The Foghat Chronicles

What began as a simple joke posting to my website blossoms into a strange correspondence with three members of the 70s band Foghat.

It started with this:

foolforthecity.jpgBlue Note Presents The Foghat Summit
New Silver Platinum Anthology includes new essays, photographs, bonus tracks, alternate takes, and every single piece of unreleased material.

One of the most baffling things about the boogie-blues sub-genre, is that despite its essentially banal profile, beauty continues to exist within these parameters. Perhaps it’s as so many thinkers have said, that it is because of the banality, or call it adversity, that such beauty does exist. In the case of Foghat, the testosterone freight train of repetition also pulls an emotional caboose of raw vulnerability. The listener often is caught between tapping a toe or wiping an eye. Selected by scholars and historians, this definitive 10-CD anthology of recordings provides not only a vast cultural gift, but also a window to one of the world’s greatest musical partnerships.

I was 15 when I first heard Foghat, a formative moment that altered the way I thought and listened, destroying one attitude while inspiring another. I was a snob. I had been entertaining the notions of Head East, REO Speedwagon, Kansas, and other regional giants of the 1970s American musical experience. But like many of our generation, I hungered for a larger, more elusive truth. Something out there must matter. Where could I find it? “In Denver, next weekend,” advised an associate. “We can take my mom’s wagon.”

McNichols Arena wasn’t a nightclub. It was a sports stadium. That night, it might has well have been the Parthenon. Once inside, a universe opened up. The cathedral belonged to Foghat. By the power of their passion, I was led into the most exciting scene since the eponymous debut of Black Oak Arkansas. Like their kindred countrymen the Beatles and the Stones, this quartet of young men from England would transform an ordinary night into a magical evening.

“Lonesome” Dave Peverett was chief magician, his primary instrument of artistry the Gibson Les Paul. Still in his early twenties, clad in lambchop sideburns and white bell-bottoms, he played with the maturity of a seasoned pro, and sang with the patient wisdom of a master. Rod “The Bottle” Price’s slide guitar was full-bodied and robust, like a fine claret, yet also tasteful and beguiling. Roger Earl, the polished formalist of the group, alternately caressed and taunted his drums with lyrical pointillism. Bassist Craig MacGregor added constancy and strength, transforming his fretboard into a left-handed playpen of boogie.

I felt a satisfying boisterousness, an infinite certainty at the center of their souls, as their instruments bestowed an enthusiasm that has stayed with me for 20 years. That night, after treasuring and absorbing this music, I purchased a T-shirt with which to begin my Foghat memorabilia collection. The group’s willingness to readily pay homage to its mentors was apparent when you held the shirt up to a light. Clearly legible through the band’s logo were the words, “Stills-Young Band: Long May You Run.”

In this collection, a bonanza awaits the listener. If you have heard Charles Mingus piano solos, or Beethoven’s cello arrangements for the King of Prussia, then you might be prepared for the kind of feeling that “Fool for the City” carries, both in a live context and in these ten unissued studio versions. All six alternate takes of “My Babe” crackle with the rapture of romantic bliss. An acoustic demo of “Rock and Roll Outlaws,” including an impromptu E-string replacement sequence, transports Don Quixote to an even greater spiritual orbit.

Chances are you’ve revisited Foghat before, and are wondering why you’re holding another re-issue. One reason is a recent discovery of archival tapes in a janitor’s closet at Bearsville Records. Aficionados may now enjoy the choicest of rarities, from radio appearances to reluctant groupie interviews and terse booking cancellation conversations. Another reason is the secret 1998 “Cruise Ship Rehearsals,” complete with an unanticipated grounding buzz. Yet another reason is the sublime a cappella version of James Brown’s “Lickin’ Stick,” from a birthday party for promoter Don Kirschner aboard the band’s Lear Jet. The entirety of Disc Seven, which treats fans to an 63-minute take of “Slow Ride” during a Michigan hailstorm, has remained unheard until now.

Earlier digitally remastered collections have sounded thin and brittle. This reissue was meticulously processed through a belt-driven BSR turntable, Audio-Technics cartridge/stylus, and Marantz flywheel-tuner/receiver powering 15 watts RMS per channel. Remixing was faithfully completed on an all-tube 4-track Sonic-Lux machine in the kitchen of legendary engineer Rudy Van Gelder, bumping the signal back down to monaural, and then resplitting the instruments into two separate stereo tracks, retaining original R.I.A.A. high frequency roll-off characteristics. Such reverse-engineering technique yields a full analog sound complete with needle skips, tone-arm wow and flutter, and resident amplifier hum. The drums now sound warm and thundrous through the right channel, guitars full and emotive on the left, with harp and vocals presiding center stage. Each song resonates with the true clarity in which it was originally heard, and exactly how Foghat had intended.

