THE BLOG
09/26/2014 12:52 pm ET Updated Nov 26, 2014

INTERVIEW: Paul Rodgers... Free, Bad Company, The Firm, and His Latest, "The Royal Sessions"

Scott Legato via Getty Images

If you've listened to Rock Radio in the USA for any length of time in the last 35 years, you have heard Paul Rodgers' voice over 200 times... easy!

Paul is probably the most famous and well known rock vocalist that a whole lotta people don't know by name.

Paul was the voice of Free whose "All Right Now", a song recorded in 1970, is likely playing on over 200 radio stations in America as you reads this sentence or any other sentence for the rest of the day.

Paul was the voice of Bad Company whose "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love", a song recorded in 1974, is likely playing on over 200 stations in America as you read this sentence or any other sentence for the rest of the day.

Paul Rodgers was 18 when he cut his first album with his band mates, Paul Kossoff on guitar, Andy Fraser on bass, Simon Kirke on drums. This was Free, quietly one of the truly consummate rock bands in the music's history. Almost absurdly influential as well. Few 'civilians' seem to know this, but, the next time you're chatting with a guy in a band, maybe one over 30, ask him what he thinks of Free. You'll see... Rock musicians with any sense of history constantly list Free along side the likes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin as a major influence, myself included. Free's uniquely sparse filled-with-space sophisticated simplicity is a forever template for rock bands, as much as the wild and ornate Who and Zep are.

Paul Rodgers recently completed a project he'd been planning in his head for many years. Called The Royal Sessions after the legendary Royal Studio in Memphis where most of Paul's favorites were originally cut. This is an album of covers of the blues and R&B songs that had the most impact on Paul as a fledgling artiste. Blues and lots of Stax/Volt classics. Some as deliciously obvious as Sam & Dave's "I Thank You" and Albert King's "Born Under A Bad Sign", some as bad ass subtle as Anne Peebles' "I Can't Stand The Rain" and Otis Redding's "I've Got Dreams To Remember". And a few, outright surprising... How about an homage to the Isaac Hayes version of Dionne Warwick's immortal "Walk On By".

What is no surprise whatsoever is that Paul just flat out makes every cut his own... and all in one take, live with the band.

Sheeesh!

And the band... Mr. Rodgers is backed by many of the musicians who recorded these tracks in the first place and/or guys that toured with the original acts. As Paul himself exclaims below, "Oh man, the authenticity of the band!"

Given the opportunity to interview Paul, I decided that most of y'all could use a Paul Rodgers 101 course. So, we covered a lot of ground. My apologies to Queen fans, though. It's the one major project Paul's been involved in that we forgot to cover. I will say for myself that on paper Paul fronting Queen made little or no sense. In reality, as you can witness on DVD, it was an amazing fit. Partly due to the fact that Paul, who is not known for this much, is a truly multi-voiced singer. His famous gruff Otis-inspired style is just the one you hear on the radio. And each of Paul's voices is a monster.

Both Mick Jagger and Rod Stewart, two truly ego-less gents, are on record declaring Paul Rodgers as their all time favorite rock singer. Rock's George Jones.

Paul has founded and fronted bands he put together with an ex-Led Zep (Jimmy Page - The Firm) and an ex-Who (Kenney Jones - The Law).

Paul is currently working on a new album that returns him to his natural habitat, blistering bare bones rock songs with 1959 Les Pauls as his voice's foil, as it should be.

If his vocals on The Royal Sessions are any indication, this next album will be a scorcher.

For those in the know regarding electric guitars, I say... Paul Rodgers is the PAF of vocalists.

Okay, herrrrre's Paul!

Binky: "I realize that for a guy with your history, you have to get really bored answering questions about your old bands and music, but, Huffington Post readers would benefit from some history. I hope to try to inject some freshness into those tired subjects for you. So, are you ready, Paul?"

