Paul Rodgers, best known as the lead singer of Free and Bad Company, has a routine when it comes to performing at the top of his game. And Mick Jagger and David Bowie wanted to participate.
“The only secret I learned and told Mick and David about Paul was that before and after the show he gargled with just distilled water and tree oil …like 10 little drops of tea tree oil in an eight-ounce glass,” guitarist Reeves Gabrels told UCR in an exclusive interview.
The widely traveled Gabrels, now a member of The Cure, toured with Rodgers in the early 90s. He also worked with Bowie in Tin Machine from 1988 to 1992, and with the Rolling Stones frontman in the early 2000s.
Gabrels was first approached to be part of a larger touring lineup in support of Muddy Water Blues, Rodgers’ 1993 Grammy-nominated tribute album. In the end, however, they decided to cut it all down. “Bad Company and Free were both trios with a singer,” Gabrels tried to remind Rodgers. ” So what’s the problem ? Why do you need two guitarists? »
Gabrels was brought in with no rehearsal time, but felt right at home playing the music he grew up with. “They had changed some of the material, but they had added more things of Finally freewhich was my first Free record when I was learning to play guitar – so I knew all those songs.”
Rodgers often linked his love of acts like Muddy Waters to the Stones and also held a special regard for Bowie.
“Mick Jagger is just amazing, isn’t he? Come on, you just have to give it to him,” Rodgers told the Huffington Post in 2014. “He also wrote great lyrics. Look, the Rolling Stones introduced me to the blues.”
When Bowie died in 2016, Rodgers described him as “such a unique and special musician and person” in a Facebook tribute post. “I have met David Bowie several times over the years and he has always been a kind and caring gentleman. I liked him very much.”
As for Rodgers’ tea tree oil, Reeves told UCR that “it’s an Aboriginal thing for healing…and it’s what he would use on his throat before and after – and he sang better on stage than I’ve ever heard him recorded anywhere.”
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