“Happiness… what we all want, what we all need. So simple, so obvious, but so utterly true”
Roger’s third solo album was issued a full ten years after the preceding one. It was recorded and produced at Roger’s home studio in Surrey, England during 1993 going into 1994, and was co-produced with friend and colleague (and former Cross band-mate) Joshua J. Macrae.
Once again, Roger played most of the music himself, particularly drums, percussion and guitar, as well as singing lead and backing vocals. Jason Falloon played guitars on all tracks too. Other friends and former band members also contributed, including Phil Spalding on bass, Mike Crossley on piano and keyboards, and Catherine Porter on backing vocals on two songs. Roger wrote all tracks except the ballad ‘Foreign Sand’ which was a co-write production with Japanese musician Yoshiki. This was recorded at One On One studios in L.A., where Roger wrote and sang the words, and Yoshiki wrote and performed most of the music. Roger played drums and keyboards. Other musicians were also brought in, Phil Chen played bass, and Jim Cregan (both from the Rod Stewart band) provided guitars. Dick Marx took care of the strings arrangement.
For reasons best known to Roger, the Happiness? album was dedicated to ‘the tasmanian tiger – thylacinus cynocephalus, but most especially… for Freddie.’ Initial copies were released on limited edition numbered vinyl LP and CD and regular copies on LP, CD and cassette. The cover design was by Roger and Queen art director Richard Gray, who also took some of the photographs.
Roger: “I liked the primitive little alien statue, which I found on my travels”
‘Happiness?’ was released in the UK in September 1994, preceded by the first single, in Roger’s hard hitting protest song ‘Nazis 1994’ – issued on 7″ red vinyl and 12″ clear vinyl as well as on cassette single and CD, containing various mixes of the track. The ‘Nazis’ single reached number 22 in the UK charts despite being banned by the BBC for its subject matter, and having had its original lyrics changed at the request of the record company. The promotional video, featuring scenes of war and holocaust atrocities, was also banned on some TV music stations.
The second single, an edited version of ‘Foreign Sand’, accompanied by a promotional video released in the UK in September on 7″ blue vinyl, 12″ picture disc, cassette and CD, and reached number 26 in the charts. One of the extra tracks on some formats was a new recording of The Cross’ ‘Final Destination’, performed by Roger and Yoshiki.
Roger: “Yoshiki and I met and got on very well. We decided that we would do an east – west collaboration. This guy’s an amazing concert pianist and also an incredibly able rock drummer. So he sent me the music and I thought it was great and we talked about that a little bit and we changed it a little, and then I sent him some lyrics and the top line and it ended up as a song called Foreign Sand.”
A further single was released in the UK in November ’94, in the title track ‘Happiness’ released on 7″ green vinyl, 12″ picture disc, cassette and CD. Additional live tracks recorded at the Shepherds Bush Empire, on 15th September, were added to various formats. They included the Queen songs ‘Ride The Wild Wind’ and ‘I Want To Break Free’ and songs from the new album ‘Dear Mr Murdoch’, ‘Everybody Hurts Sometime’ and ‘Old Friends’ (a poignant ballad written by Roger for Freddie). The ‘Happiness’ promo video was made with directors Rudi Dolezal and Hannes Rossacher (DoRo).
Roger: “Old Friends is probably the most personal song on the album, it’s just a very quiet laid back song, really a little tribute to Freddie.
On 15th September 1994, Roger and his band played a live concert at London’s Shepherds Bush Empire. This was followed by three live dates in Japan and shows in Germany and Italy. A full UK tour commenced on 19th November, including a further show at the Shepherds Bush Empire, followed by eight more concerts across the country, concluding in Bristol in late November. The live set included songs from the ‘Happiness?’ album and Queen favourites ‘A Kind Of Magic’, ‘Ride The Wild Wind’, ‘Tenement Funster’, ‘I Want To Break Free’, ‘I’m In Love With My Car’, ‘These Are The Days Of Our Lives’, ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘Radio Ga Ga’ and ‘The Show Must Go On’. Roger also played some cover versions; Bob Dylan’s ‘A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall’, The Beatles’ ‘Twist And Shout’ and Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Voodoo Chile’. The band comprised Guitarist Jason Falloon, who also sang vocals on his own composition ‘Soul’, Josh Macrae on drums, Mike Crossley on keyboards and Stuart Bradley on bass.
In December the band performed live on an Italian radio station, and then returned home for three more dates in the UK including a concert at Roger’s hometown of Truro in Cornwall. Two further shows in France, at the Europe 1 Studios, were broadcast on radio there and were also filmed. Later, in January 1995, but also in support of this album, Roger and the band played nine dates in Italy and a one-off show in Malta.