An Interview with Tony Stevens of Savoy Brown & Foghat

All images courtesy of Tony Stevens


By Andrew Daly
andrew@vinylwriter.com

All images courtesy of Tony Stevens

I was recently joined by veteran four-stringer Tony Stevens for a chat where, among other things, we touch on the formation of two of blues-rock’s most seminal acts in Savoy Brown and Foghat, the lifecycle of Midnight Flyer, Foghat’s 90s and early 2000s reunion, what’s next for Slow Ride, and a whole lot more.

If you would like to learn more about Tony Stevens, the link to his webpage is here. Once you’ve done that, dive into this interview with Tony. Cheers.

Andrew:
Tony, thank you for taking the time here with me. Let’s kick off with Savoy Brown. How did you first meet Kim Simmons?

Tony:
There was an ad in a music paper. It said they needed a bass guitarist, so I changed from lead guitar to bass. I left my work to go to the audition, went to the audition, and nailed it. I got the job over ten other bass players, and then was told, “You’ve got the job. Can you learn the songs? We’re playing tonight.” [Laughs]. I still remember throwing up before the show from my nerves as I had only joined them five hours previously that day.

Andrew:
The initial lineup of Savoy Brown which also included Dave Pevertte and Roger Earl was formidable. Walk me through the recording of Blue Matter. What do you recall regarding the sessions?

Tony:
Well, the live side of Blue Matter was sung by Dave Peverett as Chris Youlden never turned up. The studio side was great, as Chris was a great singer and songwriter. We had brass and strings on a lot of the tracks, which in retrospect, was something I thought was really great.

Andrew:
Savoy Brown’s fourth album, Looking In, was perhaps its greatest success, but Kim folded the band after the supporting tour. What led to the fracture?

Tony:
Chris had left the band. Dave was singing, but I think one of the successes was that Dave and I were allowed to write songs. I had “Poor Girl” and “Leaving Again.” Kim actually did not fold the band, the rest of us got fed up, and so the three of us left at the end of 1970 to form Foghat.

All images courtesy of Tony Stevens

Andrew:
As you’ve just alluded to, from the ashes of Savoy Brown rose Foghat. Walk me through the band’s inception.

Tony:
At first, it was just the three of us, but we needed a guitarist. So, we auditioned for another guitarist and got Rod [Price]. He was a great slide player and he worked in a wine shop, which made the rehearsals very relaxed. [Laughs].

Andrew:
In its formative years, Foghat maintained a breakneck pace while touring on the back of its first four albums, which were all well received. Still, you left Foghat in 1975. What went into that decision? Do you have any regrets given the commercial success which followed for the band?

Tony:
Honestly, it was too many tours. We had a great following but there wasn’t any time allowed for us to recover. But the main reason I went is they didn’t want me anymore. I was fed up with continually touring America and, when Rock and Roll Outlaws didn’t go gold as Energized did, it was time to take the band to Europe, Asia, Japan, etc., instead of saturating the American market with too many tours, but I was burnt out and needed a break.

I have no regrets as I was in a very big hit television show and had a hit album, namely Rock Follies. It was first in all the charts. Then Nobody’s Business, where we featured the band in Ibiza and recorded our album in Nice, in the French Alps.

All images courtesy of Tony Stevens

Andrew:
Also of note, you launched Midnight Flyer in the late 70s under Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song label. The band had trouble getting off the ground. In your estimation, what kept things from moving forward

Tony:
Well, with Midnight Flyer, it could have been great. I got together with Maggie Bell, and we formed the band, and we were signed by Swan Song, and managed by Peter Grant, Led Zeppelin’s manager. The death of John Bonham really threw Swan song into a disarray. In the wake of all that, Peter sent us out with Bob Seger and then we toured with ACϟDC in America, but we simply couldn’t launch with the way Swan Song was. Had we been a few years earlier, before Bonzo died, it might have been a different story.

Andrew:
Moving forward a bit now, walk me through the 1993 reunion of Foghat, which featured the original four members. How did the conversations begin?

Tony:
I got a phone call asking would I be interested in getting back with the other lads as Rick Ruben wanted the original band to make an album. The whole thing nearly folded on the first night as Roger Earl played so badly we couldn’t stand it. He had come in late and didn’t know any of the breaks. It was so bad that Rod and Dave came into my room and said, “That’s it, we can’t play with Roger anymore.” Now, I had just arrived in the U.S., I thought, “Shit. This can’t be how this ends. Not this quickly.” So, I said, “Let me take Roger into the studio and work with him until the songs are playable.” And that’s what I did.

Andrew:
What memories do you have regarding Return of the Boogie Men and its supporting tour? My understanding is Rod Price had a difficult time. Peel back the onion on that for me.

Tony:
With the album, I don’t have many memories, as it wasn’t that memorable. [Laughs]. We recorded in L.A. with Nick Jameson as producer. As for the tour, it was nice having new stuff to play alongside the classics. It was tough for Rod, as he was overweight and was on medication, of which was found that it was the wrong combination. He slept nearly all day and wasn’t happy on stage. It was apparent to all the members, mainly Dave.

All images courtesy of Tony Stevens

Andrew:
In 2000 we lost Dave Peverette. Speak on his final days with Foghat, your memories of him, and his enduring legacy.

Tony:
Dave was a soldier. He went through six months of chemo, and lost one hundred pounds, but wanted to come back and do what turned out to be his last tour. The Millenium Tour in 1999, in Houston Texas, was his last, but I would say one of his best tours. He was amazing on stage. He is still missed very much by me.

Andrew:
You and Roger Earl kept Foghat going until your departure in 2005. What led to the final fracture?

Tony:
Sadly, it was greed and ego. As always seems to be the case, with Foghat at least, those were the main reasons for the splits. There were partners that wanted their man to be more featured, which was stupid in this case.

Andrew:
What are your thoughts on where Foghat stands today? Is there a chance we see you with Foghat again?

Tony:
It seems that they are doing well. They have another new singer and bass player. No, to the last bit of your question. The only way I would be in Foghat again is if it were the real Foghat again, as I did start the band as well, regardless of what other seem to think, and say.

All images courtesy of Tony Stevens

Andrew:
As for Kim Simmonds, where does your relationship stand, and would you consider a reunion?

Tony:
Kim joined Slow Ride on stage in Canada a few years back. He was great and the version of “Louisiana Blues” with the three guitars was mind-blowing. I would happily play with Kim again if asked.

Andrew:
Last one. You’ve been active with Slow Ride on and off. What’s next for you, Tony?

Tony:
I have some lovely people that want to back a concert namely, An Evening with Tony Stevens. This would feature my guitarist Tommy Hall’s band, Mr. Nice Guy, as well as my band. It’ll be a lot of fun, as I will be singing from my own album, and some Foghat songs too. Then, I will talk to the audience with all and everything, taking questions and giving answers, Then feature some guest artists after a short break. It’s onwards and upwards, my friend.

All images courtesy of Tony Stevens

Interested in learning more about the music of Savoy Brown & Foghat? Hit the link below:

Be sure to check out the full catalog of VWMusic Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interviews

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

Inspired by the likes of Hunter S. Thompson, Lester Bangs, and Eddie Trunk, coupled with an immense passion for music, and a disposition for writing, freelance journalist Andrew Daly moved to found VWMusic in 2019. Over time, VWMusic has grown into a bustling music outlet harboring a staff who further the cause of sharing both a love of music and the art of journalism with the world through articles, interviews, and more. In addition to running VWMusic, Andrew is also an accomplished freelance journalist, currently writing for Copper Magazine, as well as a drummer, and lover of all things guitar.
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