Paul: "Ohhh... I... am... READY!" [laughter]

Binky: "I want you to know that I saw you in Free, December 1970 at Carnegie Hall and you... ripped... my... brains out! Okay, but first, let's go all the way back. Rock's history is replete with stories of British band guys discovering non-BBC music, particularly blues and R&B, through all sort of serendipitous means. How did you, a young English kid in a small northern town, find this fantastic but unheralded American music?

Paul: "I'll get to your question. But, you know, it's funny, I clearly remember that Carnegie Hall gig, Binky. Back then, as now, it was very rare for a rock band to appear at Carnegie Hall. That was a typical Chris Blackwell touch."

Binky: "Wow, Chris booked the gig! Oh, wait, for our readers, Chris Blackwell was the founder of Island Records, a hugely influential and innovative guy and label. Single-handedly brought Reggae to the western world and signed an incredible amount of successful bands, all of whom had a special something above and beyond. And, your band, Free, was one of his signings."

Paul: "Exactly right. He really was very innovative in how you make music and where you make music. I learned a lot from Chris. Prior to Chris, you went into the studio, you did your time, and then you went home. With Chris, he built his own studio, and you could use that studio 24/7... just open-ended. This method... well, everyone immediately took it up, but, Chris was the first. He'd let the band in and the studio was wide open to them to create at their pace. I don't want to spend a lot of time on Chris but he was very important to us. Things I liked, things I didn't like. Typical for the day, Island helped themselves to our publishing and royalties [the rights to the songs... where most of the money is made in the music biz]."

Binky: "Oh man, again I'm hearing this! God, you bands all got ripped off, didn't you!"

Paul: "For many many years. It's only now that the law has changed and we might get those back. To answer you question, the reason I think there's always been such variety in my music is... Well, when I think about it, there was always a radio on in my house, always. And I was drawn to it. Someone like Sinatra and people I didn't have a clue about. This would've been in the early 1950s when I was about 5 or 6. I was absorbing it all. My mother said I used to dance to all this radio music when I was a young kid. I just sort of grew up with music always in the background like a soundtrack. And it really hit me hard when The Beatles came along, like so many people. That got me started digging back further to Chuck Berry... [Paul starts singing Chuck's "Around And Around"] 'Well, the joint was rocking', goin' 'round and 'round... and those doors flew back..." And, Binky, that line... 'those doors flew back', y'know, it really did something to me. The rebelliousness of it, the very idea that music transcends even the authority of the police... [laughter]. From there, I discovered Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker, B B King, all these amazing people."

Binky: "Let me make sure I got this right. You discovered these original guys from covers of their stuff done by The Beatles and Rolling Stones, the way I did?"

Paul: "You and I both wanted the real deal, yes!"

Binky: "A camp counselor the Summer of 1965 played me some Muddy Waters. It would be at least three more years before I started to even vaguely understand what I was listening to."

Paul: [chuckles] "Yeah. I was a 13 year old kid singing about heartbreak and all kinds of adult experiences that I had no genuine knowledge about. But, I did feel it. I can recall hearing the Rolling Stones' version of Muddy's "I Just Wanna Make Love To You" and thinking, okay, now that is different. It was not [sings] 'She loves you, yeah yeah yeah.' It was [Paul sings again] 'I don't want you to be no slave'! I mean, it was like, 'Where does THAT come from?!', y'know."

Binky: "The Stones, just by not wearing a uniform on their first album cover destroyed me, Paul. I get it! Moving forward in time... My folks took me to London in June, 1970. 'All Right Now' was the number one song in England. I literally heard it 5 or 6 times a day my entire 13 day stay. Every Wimpie bar, boutique, grocery shop, had it playing... just all day."

Paul: "Yeah, man, I remember it. Funny you mention Wimpie Bars. They were sort of our McDonald's, weren't they. We ate a lot of that."

Binky: "So, you guys are literally teenagers. You're in the studio. The four of you come up with this concoction, and maybe 90 days later, you probably can't escape it! Did you or anyone else have a clue? Did you look at each other and mutter, 'Holy shit! What have we come up with!' ever?"

