"Fool's Overture" is the closing track from Supertramp's 1977 album Even in the Quietest Moments. Written and song by guitarist, keyboard player, singer and songwriter Roger Hodgson, the song tells about World War II England and the lessons learned from it. The song, which is over 10 minutes long, is a collage of progressive instrumentation and sound samples. First there are excerpts of Winston Churchill's famous June 4, 1940 House of Commons speech regarding England's involvement in World War II ("Never Surrender"), and later sounds of police cars and church bells are heard. The flageolet-sounding instrument plays an excerpt from Gustav Holst's "Venus", from his orchestral suite The Planets. There is also a reading of the first verse of William Blake's poem "And did those feet in ancient time" (more commonly known as "Jerusalem"), ended by a very short sample of the band's song "Dreamer".
Its writing credits are given to Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson, although it is a Hodgson composition.Like John Lennon and Paul McCartney of The Beatles, Hodgson and Davies joined writer's credits from 1974 until 1983, when Hodgson left Supertramp to pursue a solo career.
"Fool's Overture" was the closing song on Supertramp's 1977, 1979 and 1983 tours before the encore. When this song was played live, a video of World War II would be shown during the Winston Churchill speech and another film of bombs and houses exploding before the grand finale of the song. During the song's finale, the band decided to "go crazy" by bringing on stage Superman, a holy man, John in his Spider-Man glasses plus a conductor's jacket, dancing gorillas, cops, robbers, Indians, a banana and an Adolf Hitler look-alike. During the music explosion/Jerusalem section of the piece, when performed live from 1977 to 1983, John Helliwell would play a different saxophone solo each performance with some ranging from "The Star Spangled Banner" to "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" to just a plain saxophone doodle. A live version of the song, recorded in 1979, is included in the Paris live album. The song has less frequently appeared on live setlists following the 1983 tour.
For several years in the late 1970s and early 1980s, a portion of the song was used as the theme music for W-FIVE, a Canadian news magazine television series. In the Netherlands, the synthesized instrumental part of the track was used as the background music for the gig guide on Radio Veronica, during their broadcast of the national Top 40 chart throughout the 1980s.
Personnel Roger Hodgson - piano, Elka Rhapsody synthesizer, lead and backing vocals Dougie Thomson - bass guitar and additional backing vocals Bob Siebenberg - drums Rick Davies - synthesizers, piano, backing vocals John Helliwell - Oberheim synthesizer, tenor saxophone, clarinet, backing vocals