peter from Melbourne, AustraliaThe 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
  • Dan from Winthrop, MaAlways turn the station when it come on.The song just drags one of the songs that should be retired from classic rock formats.
  • Ryan from Anahola, HiThis song is on Rock Band 2. It is one of the easiest songs.
  • Chris from Ravenswood, WvLike 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.
  • Jim from Monore, Lathe overdose is a symbolism of just going away, like a shooting star. burned hard and fast, then tapering off and gone.
  • Beth from Winston-salem, NcThis 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.
  • 5cats from Winnipeg, MbAbout 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?
  • Jon from West Bloomfield, MiI 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
  • Paul from Liverpool, United Kingdomsome 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!!!!
  • Randy W from Atlanta, GaI 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.
  • Rusty from Lake Park, Mnbad 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 great
  • Shannon from Garland, Txi heard this song for the first time and i was completely hooked. just the opening line and BAM i couldnt stop listening.
  • Mark from Schererville, InNothing in this song implies suicide. It is totally up to interpretation.
  • Mary from Phoenix, AzI 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.
  • Lee from Blacksburg , VaSomeone 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...)
  • Dan Knight from Ft. Wayne, InThis song is used for the opening credits in the Movie "Wonderland" Starring Val Kilmer and
    Kate Bosworth
  • David from Youngstown, OhGreat 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.
  • Ty from Indianapolis, Inwhere in the hell does it imply that he committed suicide? that doesn't follow the rest of the song at all
  • Apb from Farmington, CtJust 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.
  • Mercedies from Soldotna, AkFreddie 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.
  • Rusty from Arlen, Txfreddy mercury is better than paul rodgers
  • Kara from Cadillac, MiI 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.
  • Jt from Tullahoma, TnThis 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 best
  • Jay from Atlanta, GaWhat did he expect was going to happen when he mixed sleeping pills and whiskey?
  • Mike from Mountlake Terrace, WaMaybe 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.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScThanks Tim. I wasn't sure about that one.
  • Tim from Seattle, WaThe lyrics imply that he committed suicide and did not accidentally overdose. Just wanted to point that out.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScI 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.
  • Johhny from London, MtWow, an amazing solo and amazing lyrics i love this song! (after hearing it once)
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Janis Ian: Married in London, but not in New York

Janis Ian: Married in London, but not in New YorkSong Writing

Can you be married in one country but not another? Only if you're part of a gay couple. One of the first famous singers to come out as a lesbian, Janis wrote a song about it.

dUg Pinnick of King's X

dUg Pinnick of King's XSongwriter Interviews

dUg dIgs into his King's X metal classics and his many side projects, including the one with Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam.

Allen Toussaint - "Southern Nights"

Allen Toussaint - "Southern Nights"They're Playing My Song

A song he wrote and recorded from "sheer spiritual inspiration," Allen's didn't think "Southern Nights" had hit potential until Glen Campbell took it to #1 two years later.

Mike Scott of The Waterboys

Mike Scott of The WaterboysSongwriter Interviews

The stories behind "Whole Of The Moon" and "Red Army Blues," and why rock music has "outlived its era of innovation."

Graduation Songs

Graduation SongsFact or Fiction

Have you got the smarts to know which of these graduation song stories are real?

Macabre Mother Goose: The Dark Side of Children's Songs

Macabre Mother Goose: The Dark Side of Children's SongsSong Writing

"London Bridge," "Ring Around the Rosie" and "It's Raining, It's Pouring" are just a few examples of shockingly morbid children's songs.