Paul: "Wellll... You have to understand... with Free, we were teenagers, and ummm, there was a lot of raging hormones [laughter]. It was a mixture for me. I was really low sometimes. I had a wide range of emotions, so, my music really swung between them. One day, I'd be singing, 'Oh, I can't go on anymore... what's it all about?' And then, the next day, the song would be 'Oh it's so fine... it's all right now'. There was a wide range of mood swings in the music. And I soon realized when we were on stage, what people wanted to hear wasn't anything too dark and depressing for too long. You had to lighten it up, y'know. We had been doing Albert King's 'The Hunter' as we moved away from pure blues and started to try to write our own material. We wanted our entire set to be original music. This was how we'd become regarded as a serious band. But, 'The Hunter' was a song we could never lose because it had the right mood. [More singing] 'They call me the hunter, a pretty young girl like you is my only game...' So light and easy. So, okay, we can't drop that song, but, what we can also do is write one that's inspired by that song. With the same lightness of touch, lyrically. You know, pulling chicks, and Yay! Everything's cool. And that's where 'All Right Now' was born out of, really."

Binky: "I love that. I saw you play 'The Hunter' more than once. I don't want to go negative here, but, I think 'The Stealer', your follow up to 'All Right Now', is the greatest flop single of all time. I noticed right away back then that it had much more texture than the sparseness that was Free's trademark. I remember reading that you, Paul, were very proud of that song. Anything you wanna say about 'The Stealer' here?"

Paul: "Well, 'The Stealer' was one of the very first songs that all four of the band actually contributed to, actually writing it. I remember going from somebody's apartment to the studio and the guys were working it out and I had no lyrics for it. We were thinking in terms of how we follow up 'All Right Now'. You're right, there were some great atmospherics in that one. There were parts that were overdubbed as a mixture of instruments, harmonics on a guitar, piano... Gave it a very ethereal flavor. I sat and listened to it, inspired, and wrote out the lyrics. I knew what I was gonna sing, but, no one else did. The track is finished and everyone is waiting with bated breath to see what I've come up with. I sang, [yet more singing... a Paul Rodgers concert on my phone!] 'I went down to the center of town, and my feet weren't touchin' the ground... She stood on the corner... I'm the stealer..." Suddenly, someone yelled, 'Stop! We're recording it. That's IT!' I did it in one take [yep, most of Paul's vocals throughout his career are one take wonders]. Yeah, yeah, happy days, actually."

Binky: "Over the last 20 years or so, I have seen this probably more than 20 times. So many rock stars, when asked who their biggest influences were, rate Free in the same category as The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin... In your own analysis, why is it that we guys, guitarists, singers, heard what was so amazingly special about Free and why the public never quite got it past 'All Right Now'?"

Paul: "We always prided ourselves in being called an 'underground band', prior to 'All Right Now'. We could go almost anywhere in the UK and Europe and word-of-mouth would fill the place, just packed. We enjoyed that reputation. 'All Right Now' took the lid off that and we became a commercial entity. I don't think we were ever really comfortable with that. We wanted to sit back and continue to be underground, if you like. Be our own people and not be governed by commerciality. That was part of Free that I suspect musicians picked up on. Also, we managed ourselves. We knew what image we wanted. So, there wasn't a manager projecting his agenda on us. No 'you guys need to do this, and then position yourselves for this to that market or demo' or anything like that. We just did what we felt."

Binky: "Yes, a dedicated musician would pick up on that, no doubt. I did. I think it was also the sparseness of your arrangements. I know I learned about the space between the notes from Free. A whole generation of young musicians did, too."

