Free

ARTICLE ABOUT Free FROM New Musical Express, June 27, 1970

A really nice article at a time when Free were about to make their breakthrough as a band with a hit single that still makes people sit up and listen. Timeless!
Read on!

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Fans make it a free for all

By Roy Carr

TO many wide-eyed, star-struck groups, a hit record is the culmination of their career; they can see no further. It is, for them the be-all and end-all… full stop. As far as Free, who are currently at No. 6 in the NME Chart, are concerned, their first hit single, “Alright Now,” hasn’t affected their status in the slightest. Except that its probably doubled their overall listening appeal.
However, these newly acquainted afficionados may encounter some difficulties in getting in to see them on their live gigs. The reason being that over the last few months, Free have been playing to turn-away crowds throughout the land.
On all these dates, they have been re-kindling the uninhibited spirit of fan-fever and audience participation, the likes of which haven’t been seen in this country for at least a couple of years.
Recalling a very recent incident, guitarist Paul Kossof began.
“Towards the end of a set in Bradford, the audience jumped up en masse and rushed the stage, dancing all over the place.
“After we’d finished, they started cuddling and ripping us apart,” the grin on his face telling me that obviously it had proved a very pleasurable experience. “Then they all yelled for more,” he concluded.
It was one of those very hot, energy sapping days when I encountered Paul-the-mane, and Free’s bassist Andy Fraser.
In search of much needed liquid relief we tried in vain to find an establishment that specialised in MILK SHAKES!
Finally, in sheer desperation we settled on a rather pokey oasis in Soho, where Andy endeavoured to make his very own “Fraser Milk-Shake Special,” to the astonishment of a rather jaded and disgruntled waiter.
After sampling his concoction he informed me. “It’s quite funny, but we seem to be pulling in really mixed crowds.” His next statement proving most revealing. “We’re even getting a big skinhead following.
“It’s great. You get them all stompin` their big boots on the off-beat… and that’s a gas,” he revealed, Paul nodding in total agreement.
“And when we play the Castle in Tooting, we get rows and rows of West-Indians, all swaying in time to the music.”

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Paul and Andy are in agreement that there is no real short-cut to lasting success.
“Since we formed two years ago, we have continually worked clubs, big or small over and over, until we have built up a very loyal following,” Andy explained.
“During that time,” he continued, we hardly had any real publicity, which proves that the following we’ve now got is a strong one.
“It’s almost as if they feel that we really belong to them,” Paul added, “If you know what I mean.”
Slogging around the country seven nights a week, has been the apprenticeship for nearly every successful group, as Andy was keen to point out. “If a group gets a hit in their very early days, it can destroy them, because most of them are just not equipped for premature success.

A good act

“This is what would probably have happened to us,” he confessed.
“But in those two years we’ve got a good act together and improved as musicians.”
Indeed, Free have very definite ideas about the visual importance of their appeal. “A large majority of our audiences see us as a good-time band.
“Well I suppose we are,” Andy pondered, “but we are still very serious about our music. Physically, we try and project what we play.
“If you are going to play a dramatic chord or raving solo it’s only natural that you are going to move with it.
“Free are four individuals who perform with intensity, which accounts for the visual side of our act. Our gigs, have now turned into a big party atmosphere.
“Slightly frivolous, with all of us working on building up the excitement. I don’t like bands who form a glass wall and just play the stuff they usually busk in their front rooms, to the expense of the audience, and then expect to collect a big fee.”
At that precise moment, our waiter finally managed to usher all of us out into blazing sunlight, as he seemed to be more interested in doing a line in bangers and chips, than home-made milk shakes.

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If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

ARTICLE ABOUT Andy Fraser (Free) FROM SOUNDS, October 25, 1975

The ghost of that big band you were in can be very hard to shake. Everyone is only really interested in those songs that you used to play with the band you used to be a part of. Very frustrating indeed. And almost no one has more success as a solo artist than the successful band you made a name for yourself in. Fraser was no exception.
Read on.

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Fraser walks the line

By Martin Hayman

Small, almost runtish, curiously aloof without aiming in any way for effect, almost head in the clouds. These are the first impressions of Andy Fraser on re-acquaintance after a couple of years.
When I arrived at Andy`s sixteenth-century cottage in Surrey, I found the small, dynamic bassist, writer of Free`s biggest-ever hit (and constant repeat hit) `Alright Now`, in his garage putting up shelves.
Tiring of the necessary elbow work in driving the screws home, he takes out his hammer and gives them a wallop. “That`s me for today,” he says, and retires into the beetling house for a cup of tea. He tells me that it was once one of Henry VIII`s hunting lodges, though Andy lives there, without a seraglio, in a more conventional connubial bliss. It was one of the more obvious benefits conferred by the success of that single which is periodically revived and can be seen to draw normally reluctant celebrities on to the dance floor.
Since Free, Andy Fraser does not seem to have been much in the public eye. There was Toby, which was his own group, and there was the Sharks and their much-publicised hassles, both with each other and with Island Records. Fraser has severed his connections with both, and is now starting a new recording and playing career as a solo artist, feeling that it`s unlikely he will ever again find a group situation which worked with the same co-operation as Free.

