Simon Kirke - From Free to Bad Company and Beyond

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Meet drummer Simon Kirke

Drummer Simon Kirke kept the beat for two of the ’70s most popular bluesy hard rockers: Free and Bad Company.

Born in London, England on July 28, 1949, Kirke’s family didn’t include any musicians, but he developed an interest in music at a young age, when Kirke sang in his school’s choir. Shortly after becoming a teenager, The Beatles awakened Kirke’s interest in rock music and he picked up the drums, leading to a gig with a local band called The Maniacs with Kirke supplying drums and lead vocals (a combination quite uncommon at the time).

Early Years:

Simon worked out a deal with his parents after graduating high school, that if he couldn’t make it as a drummer in a band within a two-year period, he would then start a college career. Just a few months before the self-imposed deadline, Kirke landed a gig with a group called the Black Cat Bones. The drummer befriended the group’s talented guitarist, Paul Kossoff who in turn convinced Kirke to leave the group with him and begin a new outfit with singer Paul Rodgers. With ex-John Mayall Bluesbreakers’ bassist, Andy Fraser signed on as well, Free was officially formed in 1968. 

Free: The Birth of a Legend (1968-1973):

Mixing blues with hard rock, the group would prove to be influential, especially on the strength of their classic 1970 release, the  anthemic hit single “All Right Now.” This timeless anthem, with Kirke’s driving beat, became an instant classic and remains a staple of rock radio playlists to this day. The band’s albums, such as “Fire and Water” and “Highway,” showcased their musical prowess and cemented their place in rock history. 

Turbulent Times and Free's Farewell (1973):

Although the band was hugely popular, a dangerous drug habit began to hamper Kossoff’s playing. Free faced internal struggles, primarily due to tensions between Kirke and Fraser. These disputes ultimately led to the band’s dissolution in 1973. Free’s final performance at London’s Alexandra Palace marked the end of an era. Sadly, Paul Kossoff died just three years later.

The Birth of Bad Company (1973):

Out of the ashes of Free, a new rock powerhouse emerged: Bad Company. Kirke, along with Paul Rodgers, Mick Ralphs, and Boz Burrell, formed this supergroup, taking the music world by storm. Their eponymous debut album, “Bad Company,” was a massive success, yielding classics like “Can’t Get Enough” and “Movin’ On.”

Bad Company’s trademark sound, rooted in bluesy rock and Kirke’s impeccable drumming, struck a chord with fans across the globe. They followed up their debut with a string of successful albums, including “Straight Shooter” and “Run with the Pack,” each featuring Kirke’s rhythmic wizardry.

Bad Company's Legacy and Beyond (1970s-1980s):

Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, Bad Company continued to produce hits that showcased Simon Kirke’s drumming finesse. Songs like “Feel Like Makin’ Love” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy” solidified the band’s place in rock history. Kirke’s steady presence behind the kit ensured the group’s enduring appeal. The group went on to become one of the decade’s top rock outfits before splitting up in 1982 (the group would reunite later in the decade without Paul Rodgers, with varying results, before Rodgers rejoined during the late ’90s). 

Bad Company Reunion and Continuing the Legacy (1990s-Present):

In the late ’80s, Bad Company took a hiatus, allowing Simon to explore other musical endeavors. He worked on solo projects and collaborated with various artists, demonstrating his versatility as a musician.

Simon Kirke appears on a host of recordings and goes solo:

In addition to his work with Free and Bad Company, Simon Kirke has guested on a long list of recordings by other artists over the years, including albums by Jim Capaldi,  Ringo Starr and Ron Wood among countless others. In 2003, Simon launched his first solo tour. He released his debut solo outing soon after and has since toured with Bad Company and The Eagles’ Joe Walsh and recorded a soul-baring solo record, “All Because of You” with Chicago band, The Empty Pockets. To learn more about Simon Kirke head to his website here . 

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Ava Hebda

    Wonderful synopsis of perhaps the greatest band Ever…certainly the most stirring sounds from the 70’s collective! Simon’s drums always and forever a tether for Paul Rodgers incomparable voice and those fabulous blues rock guitarists!!! Kudos!

  2. Philip William Cook

    Love Bad Company Paul Rodgers one of my favorite singers ever

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