When you think of British drummers from the seventies, who's the first one that you would guess currently sits on the NARAS board (the Grammy Awards) ? It sure as hell better be Simon Frederick St.George Kirke, otherwise known as Simon Kirke. This legendary percussionist, who since 1968, has kept the rhythm in Free, Bad Company, and Wildfire, even served honorably during three tours with Ringo Starr's All Starr band. He's an instructor, a songwriter, and a father. And, he's worked with everyone from Wilson Picket to Ray Charles, not to mention provided guidance to the dreamers attending the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp. He even contributed the vocals to one of my favorite overlooked gems of the 1990's, the song '100 Miles' off Bad Company's 'Holy Water' album. As Bad Co prepares to take their Movin' On 2010 Tour to Japan for the first time in three decades, Simon was kind enough to respond about life in England, playing with Paul Rodgers, and the state of modern music.
We attended a recent viewing of the VH1 special from 2008. You appear healthy, fit, and excited to play music. How has the emotion of being on stage evolved since the early days of Bad Co ?
Nothing has really changed over the years regarding playing onstage..I have learned how to pace myself better now...I stretch before a show, play on my practice pad a bit to warm up...I still get excited playing onstage. I get nervous if we've included a new song in the set. I've started doing solo shows and even though the number of people are a fraction of a Bad Company crowd I get butterflies....even more so as I don't have a kit in front of me... I gave up drinking and drugging 6 years ago. As Lowell George so eloquently put it: I was making checks with my mind that my body couldn't cash. I also took up yoga and work out most days.
What do you love about England ?
I love the charm and manners of the general population, the knowledge and courtesy of the London cabbie, the stoicism of the average Brit......give 'em a cup of hot sweet tea and they can get through anything....
What is your opinion of popular music in 2010 ?
The state of pop music in 2010 I think is pretty good ..there are some good new artists out there...Taylor Swift, Adam Lambert...... It's a tough time for new bands to break right now with the dire state of the record business...companies have merged or gone bust the Internet rules the airwaves and downloading and piracy are still rife.
Do you still see the same amount of groupies on the road as you did in 1976 ?
Oh well that part of my life no longer exists.....most of the ladies from that era are now more 'droopies' than groupies...but my goodness what stories they could tell their grand kids!
Are there ever moments where you want to strangle Paul Rodgers ?
Paul has mellowed into a wise and warm person...a pleasure to be around...and is singing better than ever.
Do you ever get sick of playing 'Rock and Roll Fantasy' night after night ?
Rock and Roll Fantasy is a great song and as such is a joy to play most nights...as long as the tempo is right and that is down to me.
Are there moments out on the road where people recognize you when you're just trying to get a bite to eat ? Describe the best and worst ?
It happens sometimes...I get recognized and someone wants an autograph. That's OK as long as they come prepared...that is, possessing a Sharpie and a photo or piece of paper ready to go.
The worst are the people who want to have their photo taken with you and they can't get the bloody camera to work....either the batteries (are) dead or the lens cap is still on and you are standing there with a smile fixed on your face holding onto a sweaty bloke while the girlfriend flaps about like a fish on a river bank...sheer murder!!