SURREY — Did you know that Todd Ronning, the bassist of legendary British rock band Bad Company, lives in Surrey?
You do now.
The 50-year-old rocker has quite the story about how he got to run with the pack, dating back to when listening to bands like Bad Company prompted him to pick up a guitar at age 12.
“I wanted to play bass from the start, but everyone had acoustics,” recalled Ronning, noting that he made the switch to the four-string when he joined the high school band. “I told the teacher a few months in that I really wanted to play bass and he was like, ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’”
(SEE VIDEO BELOW OF RONNING ON STAGE WITH BAD COMPANY ON 'JAY LENO SHOW' LAST SUMMER)
“Once I did get to play with him a few times in ’97 and ’98, I certainly wanted to get back to it, but it didn’t look like it was going to happen,” Ronning said.
At the recommendation of his younger brother, Cliff Ronning, then playing NHL hockey with Nashville Predators, the elder Ronning moved to Tennessee and met with record producers in Music City. He recorded some demos that led him to producer Jimmy Johnson, best known for engineering The Rolling Stones’ multi-platinum 1971 album Sticky Fingers.
“Under his direction, we started writing songs and recorded a record under the name King Karma” in 2004, said Ronning. “At the same time, the industry was changing its tactics – a lot of record companies were going under. The whole music scene changed and we kind of got caught in the crossfire.”
But that’s where Rodgers, a part-time Surrey resident, comes back into the picture: while Bad Company was on hiatus, Rodgers was touring with Queen guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, and Wolfe was the stage manager.
“After that Queen experience, I guess the bass player he had at the time wasn’t working out and, of course, he remembered me,” said Ronning. “I got a call in 2011. ‘We need you in the U.K., you’ve got a week to prepare.’”
Ronning went on a 10-day tour with Rodgers, whose solo band included longtime Heart musical director Howard Leese and drummer Jason Bonham, the son of late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham. Halfway through the tour, Rodgers’ manager asked Ronning to stay on as the bassist for Bad Company – something Ronning could only have dreamt about.
“I can’t remember the exact moment, but I’ve seen pictures of our (high school) band and one of the guys has a Bad Company shirt on,” he reflected. “Now that I’m in this rock ‘n’ roll fantasy of Paul’s, it’s like the door’s open.
“I could’ve figured I was done for a few times in that story,” he added with a laugh.
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