A professor once intoned that it would take two hundred years to figure out the complete message of Ellington. The same is surely true of Foghat. We may never decipher them, but the mystery is well worth the wait.

Okay, pretty silly. Just something for fun. It sits on my website for over a year. I suddenly then receive this note:

Foghat Reply #1

Date:Fri, 04 Jan 2002 19:51:11 -0500
Subject: Foghat article
From:Michael McConnell

My name is Michael McConnell and I represent the estate of Dave Peverett. I’m writing you regarding your article at your site that references a pending Foghat release, I was wondering if you could please furnish me with information on this. I have contacted Rhino, and as they hold all the US licenses for any Bearsville era releases I thought they might be intending to release this, but they have’nt any knowlege of this either. I would like to know who the label is and any contact information you could provide. I can be reached via e-mail or I can be phoned at 212-XXX-XXXX. Any information you can provide would be much appreciated.

Thank you,
Michael McConnell

(Astonishing, I thought. How could he possibly believe it was real? I answered with an explanation that the liner notes were just a joke. No response. I post his letter to my website, along with the phony liner notes.)
Two years go by, and then I receive a note from the former bass player of Foghat:

Foghat Reply #2

Date: Wed, 22 Sep 2004 21:28:00 EDT
Subject: Thanks for the write up

Dear Jack:

I came across your web site tonight and read your review. Thanks for the nice comments in appreciation for what we’ve done.

And always remember, gonna boogie for the doctor, gonna boogie for the nurse, gonna keep on boogin’ till they throw me in a hearse.

Best to you-
Craig MacGregor

(I couldn’t tell—did he believe it was real also? At least he seems to have a sense of humor.)
Two days later, an article I wrote about current rock bands appears in Southwest Airlines magazine. I mention the band Foghat in passing. The exact quote, “Foghat has petered out entirely, some would even say thankfully,” is based on the band’s website, which says they’ve retired, and thanks the fans for all the years. It turns out that a reconstituted version of the band (with original drummer and logo) is flying Southwest that week, and sees the article. Which leads to an angry note from the band’s manager (also the drummer’s wife):

Foghat Reply #3

From: Linda Arcello-Earl
Date: Fri, 24 Sep 2004 13:00:55 -0400

Hi Jack,

Just wanted to respond to your quote in Spirit Magazine of March 2004….Foghat has petered out, some would even say thankfully….

I represent the band, and am also married to Roger Earl. We read it on the plane while on our CURRENT tour, while promoting our CURRENT CD ‘FAMILY JOULES‘.


If you would like a copy of our Press kit, which includes our current CD and a sampler DVD, I would be happy to send it to you. Our current website is

We did not ‘peter out’ after the death of Lonesome Dave in 2000, and still have quite a few fans out there that are enjoying our shows. FYI we did Sweden Rock this year to 25,000 people and it rocked, and we did a bunch of dates in Canada with Alice Cooper.

Just wanted to set the record straight, as misinformation can be damaging to a bunch of guys that have worked their asses off and enjoyed playing basic rock n roll music, AND brought enjoyment to millions of fans.

Linda Arcello-Earl

East Setauket, NY

(I answered, thanked her for the note, and mentioned hers was the second Foghat-related email I received that week. I also included the original phony liner notes and the first reply letter.)
Which led to:

Foghat Reply #4

From: Linda Arcello-Earl
Date: Sun, 26 Sep 2004 14:25:16 -0400
To: Jack Boulware

Your article was very funny and well-written. Roger and I just read it. Interesting that Michael McConnell thought the ‘release’ was serious. You write very well…why don’t you give me your address and I’ll send you a copy of ‘Family Joules’. I’d be curious to hear your comments.

Linda Arcello-Earl

(I send her my address. Who knows where this is going?)
A few days later, yet another email, accidentally cc’d to me:

Foghat Reply #5

From: Linda Arcello-Earl
Date: Wed, 29 Sep 2004 19:26:39 -0400
To: Jack Boulware

Also please send a Press Kit and CD to this guy. No DVD and please put the Goldmine article first on the left side for him….and all of the kits in the future.

Thanks honey.

(No CD or press kit arrives. To this day I have never received any Foghat-related material in the mail.)
Two weeks later, the former bass player checks in once more:

Foghat Reply #6

Date: Sun, 10 Oct 2004 20:32:47 EDT
Subject: Re: Thanks for the write up


Yes, I talk to Roger from time to time and I’m putting something together now to go and play and have some fun. If your ever in the Phili area, drop me a line.
Thanks and take care-
Craig MacGregor
Part of me thinks all this sudden camaderie is a golden opportunity. The door is wide open for me to become the first chronicler of the Foghat dynasty. I could write the official band biography, interview all the members, produce the documentary. Write the liner notes for real, man. Crack it wide open. Tell the full story, A to Z. Okay Foghat, it’s your move.