Breakfast In America Turns 40: The Supertramp Classic Years In The Making

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Supertramp were the masters of overnight success that took years. The British band were formed in 1969 and released their self-titled debut album the following year, gradually building a loyal following with their sophisticated rock sound. Six years on, and with an evolved line-up, they had their first UK hit single with ‘Dreamer,’ and first top ten success with its parent album Crime Of The Century. But on 29 March 1979, as they marked their tenth anniversary, their world truly changed with the release of Breakfast In America.

The band had set the scene for their elevation to album rock’s top division by meticulously building their transatlantic audience. 1977’s Even In The Quietest Moments, released in April 1977, went gold in the US just three months later, just before its signature song ‘Give A Little Bit’ made the top 20 there, as they toured the country extensively. The album was also their best-selling to date in many other countries.

But it was Breakfast In America, the group’s sixth LP release, that saw the songwriting partnership of Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson reach full commercial throttle. Advertised by the lead single ‘The Logical Song,’ also released in March 1979, the Supertramp sound was now entirely at ease with its great crossover potential. In co-producing with Peter Henderson, the band created a sound that won over pop radio around the world, and both FM and AM formats in the country that the album was, cannily, named after, and where they now made their home, in Los Angeles.

‘The Logical Song’ became the first of four irresistible singles from the set, hitting the top ten in both the UK and US, topping the charts in Canada and giving the long player the perfect launchpad. Breakfast In America was gold in the States by 9 April and platinum by 9 May, even before its title track became a second consecutive top ten winner in their home country. On 19 May, the LP started an aggregate six-week at the US summit, also hitting No. 1 in Norway, Austria, Canada, Australia and France.

The subsequent singles ‘Goodbye Stranger’ and ‘Take The Long Way Home’ kept Supertramp on radios and turntables worldwide for the rest of the year, as the band’s tireless road work continued. Their show in late November at the Pavilion in Paris would be recorded as a permanent record of that touring season, released as the live album Paris in 1980.

The echoes of Supertramp’s astonishing worldwide conquest with Breakfast In America continued to be heard. In May 1980, ‘The Logical Song’ was named Best Song Musically and Lyrically at the 25th annual Ivor Novello Awards in London. Then, in November 1984, the RIAA confirmed that the album had arrived at quadruple platinum status, for four million shipments, in the US alone.

“I always knew it was going to be a huge album,” Roger Hodgson told Melody Maker in 1979. “I knew our time had come and if it hadn’t happened, the big man in the sky was playing a trick on us. I felt that it had to happen, the mere fact that we had to struggle so long for it.”

Breakfast In America has sold in excess of 18 million copies worldwide, and as Roger Hodgson continues to tour playing its landmark songs, it will only continue to resonate with future generations.

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