Paul: "You know, a lot of people talk the good talk. They say they understand, but, when they cop to the moment, they cannot hold back. They practice and practice and know a lot of notes and they want you to know they know a lot of notes. But, Free really did understand the value of simplicity, allowing a space that the audience could step into. I was once in a car with Alexis Korner, a real father figure for me and the band. He was a great man, really. A true mentor, like your father in the music business. Anyway, while we drove, he said to me, 'There's music everywhere, Paul. You know that.' And I was like 'Acch!' No, Alexis said there was music in the wheels of a car, in the engine of a train, in the trees, there's music everywhere. And he taught me that sometimes it's what you don't play that's more important than what you do play. Well, I went away and chewed this over and finally did understand and it absorbed itself into my approach to music because... I mean, listen to people like Otis Redding or his drummer Al Jackson Jr. They didn't overdo it. They would take a breath and let you wait for it. You know, the thing about simplicity is it's not easy to achieve. To many, simplicity can mean repetitiveness and maybe even a lack of intelligence, those kind of things, but, simple yet unique is the key."

Binky: "One of the easiest things to do is write a crappy three-chord song, one of the hardest is writing a good one. One of my little sayings, Paul."

Paul: [laughing and applauding... Thankaverrrmuch, Paul] "Man, I know exactly what you mean. I've written a lot of shitty three-chord songs just to get to that one good one [lots of laughter].

Binky: "By the way, have you ever heard what Pete Townshend said about Alexis?"

Paul: "No, what'd he say?"

Binky: "Pete said, 'Alexis Korner should be carried around London in a sedan chair for the rest of his life for introducing the Rolling Stones to each other.' Good, huh."

Paul: "Oh man, that's beautiful!" [laughter]

Binky: "Let's discuss the Bad Company period. What it seemed to feel like, from the semi-informed outside, was that bassist Boz and guitarist Mick Ralphs from Mott the Hoople offered you somewhat comparable players but that came with some stability and maybe comfort after the volatility of Andy Fraser and Koss in Free. Am I off?"

Paul: "What happened was, I'd formed a band, a trio, after Free. I really wanted a bit of peace. I called the band Peace. I had no desire to be famous. I just wanted to make music. Peace wound up opening for Mott the Hoople. And that's where I met Mick. Mott was with Island Records, too. I'd seen Mick around the office, but, I didn't really know him. As we got to be friends, he was very frustrated because he had a lot of songs, 'Can't Get Enough Of Your Love' being one of them, and they just weren't right for Mott the Hoople. And we connected, basically. One thing led to another. We started to write songs together. We formed a band around that. We really believed in what we were doing, too. We took a long long time to find the right bass player. Boz came along, a fantastic bass player for me. He was also a lead singer and he understood where the lead singer is coming from. He was very very melodic. He wasn't a plodding bass player. His fretless bass work added a great dimension to the band."

Binky: "Ian McLagan was tapped as the organist for the Small Faces when he was in Boz People, the band that Boz sang lead for."

Paul: "You know, I actually didn't know that, Binky. I'm not surprised to hear it, though. Man, I love Ian McLagan!"

Binky: "My God, yes, a lovely guy. I interviewed him for Huffington Post a few months back. Your pal, Kenney Jones, who I interviewed a few week after Mac, was super friendly, too. Really forthcoming."

Paul: "Actually, I was rooting around in my cupboard the other day, actually, just yesterday, and I found a bunch of Steve Marriott live stuff and I put it on and MY GOD, that guy was unbelievable!"

Binky: "Paul, you're answering questions I haven't asked yet. I was gonna bring up Stevie. Totally agree with you on him. Let's get back to Bad Company and 'Can't Get Enough Of Your Love'. Your producer/co-conspirator on The Royal Sessions, Perry Margouleff, told that you played lead guitar on that track."

Paul: "Oh yeah, Mick and I played that together. We played it onstage together."

Binky: "Oh man, that's right. I remember now. Did you play any guitar on Free stuff?"

Paul: "Well, Kossoff played all those wicked solos [That's the word!]. I played some rhythm guitar here and there. And on 'Highway Song', I played some single note stuff, but, I would never have dreamed of taking over one of Koss's leads."

