On this day in 1949, English drummer Simon Kirke, best known for his work with Free and Bad Company, was born in London, England.

Inspired by The Beatles as a teen, Kirke made a deal with his parents that if he couldn’t “make it” as a drummer in a band within a two-year period after graduating high school, that he would go to college.

Just a few months shy of that deadline, Kirke became the drummer for Black Cat Bones, where he befriended the group’s guitarist, Paul Kossoff, who in turn convinced Kirke to leave the group with him and start Free, with singer Paul Rodgers. The blues-influenced rockers were best known for their hit single “All Right Now” (above).

When Free disbanded, Kirke joined Rodgers in a new band, Bad Company, along with ex-King Crimson bassist Boz Burrell and guitarist Mick Ralphs. It was the first group signed to Led Zeppelin’s record label, Swan Song. Kirke has been the only continuous member of the band since its inception.

Kirke has also performed, toured, and/or recorded with a number of artists, including Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band, Wilson Pickett, Faces, Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and others.

Enjoy the subtle touches and muscular backbeat of Kirke and company (sometimes bad) below.

Bad Company, “Bad Company”

Bad Company, “Feel Like Making Love”

Kirke With Led Zeppelin

Kirke With Ringo Starr, Live, “Shooting Star” (a Bad Company song)

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