Free were an English 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. Lead guitarist Paul Kossoff, a much revered blues-rock guitarist, died from a drug-induced heart failure at the age of 25 in 1976.
The band was famed for its sensational live shows and nonstop touring. However, early studio albums did not sell very well – until the release of Fire and Water which featured the massive hit „All Right Now” this album brought them to full status as one of the top rock bands of the 1960-70’s. This song helped secure them a place at the huge Isle of Wight Festival 1970 where they played to 600,000 people.
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 19 April 1968. Bass player Andy Fraser, was only 15 years old while lead singer Paul Rodgers, lead guitarist Paul Kossoff, and drummer Simon Kirke, 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. Paul Kossoff saw vocalist Paul Rodgers singing with Brown Sugar while visiting the Fickle Pickle, an R&B club in London’s Finsbury Park. He was immediately impressed, and asked if he could jam with Rodgers onstage. Along with Kirke, they would go on to form 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”, which reached #1 on the UK rock music charts, #2 on the UK singles chart 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.
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 in an effort to save Kossoff from his growing drug addiction, and in June of the same year released Free at Last.
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 join them 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 guitarist’s health. On a flight from Los Angeles to New York on 19 March 1976, Paul Kossoff died from drug-related heart problems at the age of 25.
All Right Now
Be My Friend (BBC Live)
Fire and Water
My Brother Jake (Live At Isle Of Wight)
Songs Of Yesterday
Mourning Sad Morning
Love You So (tribute to Paul Kossoff)