JOHN HELLIWELL in Classic Rock, October 2010

JOHN HELLIWELL in Classic Rock, October 2010


Supertramp Exclusive: Hodgson Return? Never!


If anyone’s hoping for an emotional reunion between Roger Hodgson and Supertramp, then they can forget it. So says, saxophonist John Anthony Helliwell.

There are two chances, slim and none – and slim’s just left town,” laughs Helliwell, when Classic Rock asks the question. “To be honest, I’m not sure what the problem is, because it’s down to Roger and Rick (Davies). I do know they had talks about touring together. According to one party, those talks lasted 18 months. According to the other they lasted no time at all. But in the end, Roger decided to go and do his own tour, which was very good. Rick decided to put together the Supertramp 40th anniversary tour. And both parties tell you a different story as to why the whole thing failed.”

Helliwell also acknowledges that Hodgson is angry that the band are now playing six of his songs in their live set.

“I know he’s made his feelings public. But I’m not sure why he’s so upset. Firstly, anybody can play anyone’s songs live. And secondly, who better to do those songs than Supertramp? Yes, Roger wrote them, but I feel we as a band brought a unique approach which makes them stand out. The same also applies to Rick’s stuff.”

Helliwell has further revealed that there are plans for an expanded edition of 1974’s breakthrough album Crime Of The Century, although an actual release date remains unconfirmed. This follows the reissue of 1979’s Breakfast In America, now available as a two-CD set.

“I know we’re calling it the 30th anniversary re-release – we’ve just rounded it down a little,” admits Helliwell. “It’s been great revisiting the album. The extra CD has live songs from both Paris and Wembley on that 1979 tour. To be honest, when we’d finished the album we knew it was good, but we only realised how big it had become because all the venues were packed. We must have done about 120 shows from March to November in 79, which was quite hectic. Thankfully we bought ourselves some extra time for resting up by putting out the live album Paris in 1980.”

There were allegedly real tensions in the studio for Breakfast in America, between Hodgson and Davies, although Helliwell feels they’d always been there.

“I recall in 1973 we had to literally grab Roger and prevent him from going off to India. We had Crime Of The Century coming out, and the last thing we needed was Roger disappearing. But there was always friction between him and Rick, so what happened on Breakfast… was nothing new.”

Currently on the aforementioned 40th anniversary tour, with dates stretching in Europe until October 28 (they play the O2 Arena in London on Wednesday, October 6) , Helliwell is confident this will not be the last activity from the band.

We’re already talking about spring dates next year in America, and also some festivals in the summer. Possibly in Europe, maybe in America. But it’s all down to what Rick wants to do. It’s his call.

And, although, there are no plans for any new studio recordings, the band are making available live recordings of every show on the tour.

“You can buy a USB of each gig straight after it’s finished. Or you can get a CD or MP3 download online. It means I’ve got to watch what I say, because as the announcer anything idiotic I come up with will now be captured for posterity!”

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