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Free guitarist Paul Kossoff was a young guitar virtuoso that left us way too quickly. Passing away at just 25 years old, “Koss”, as he was known by some, would go on to inspire a generation of players that, like him, weren’t afraid to dig in on the fretboard when things got loud. With his Marshall stacks usually cranked, his sound could peel the paint off the walls, and it was a huge part of what made Free such a big act in Britain, and eventually crossing the pond and taking hold of young listeners in the U.S.
His use of vibrato was insane! A perfect example can be found in the hit single, “Alright Now”, when the song breaks in the middle before building back up to the chorus. Some of the lead lines he plays there sound like they’re being squeezed from the guitar neck, and with his bright and articulate tone, you can almost hear his fingers scratching on the wood of the fretboard as he shakes the stings back and forth.
Our own Joe Bonamassa has cited him as huge influence, as well as countless other blues rock guitarists. He’s the perfect example of the many musicians in the sixties from Britain that took the sound of American blues and reinterpreted it, helping to give birth to the hard rock genre that would dominate the following decade.