Binky: "This brings up the question... Why, as a thoroughly accomplished guitar player, and you ain't no dabbler, did you choose to stand at the microphone without one?"

Paul: "I must admit, I'm really more a bit of a dabbler. But, I did do the guitar solo in 'Radioactive' with The Firm."

Binky: "You're kidding!"

Paul: "A lot of people said, 'You had the balls to play lead guitar when you had Jimmy Page?!' It wasn't balls. I wanted to get the effect of radioactivity musically. I wanted it as an effect, y'know. I knew how to get it."

Binky: "Oh my God, I know the riff you're talking about! That lick is so sick and dark, Paul!"

Paul: "You know, that riff was taught to me by Alexis Korner. It's actually a finger exercise for guitarists. It's a funny one. Your fingers don't want to do it. It's really counterintuitive. But, back to my singing without an instrument, you probably know this yourself [Thank you very much for that, Paul], you can write a song on a piano, guitar, bass. When you show the band, okay, it goes like this, your instructions become part of the song... You can't stop playing, that's now part of the song. Like 'Runnin' In The Pack'... suddenly, I have to be playing piano. That's really how a lot of things happened. When I started life as a musician, I played bass. I used to take the bass off to sing Solomon Burke's 'Everybody Needs Somebody' [yeah, he sang this to me, too!] and you needed your hands to point to the audience during the 'You! You! You!' part. I discovered if I didn't play the bass, I could interact with the audience much more normally, y'know what I mean. I really don't play instruments often on stage. I prefer it that way."

Binky: "One of my most vivid memories of that Carnegie Hall show in 1970 was how you sort of acted out the lyrics, which usually would seem kinda music hall-ish, but, you had me mesmerized. I get why you wanted your whole body working for you."

Paul: "Yeah, it's a really natural thing. I don't practice it [laughter]. It just comes naturally. It's the idea of putting across the lyric, really."

Binky: "Changing gears to gear... You have been surrounded by vintage Gibsons and Fenders in every band you've ever been in. Do you collect, too?"

Paul: "Yeah, I do. I have a lot of different guitars. I currently love this composite acoustic made by Vintage, I think. Of course, this might be a wicked sin. I woulda thought, composite [not wood], this can't be good. But, this is a beautiful instrument. For awhile, I had Paul Kossoff's Les Paul. The 1958. And you know, it was an amazing instrument. You'd plug it into a Marshall stack and it would be giving off harmonics before you played it. And I had that for awhile, and you know, I finally went, I'm not worthy. It was just amazing. I had another Les Paul, with no provenance, if you like. This guitar had been under someone's bed and when you opened it up, the Lifton case was still bright pink inside. I mean, really really pink. It was brand new, y'know. It was another '58. It had a similar way of singing, if you like, but, it was different."

Binky: "Oh yeah, those 1950s Les Pauls are very individual, very different from each other. Our pal, Perry, had me out to his studio last weekend and I had the privilege of playing my own 1959 Les Paul through a British Wallace amplifier. I'd never even heard of it. Good Lord! I'd never heard my guitar sound like that before!"

Paul: "That's so interesting, Binky. I went to see Perry and I said, 'Oh, you have a Wallace.' His head swung 'round. He said, 'You know about these?!' I said, 'Oh yeah, Koss used to have one. Used it a lot in the studio.' and Perry was very impressed."

Binky: "Back to songwriting... I love a bunch of your 'deep cuts'. My own band sometimes covers 'Deal With The Preacher' and 'Good Lovin' Gone Bad'. My stealth favorite of yours is 'Love Me Somebody'."

Paul: "Well, thank you, Binky. Yes, that is a great deep cut. And I think there's an element of truth in it for everybody. Those school days of first loves and first heartbreaks, you know, it stays with you."

Binky: "I'd like to get some quick thoughts from you about The Firm, with Jimmy Page."

