As rock stars age, they often get asked how soon they'll retire. And the question can become a bit irritating.
No less irritating when posed by a bandmate, according to Foghat founding member Roger Earl.
"Our singer, Charlie, said to me, 'So do you ever think about retiring, Rog?" the 68-year-old drummer said. "And I looked at him and said, 'Why the (expletive) would I want to do that?'"
Roger Earl has been performing with Foghat since he helped found the band 43 years ago.
Earl spoke to the Mirror recently in a phone interview from his home in Long Island, N.Y. He and Foghat will be coming to central Pennsylvania to headline night two of the Thunder in the Valley motorcycle rally on June 27.
The free concert will be presented at 10 p.m. on the event's Jagermeister stage, at the train station venue.
The gig is one of 50 to 65 shows Foghat does each year, Earl said. But the touring is one of the best parts to Earl.
If you go
When: 10 p.m. June 27
Where: Jagermeister stage, Thunder in the Valley motorcycle rally, downtown Johnstown
Admission: Free, but a "premiere" area will be available for $10 per person
More information: visitjohnstownpa. com/thunderinthevalley
"Life is good," he said. "We do major rock festivals, casinos, some small festivals, it's great. ...
"We're going to roll til we're old and rock til we drop."
Foghat was formed in London, England, in 1971 by Earl and "Lonesome" Dave Peverett, who had just left the blues rock band Savoy Brown. The pair teamed up with fellow Londoners Tony Stevens on bass and slide guitar specialist Rod Price to form a new blues/boogie rock band that broke out with a 1972 cover of the blues song "I Just Want to Make Love to You" on their self-titled debut album. The song was their first hit and is still played heavily on classic rock stations and can be heard in movies like "Dazed and Confused" and "Halloween II."
The group had mild success until the 1975 release of their fifth album, "Fool for the City." The record went platinum and contained Foghat's signature song, "Slow Ride." It has become a landmark song of the 1970s, appearing prominently in "Dazed and Confused" and other films based in the decade. It's also been featured in video games like "Guitar Hero III" and "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas." "Fool for the City" - the memorable album cover of which features Earl fishing in a New York City manhole - also had a hit with the title track.
Between 1971 and 1980, Foghat had nine singles reach the Billboard Hot 100. According to Earl, the group's success had a lot to do with its simple approach to rock.
"Anything with more than three chords has to be viewed with some suspicsion," he explained with a laugh.
To prove his point, he told a story about the recording of the "Fool for the City" album.
"When we were doing the 'Fool for the City' album, it was the first time the band had taken any real time to record," Earl said. "We were working on 'Fool for the City,' and I said to Rod Price, 'Hey, Rod, how many chords does 'Fool for the City' have?' He knew what I was getting at and he said, 'Look, Rog, it's only three chords. ... There's a few passing chords, but they don't matter.'"
Foghat had some membership turnover - Price was replaced by Erik Cartwright and bassist Craig MacGregor had two stints in the group - before losing its major label deal and parting ways in 1984. Earl, Cartwright and MacGregor reformed the band in 1986, touring with a series of new lead singers until the original lineup reunited in 1993. (Peverett had been touring for several years with his own version of the band, called Lonesome Dave's Foghat, prior to the reunion.)
That original group toured until Price's retirement in 1999, followed by Peverett's death from cancer in 2000. Today, the group consists of Bryan Bassett - a former member of Molly Hatchet and Peverett's version of Foghat - on lead guitar, former Ted Nugent singer Charlie Huhn on vocals and guitar, MacGregor on bass and, of course, Earl on drums.
According to Earl, the band knows each other very well by now: "In some ways, the band now has now been together longer than the original group. Someone pointed that out the other day and I said, 'I never thought of it that way before.'"
And no one takes the band's lasting success for granted.
"Everybody in the band are pretty great players," he said. "We take it pretty seriously, there's no drinking or anything before the show. Do whatever you want after the show, but we sort of live for that hour, hour and a half each night."
The Thunder in the Valley crowd is also anxious for that "hour, hour and a half" - although, technically, Foghat is scheduled to perform for two hours during the rally. The show is very anticipated, said Jayne Korenoski, director of advertising and sales for the Johnstown & Cambria County Convention & Bureau and entertainment coordinator for Thunder in the Valley
"It's pretty incredible, because I've noticed that the age range of people who are coming - it goes from people in their 60s to young people. ... I think that younger people recognize them, as well," she said.
This is the 17th year of the festival, which features live music on four stages throughout downtown Johnstown.
"We have a lot of great acts," Korenoski said. "Jasmine Cain, she's a real rocker. She's got a three-piece band and she plays at a lot of the major rallies. And Mustang Sally, they're an all-girl country band.
"Over the entire four days, my stages are packed - probably at least 40-45 acts over the four stages."
She said the four days of the rally are expected to draw between 200,000 and 250,000 people. The Foghat show is looking to be a big draw.
"I know last year with (2013 headliner) Molly Hatchet, we never, ever anticipated the crowd," Korenoski said. "And this year, the buzz is just really, really huge about Foghat."
And Earl wouldn't have it any other way. He says the group, who recently put out the live DVD, "Foghat: Live in St. Pete," tries to put out some kind of new content each year for their loyal fanbase. The group is currently recording a new album of original material for release some time next year.
"I think we'll always be recording, but I don't know if we'll be doing any more DVDs," Earl said. "I don't know if anybody wants to be watching a bunch of 70-year-olds playing. But you never know. Never say never."
And as for retirement? He's not planning it, but he admits to slowing down a bit.
"We just celebrated another birthday for me," Earl said. "This one only lasted three days."
Mirror Staff Writer Keith Frederick is at 946-7466.