Free – English Rock Band
Free is an English rock band that formed in 1968. Furthermore, the band features Paul Rodgers, Simon Kirke, Paul Kossoff and Andy Fraser. Along with Cream and Led Zeppelin, they too were one of the most influential bands of the late 1960s.
Photo of The Week
While we’re not sure who captured this group photo, we do know that it’s the band “Free” with the original line-up. So, it gives us a good excuse to write about them. And the photo isn’t something you see everyday.
Free – The Beginning & End
Formed in London during the spring of 1968, the original lineup includes drummer Simon Kirke, bassist Andy Fraser. Along with lead vocalist Paul Rodgers and guitarist Paul Kossoff. Kirke and Kossoff are heavily influenced by American Blues artists and as teenagers and joined the R&B band called “Black Cat Bones”. Which garners a strong and growing reputation among the London blues scene.
While scouting for a new vocalist to front the band, Kossoff and Kirke visited the Fickle Pickle, an R&B club in London’s Finsbury Park. It was here that the two first heard Paul Rodgers, a young vocalist then performing with “Brown Sugar”. Kirke and Kossoff are impressed with Rodger’s expressive voice and charismatic style. So, they recruit him for the band.
With Rodgers in the fold, Kossoff and Kirke, to round out their new ensemble, turn to one of their mentors, British blues legend Alexis Korner. He recommends Andy Fraser even though he’s only fifteen. But if you played with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, you would think it’s a good move to hire him. Korner’s simple choice met with immediate approval, and he suggests they call themselves “Free”.
Free – Keeping it Simple
Free sought to establish their own distinct sound and style, shunning excess amplification and instrumentation for sparse arrangement and a gritty, high energy mix of rock and blues. They wanted to keep things very simple Bass, Guitar, Drums and Vocals. Free became well-known for their live shows and constant touring. Meanwhile, their albums don’t do as well until Fire and Water, their third album releases featuring All Right Now.
The song helps secure them a place at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970, where they play to 600,000 people. Furthermore, In the early 1970s “Free” becomes one of the biggest-selling British blues rock groups. Despite the current success, their fourth album Highway failed commercially.
Frustrated by HIGHWAY‘s commercial rejection and unsure of their future musical direction, Free is consumed by internal friction and a nagging sense of self-doubt. In May 1971, following a turbulent Asian Tour, Free disbands. Later they try to reconnect and try to be a band once more but unfortunately things don’t work out and in July 1973, they disband for good.
After disbanding in 1973, Rodgers and Kirke formed rock supergroup “Bad Company” the same year. Fraser goes on to form the band “Sharks” and later “The Andy Fraser Band”, and Kossoff forms the band “Back Street Crawler”. By 1976, Kossoff’s drug addictions contributed to a drastic decline in the guitarist’s health. On 19 March 1976, Paul Kossoff dies from a pulmonary embolism at the age of 25. Andy Fraser died on 16 March 2015 of a heart attack.
Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke have both been musically active from 1968-present. Bad Company remains active currently touring. For tour information and dates, please visit www.badcompany.com
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