Paul: "Well, The Firm... I knew Jimmy, of course. I'd just left Bad Company to get off the road and spend time with my family. And around the same time, we lost John Bonham. I was working on some music and Jimmy started coming 'round the studio, kind of at loose ends. He hadn't played his guitar for quite some time. I told him that we should just jam. So, we did and soon we were writing songs. I find that's usually the nucleus of a band. You write a batch of songs and then you put a band around those songs. It has often happened that way for me. So, Jimmy and I formed a band and took it out on the road. Now, I didn't really want to go on the road, and Jimmy really wanted to go on the road. So, we hit a compromise. We'd two albums and tour each and then that would be it. Jimmy remains a very great friend. He still comes to shows, we stay in touch."

Binky: "Well, I always thought Jimmy Page signed Bad Company to Led Zep's label, Swan Song, no?"

Paul: "Ahhh, the way Swan Song happened... I'd formed Bad Company and I wanted a proper manager. Free had managed themselves, as I said, and this time I wanted a really top manager. Led Zeppelin was undoubtedly the biggest band in the world at the time. I simply called their manager, Peter Grant. As it happened, they were forming Swan Song. Peter was interested in me. I told him that I come with a band called Bad Company, a name it turned out Peter was not keen on. But, he came to see a rehearsal and off we went."

Binky: "So, you were in a band with a Zep and, with The Law, featuring Kenney Jones on drums, you'd formed a band with a Who. Look at you go, Paul. By the way, "Layin' Down The Law" by The Law is one of your all time great 'lost tracks'. A superb production and performance."

Paul: "Why, thank you, Binky, for even noticing!" [laughter]

Binky: "Okay, let's get to your New One, The Royal Sessions. It very obvious why you did this record. Your vocals just exude a deep passion and love for the Stax/Volt era's music of the 1960s, a true labor of love. You wind up recording with most of the crew that performed on the original tracks in the original studio. How did this happen?"

Paul: "Well... how did this happen? Whew! It was a bit of magic, really. It had been in the works, in the back of my mind for many many years. It was always one of those things I was going to get to in the future. Perry Margouleff was really instrumental in nudging me towards... well, really, kicking me up the butt to do this. And one day, he called me from Royal Studios in Memphis and said, "Paul, you wouldn't believe it, but, this studio is still here. I spoke to the owner and he can get you all those beautiful session legends to come play. You want to come down for say three days and see how you feel? And, man, I jumped on a plane, went down there, and was just a beautiful thing. The three days was just so productive. Anything I suggested, the guys were like 'Ooo, couple of seconds... ' and they had it in the bag."

Binky: "I should imagine! One of the first things that struck me when I got The Royal Sessions CD was that, while most of the classics you chose to cover made complete dovetail sense to me, some of your choices were really unexpected. I mean, your take on Isaac Hayes' take on the Dionne Warwick immortal 'Walk On By'. Before you answer that, I don't know if it's just your passion for the material and/or Perry's up-butt kicking, but, your vocals in this album are really at the zenith of your chops, Paul. Some stunning takes."

Paul: "All but the one you've just brought up were done totally live, one take, me singing with the band playing."

Binky: "Boi-oi-oi-oing!" [laughter]

Paul: "And thanks so much. I really appreciate it, Binky. To answer you, Perry really set up the situation in the best possible way, created the best possible atmosphere to enable everyone to play their absolute best. It was very much a team effort. The first tune we did was "That's How Strong My Love Is". I started to sing [sings] 'If I was the sky where up there...' and, oh man, the authenticity of the band comin' through the cans [headphones]... Wow!"

Binky: "The reverence and passion you give this music on The Royal Sessions, it's like this is your personal gospel music. Is that accurate?"

Paul: "You know, you raise a good point. I think of myself as spiritual, although not religious. And there's just so much spirit in this music."

Binky: "I know you're already at work on a new album. What's on the agenda now regarding The Royal Sessions album?"

