It's not surprising Charlie Huhn used to play in Humble Pie. For a rock star and frontman for Foghat, he certainly acts plenty humble.
"When we first played Harrah's, I thought I was going to be in heaven because when I would come to ski at Heavenly, I always saw Heart or Sammy Hagar on the billboards," Huhn said. "I wished I could play there because I was in lowly Humble Pie. Then six or seven years ago we (Foghat) got our first gig there and it was dream come true. This is our third time there. I still have the dressing room brass plates mounted on oak plaques. I'm the quintessential tourist."
Huhn's time in Humble Pie was after that band's glory days when it featured Peter Frampton and Steve Marriott, whose role he covered. Now he is the lead singer for Foghat, filling in for "Lonesome Dave" Peverett, who in 2000 chose his replacement shortly before he died of cancer.
"He fits perfectly," said lead guitarist Bryan Bassett. "I don't think we would be touring right now if we hadn't met Charlie. Dave knew Charlie and approved of his singing when he was with Humble Pie.
"The way I look at it, they have the same kind of quality, stage presence and kinds of rock sensibilities. At the same time, he's not a Dave clone. We felt it would be essential to not have a Dave copycat but have someone who was as equally talented as Dave and had their own personality."
Huhn's first big musical break was when he auditioned for and was hired by Ted Nugent, a fellow Michigan resident. Although Huhn became a big-time arena player, he remained a fan as well.
"I used to drive my little Volkswagen from Grand Rapids (Mich.) to Chicago with no heat in January just to see Savoy Brown," Huhn said. "Those guys were so good it just freaked me out. Then I saw (Foghat's) reunion '97. We opened as Humble Pie in Toledo. I went up to the bus after my show and got all their autographs. They had worked with original Humble Pie and were asking, 'Who's singing Steve Marriott?' I guess I did something right to get Dave's blessing to keep the band going."
Original drummer Roger Earl, in a 2007 interview with Lake Tahoe Action, remembered the story exactly as Huhn told it.
"I remembered his voice from that day he came on the bus in Toledo, and he was always a big fan of Dave's," Earl said. "Charlie Huhn was the only consideration for a singer in the band to carry on. It worked out well and we had Dave's blessing."
Huhn didn't even realize he was a candidate for Foghat.
"I didn't know I was in the running when I got the call," Huhn said. "I had a day job at Ford Motor Company when a co-worker told me Lonesome Dave had passed away. Then he looked at me in the eyes and pointed at me. The next day Roger Earl called. It was freaky."
Bassett, who played in Wild Cherry ("Play the Funky Music, White Boy") and Molly Hatchet, had teamed up with Peverett in 1990 when Earl and Peverett were feuding. The band was called "Lonesome Dave's Foghat."
"It was very interesting," Bassett said. "Dave had just returned from England on a hiatus and we became friends through our mutual love of blues music. I was working with a blues label then, Kingsnake records, and had a local blues band in Orlando. He used to come out and check us out and we became friends. When he decided to go out and tour again, he asked me to go out with him and that was my introduction to the band."
Producer Rick Rubin instigated a series of telephone calls that led to Peverett and Earl's reconciliation.
Huhn, Bassett and Earl have been together since 2000. Craig MacGregor, who has been in and out of the band since 1976, rejoined in 2005, replacing Tony Stevens.
Foghat in 2010 recorded a blues album, "Last Train Home," with Eddie Kirkland, who died in a car accident shortly after the studio sessions. Jeff Howell played bass on the record.
The band does about 75 shows a year, and Tahoe has become a regular stop for each new Foghat tour.
"We look forward to it," Bassett said. "They treat us fabulously at the venue and we always have a good crowd, and there is spectacular scenery, so we look forward to it every year."