Rock Legend Mick Ralphs Talks About Writing Classic Songs For Bad Company and Mott The Hoople

Mick Ralphs
Mick Ralphs

British rock star Mick Ralphs is known for being a key member of two, classic rock bands, Bad Company and Mott The Hoople. Rock music fans know that he was the lead guitarist for both groups, playing on many acclaimed albums and being a strong live performer. However, what’s lesser known is that Ralphs is an excellent songwriter who wrote many classic songs for both bands.

Ralphs first played with Mott The Hoople in the late ’60s and early ’70s, and then he moved on to launch Bad Company with lead singer Paul Rodgers. It was with Bad Company that Ralphs had the most success, writing several of their hit songs and recording 12 studio albums with the band, many which were certified platinum or gold.

When Bad Company released their debut album in 1974 (titled Bad Company), they had immediate success. Ralphs wrote their breakthrough, Top 5 single “Can’t Get Enough,” which remains a standard on classic rock stations. He also wrote their follow-up hit single, “Movin’ On.”

In 1975, Bad Company released their second album, Straight Shooter. This album contained two chart hits, the Top 10 ballad “Feel Like Makin’ Love” (written with Paul Rodgers) and the high energy cut, “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad.” Other key Bad Company songs written or co-written by Ralphs are “Live For The Music,” “Ready For Love,” “Honey Child,” “Sweet Lil’ Sister,” “Seagull” and “Deal With The Preacher.” His song “Oh Atlanta,” which was included on the group’s Desolation Angels album, was later recorded by bluegrass artist, Alison Krauss.

For a period of 18 years (from 1974 to 1992) Bad Company released a steady flow of albums, with nine out of 10 being certified platinum or gold. Four of their albums went multi-platinum: Bad Company, Straight Shooter, Run with the Pack and Desolation Angels. In addition, their album Holy Water went platinum, and their gold albums are Burnin’ Sky, Rough Diamonds, Dangerous Age and Here Comes Trouble.

Prior to his years with Bad Company, Ralphs was a founding member of British band Mott The Hoople, which featured lead singer & writer, Ian Hunter. Ralphs wrote songs and played lead guitar for six of their studio albums, including Mott The Hoople, Mad Shadows, Wildlife, Brain Capers, All The Young Dudes and Mott.

The first cut on Mott The Hoople’s self-titled debut album was “Rock and Roll Queen,” which was written by Ralphs. This song has become a cult classic which was recently featured in the HBO TV series, Vinyl (produced by Martin Scorsese & Mick Jagger). Other key Mott The Hoople songs written or co-written by Ralphs are “One Of The Boys,” “Drivin’ Sister,” “Ballad of Mott The Hoople,” “The Moon Upstairs,” “Sucker,” “Violence,” “Thunderbuck Ram” and “I’m A Cadillac/El Camino Dolo Roso.”

Here’s Bad Company performing their hit “Can’t Get Enough”
in the mid-1970s.

In 2011, Ralphs formed the Mick Ralphs Blues Band, which has since released two albums, Should Know Better and If It Ain’t Broke. The band has steadily played shows in the U.K. during the past five years.

We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Mick Ralphs:

DK: For Mott The Hoople’s first album, you wrote the classic “Rock and Roll Queen,” which recently appeared on the HBO TV series, Vinyl. How did you create this song?

Ralphs: The songs I write, are from feelings and life experiences. Sometimes they start with a riff, or a chord sequence, or a phrase of words. I can’t remember how “Rock and Roll Queen” came to me, but it was one of the above.

DK: You later wrote several key songs for Mott The Hoople’s acclaimed albums, All The Young Dudes and Mott. Which songs are your favorites from these albums?

Ralphs: “All The Young Dudes,” which was written by David Bowie, will always be one of my favorites.

DK: After the album, Mott, you decided to leave the band, and you co-founded Bad Company. What were the main factors that led to you starting Bad Company?

Ralphs: I had written a lot of songs, some Ian Hunter could sing, but most he felt he couldn’t do them justice. After meeting Paul Rodgers at a show, he said that he could sing them. That was really how Bad Company started.

DK: “Can’t Get Enough” became a huge hit for Bad Company. How did you write this song? Did you create the famous guitar riff first?

Ralphs: It was a song that came very quickly to me, and the riff just fell into place.

Here’s Bad Company performing their hit “Movin’ On” at Wembley
Arena in London in 2010.

DK: Your most famous ballad is the hit, “Feel Like Makin’ Love.” How did you and Paul Rodgers write this song?

Ralphs: Paul wrote the verses, and I wrote the hook.

DK: You formed the Mick Ralphs Blues Band in 2011. Can you tell me about the albums you’ve recorded (Should Know Better and If It Ain’t Broke) and about your live shows with this band?

Ralphs: Should Know Better was a live album, from the lineup of that time, and was really just a fun album. If It Ain’t Broke was my first studio album in a long time, and is how the band is now, and has progressed.

Dale Kawashima is the Head of SongwriterUniverse and a music journalist. He’s also a music publishing exec who has represented the song catalogs of Michael Jackson, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Motown Records.
Dale Kawashima