Paul: "All the studio members, everyone on the album, is coming to London next month for a show we're doing at Royal Albert Hall. And they are all coming because they want to. It makes me so proud. And all the profits from the show will go to Willows, a homeless human and animal rescue organization in London. I do love animals. They are such powerful little spirits."

Binky: "Oh, you are preaching to the choir. I love my rescued kittycat boy, Monte. Before we go, I'd like to throw just a few names at you, almost like a word association game. Just get an instant reaction from you on some other singers, okay."

Paul: "Sure."

Binky: "Okay, here we go... Sam Cooke."

Paul: "Oh man, Sam was awesome, beautiful, smooth. Sam was Rod Stewart's guy. Otis Redding was my man."

Binky: "Steve Marriott... you raved earlier. Anything to add?"

Paul: "Steve was a great great singer. I met him when Free toured with The Who, Small Faces, Crazy World of Arthur Brown. There's a line up for ya! Free was opening the show. And man, I loved Stevie, just a fantastic singer. But, he pissed off everyone around him. Really sad, but, a great singer."

Binky: "I've heard tell... Al Green."

Paul: "Oh, Al Green... a different approach to soul music. Much more mellow. To be honest, Al Green just never got me... or I didn't get him. What can I say, I'm an Otis Redding man."

Binky: "Mick Jagger, Paul."

Paul: "Wow! Mick Jagger is just amazing, isn't he. Come on, you just have to hand it to him, doncha. He also wrote some great great lyrics. Look, The Rolling Stones introduced me to the blues. I mean... Hey, remember that obscure one they did, 'Off The Hook'? [Paul sings the first verse] Just great stuff. Ooo, and remember that one that went, 'Lord, I swear the perfume you wear was made out of turnip greens and every time I kiss you girl, it tastes like pork 'n' beans'... [Paul starts cackling]. God, those great old blues lines... Man, I love the Stones."

Binky: "Yes, we do! Robert Plant"

Paul: "Robert. Robert. [Paul seems momentarily lost in a happy happy memory] Robert is a wonderful guy. Hey, and he's a great singer. God, what can I say about Robert? You know, all these years later, he's still trying to break the mold. Actually, the first time I met Robert was in the Railway Tavern in Birmingham, way up in the north of England. And, are you ready? We were with Alexis Korner. Him again! And this was before Robert joined up with Led Zeppelin. He and I were talking and he told me he'd been offered a gig with a band with a guy called Jimmy Page. Robert explained, 'He's a big session player in London and everybody's talkin' about him. He's offering me 30 quid a week or a percentage. Do ya think I should go down?' I said, "Definitely. And... Take the percentage. The next thing I heard was it was Led Zeppelin and they were just everywhere. I will tell you, The Jeff Beck Group definitely influenced Led Zeppelin. Jeff Beck's 'Truth' album? It's fledgling Zeppelin. But, wow, Zep did a great job of it."

Binky: "Agree wholeheartedly. Okay, The Who's Roger Daltrey..."

Paul: "Oh, I love Roger. He's a really great guy. As I said, we toured with The Who, so, we spent a lot of time together. Man, I remember The Who's poster as a kid. It was a stark black and white silhouette of a guy with a guitar, arm up in the air, And underneath it, it just said WHO? [a generic marketing version of the 'Maximum R&B' poster?] They blanketed England with that poster. The Who just everywhere! Not to step on Roger, but, I'd like to mention Amy Winehouse. Man, losing her just bummed the shit out of me. She was a flame. And, she had a fabulous band."

Binky: "My wife and I love Amy's singing, too. Really really sad. The damn legal stuff, too."

Paul: "Just a pure artist."

Binky: "Okay, lastly... John, Paul, George, and Ringo."

Paul: "Well, with a band name like that, they're never gonna be famous."

The Royal Sessions... Available here... http://paulrodgers.com/release/the-royal-sessions/