Gone fishing: The story behind Foghat's 'Fool for the City' LP cover

Roger Earl remembers an encounter with New York City's Finest
By Peter Lindblad

Everyone's had a good laugh over the years over the cover to Foghat's Fool for the City album cover. Count Roger Earl, the band's original drummer and the only founding member of the '70s blues-rock giants left in the band, among them.

Foghat - Fool For The City
"Yeah, to this day, people tend to get a real kick out of it," said Earl. "The thing is, one has to maintain one’s sense of humor. I think it’s imperative."

The boys in Foghat certainly never took themselves too seriously. On the cover of Fool for the City is a photo of Earl sitting on a soapbox fishing in a manhole in the middle of East 11th Street in New York City. Foghat's American office was located nearby.

Despite being an avid fisherman, it wasn't Earl who came up with the idea.

"Um, I might be wrong, but I believe it was suggested by our producer and bass player at the time, Nick Jameson," said Earl. "I’m pretty sure Nick was the one who suggested it. I should ask him about it. I think it was his idea, because anytime I had some time off or I was wanting to unwind, I would go fishing. I’d grab a rod and go. Fly fishing was always fun, and fishing on rivers, because you could walk. But it didn’t matter if I was in a boat or sitting on a sandy beach, it was still fishing. And that’s the way I still feel. Anytime I could go fishing, it wasn’t wasted time. That what they say, right? (laughs) In fact, I read somewhere, God doesn’t take time out of your life if you go fishing. And I said, “I like that.” Fishermen like that (laughs)."

Some of the local authorities weren't initially so jolly about what Earl and Foghat were doing, as Earl recalls.

"I think we’d finished the record actually, and we were out on Long Island, and we got up early one Sunday morning, drove into Manhattan with a pole, lifted up the manhole cover and started fishing," said Earl. "And a couple of New York’s Finest came along and said, 'Hey, you got a license?' Because I had a pole, and I said, 'Oh, shit.' And he said, 'Do you have a fishing license?' (laughs) They said, 'What the f—k are you guys doing?' And we explained to him what we were doing, and they said, 'Oh, okay.' So they just made sure the taxis and other cars wouldn’t go down the pot hole or anything. They’re New York’s Finest, and they laughed at it. They were more worried about murderers, robbers and rapists, not some rock ‘n’ rollers pulling up manhole covers (laughs)."

One of the best live bands to ever come out of the '70s, as evidenced by 1977's massively successful Foghat Live album, Foghat has a new live DVD out titled "Live in St. Pete" that's available at http://www.foghat.net/. Earl likes how it came out.

Foghat - Live at St. Pete
"Yeah, we were rather pleased with it," said Earl. "We’d been trying to put out a DVD. The last one we had was about 10 years ago, and it was taken from a whole bunch of shows. Over the last 10 years or so, we’d record regularly, or if there was decent filming equipment there, and we’d been going through all the DVDs and stuff that we had, and I’m trying to compile a bunch of tunes that we could put on a DVD. The problem I was having is that some films and some shows sounded really good, but the video left something to be desired. Other shows looked really good, and like the bass drum or the bass guitar weren’t on there or we had no lead guitar, or Charlie’s voice was distorted. So I’d gotten through all this stuff, and it was um … definitely a labor of love, but it wasn’t really (laughs)."

This one, they got right, as per our review of the video. http://backstageauctions.blogspot.com/2014/02/dvd-review-foghat-live-in-st-pete.html

"So what happened was, we finished actually touring for the year, and our agent called us up and said, 'Look, somebody’s canceled at this club down in Florida in St. Pete. Would you guys like to play there?" related Earl. "Myself, I was already down in Florida, staying at a house down there. Bryan (Bassette) lives down there, as does Charlie (Huhn). And two of our crew were already down there, so we called everybody up and said, 'Do you want to go out and do one more?' And they all said, 'Please.' (laughs) We did it, and our families were there, so we had a big party afterwards, and our sound engineer came in with a CD from the night, and he said, I think you sounded really good.' And he really didn’t have much to do with it. He cleaned up most of the stuff that he could. And then he handed us something us. There was also video from it, and we went, All right.' We were drinking some wine and (had some) cheese and vodkas, and having a party at the hotel, and we were listening to it, and going, 'Wow! This is really good.'"

And so, "Live at St. Pete" was born. Look for more of our interview with Earl in this space in the coming days and weeks.


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