Free (Band) - Biography

Free (Band)Free were an English R&B-style rock band, formed in London in 1968 and best known for their popular song "All Right Now". Lead singer Paul Rodgers went on to become lead singer of the rock band Bad Company along with Simon Kirke on drums, while lead guitarist Paul Kossoff, a much revered blues-rock guitarist, was to die from a drug-induced heart failure at the age of 25 in 1976. The band was famed for their sensational live shows and nonstop touring, although their early studio albums sold slowly until the release of "Fire and Water" which featured the massive hit "All Right Now". This song helped secure them a place at the huge Isle of Wight Festival 1970 where they played to 600,000 people. As surviving band members ruefully admit, personal problems got in the way and they broke up on the brink of something big, perhaps never realising their true potential.

History

Most remarkable about the birth of Free was the young age of the band members who first came together to rehearse at the Nag's Head pub in Battersea, London, on April 19, 1968. Bass player Andy Fraser (born August 7, 1952), was only 15 years old while lead singer Paul Rodgers (born December 17, 1949), lead guitarist Paul Kossoff (September 14, 1950 - March 19, 1976), and drummer Simon Kirke (born July 28, 1949), were also still teenagers. By November of that year they had recorded their first album Tons Of Sobs for Island Records and, although it was not released until the following year, the album documents their first six months together and contains studio renditions of much of their early live set.

Paul Kossoff and Simon Kirke first became friends in the R&B band Black Cat Bones but they wanted to move on and saw vocalist Paul Rodgers singing with Brown Sugar while visiting the "Fickle Pickle", an R&B club in London's Finsbury Park. They were immediately impressed, and the three were soon jamming, forming Free with the addition of Andy Fraser, who at the tender age of 15 had already been playing with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers.

Free are still cited as one of the definitive bands of the British blues boom of the late 1960s with the release of Tons of Sobs in 1968, but this is the only album that can strictly be called blues-rock. The next album, Free, released in 1969, has a marked difference in the musicianship of the band as well as Paul Rodgers's voice.

Unlike their previous albums Tons of Sobs and Free, Fire and Water - released in 1970 - was a huge success, largely due to the album containing the hit single All Right Now that reached #1 on the UK rock music charts and #4 on the U.S. charts. The album reached #2 in the UK charts and #17 on the U.S charts making it the most successful Free album. Highway was their fourth studio album, recorded extremely quickly in September of 1970.

In April 1971 due to differences between singer Paul Rodgers and bassist Andy Fraser, the drug problems of guitarist Paul Kossoff, and inconsistent record sales, the band broke up. This led to the studio release of the live album in 1971 called Free Live!. Early in 1972 the band set aside their differences and reformed, and in June of the same year released Free at Last.

But all was not well with the band. After the release of Heartbreaker in the first month of 1973 - recorded in November of 1972 - bassist Andy Fraser left the band and guitarist Paul Kossoff was ailing from an addiction to Mandrax. Free disbanded in early 1973 with Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke going on to form Bad Company that same year. Andy Fraser went onto to form the band Sharks and then The Andy Fraser Band and Paul Kossoff would form the band Back Street Crawler.

With Paul Kossoff in better health again in late 1975, he was delighted that now ex-Free colleagues, Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke asked him to joined him on stage for two nights. A British tour was set to begin on 25 April 1976 with the Back Street Crawler headlining with Bad Company in support of Back Street Crawler's second album, but again his drug addictions contributed to a drastic decline in the guitarists health. On a flight from Los Angeles to New York on March 19th, 1976, Paul Kossoff died from drug-related heart problems at the age of 25.

British blues legend Alexis Korner played a part in the Free story, recommending Andy Fraser to the band, providing the name "Free"and encouraging their early efforts. The sound that would be a trademark of Free is heard in songs like "All Right Now", "Trouble On Double Time", "Fire And Water" and "Wishing Well", with Paul Rodgers being known in the rock media as "The Voice". Paul Rodgers would go on to explore the heavy blues stylings of Free again in his solo career during the '80s and '90s, and in the bands The Firm and The Law.

"All Right Now". A # 1 hit in over 20 territories and recognised by ASCAP(American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) in 1990 for garnering 1,000,000 plus radio plays in the US by late 1989, and in 2000 an Award was given to Paul Rodgers by the British Music Industry when "All Right Now" passed 2,000,000 plus radio plays in the UK.

Most recently Paul Rodgers has joined the remaining members of Queen (Brian May and Roger Taylor), as vocalist. He covered the role of Freddie Mercury, vocalist, who died in 1991. It was stated, including on Brian May's own website, that Rodgers would be "featured with" Queen as [[Queen + Paul Rodgers]], not replacing the late Freddie Mercury. Rodgers also sang Free and Bad Company songs whilst on tour with queen, in addition to the traditional Queen songs.

Members

  • Paul Rodgers - Lead Vocals
  • Paul Kossoff - Lead Guitar
  • Andy Fraser - Bass Guitar
  • Simon Kirke - Drums

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