RECAPTURE

It may be that Free spoiled him for any other group, both because it worked so well as a unit, and because of the personal interaction within the group and, not least, for its early and devastating success. When worldwide acclaim has been tasted at such an early stage, it can be difficult to recapture.
Many might say that, in trying to recapture that success, Fraser attempted too literally to emulate the group by trying to carry it off single-handed. That`s certainly how his album with Nick Judd sounded. This may merely be backbiting, for Andy presents a fiercely independent front to the world and is little swayed by current fashions or the social obligations of the rockbiz.
But the proof of the pudding, as always, is in the eating, and after the failure (comparatively speaking) of his last two ventures, we must conjecture that Andy Fraser`s latest venture will satisfy the public`s appetite. It is an album recorded at Muscle Shoals, home of those strong-arm players Barry Beckett, Roger Hawkins and Jimmy Johnson. A show will go on the road playing those same tunes at the beginning of November.

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TENSION

Sitting in Andy`s low-beamed rehearsal and playback room, listening to the album, it is obvious how very deeply into it Andy is. He sits there, his head slightly bowed under its short fringe of wiry black hair, and his sneakered foot is going like a hummingbird`s wing. First, some factual fill-in: it`s a solo album; Fraser playing the bass with Barry Beckett (keyboards), Roger Hawkins (drums), Jimmy Johnson (rhythm guitar), Pete Carr (lead guitar) and someone called `Roadie` on percussion. The production was overseen by Brad Shapiro, a seasoned operator, who flew to England before the sessions to select the songs that seemed likeliest from a bunch of Andy`s rough dubs.
This was Andy`s first time with a producer and he found such a method of working very much to his taste. It seems there was an interesting tension between the Muscle Shoals band and Andy`s bass playing, which is unconventional. Andy says that his aim was to kick them along a bit. Normally these guys can just about play in their sleep. Everything is set up for a perfect sound: it`s merely a question of plugging in. This is exactly what Andy did. He hooked up his own instrument with the existing bass amp and they took it away. It`s all very well thought out: Barry Beckett charts the songs and marks up the changes, and when there`s someone in the band who knows (and in Andy`s case, is passionately involved with) the song, the feel becomes apparent after the first few bars.
Some of Fraser`s songs are repetitious. For some this can be mesmeric, for others boring. Andy explains his thoughts about song composition and the `Hey Jude` chorus pitch as follows: “I try to get a very basic root for every song. Two or three words should sum up every song and that should always finish it off. That`s what it`s all about.” You will note that this applies with particular force to `Alright Now`.
The single cut from the album is likely to be a number called `Be Good To Yourself`. “Even as we were cutting it Brad said it sounded like a single.” It`s one of those numbers which sounds extremely short, and I even suggested it would have been a good idea to let the chorus run out. “Well I didn`t have anything to do with the mix – Brad took all the tapes away to Criteria Studios, Miami, and that`s the way he did it. But if you`ve got a single which lasts longer than three minutes your chances of getting it played on the radio are very slim.”

FACELESS

What then of the concert tour? The previous tour was booked in big halls and failed to sell out by any means. This one is to be another big one, and it will also be a lot more expensive, for Brian Gascoigne has been deputed to find a band which will be able to get, and improve on, the performances by the Muscle Shoals album band. Would Andy Fraser be enough of a pull, as a solo act plus band? “How I regard myself is as a bass player in a group that has some hits, and only one big one. Now the thing is that most bass players in groups remain pretty faceless. So I regard myself as a new act. I know that the reason we can do big gigs is partly that I`ve been in a big group. But for me it`s sort of like starting again as Andy Fraser, a new singer and songwriter who plays bass.”

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The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!
1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT John Bundrick FROM SOUNDS, July 13, 1974

You don`t see an article in the mainstream music press with this man too often, so it is with great pleasure that I can re-publish this one. This man have worked with, among others, Free, The Who, Johnny Nash and Bob Marley.
Enjoy yourselves while I`m away. Tonight I will travel from Oslo to London and then further on to Doncaster in the Northern part of England. After a night in a hotel there I will go on to Grimsby and Cleethorpes to watch a great game of football between MK Dons and Grimsby on Saturday. Then on Tuesday it is back to London for a short stay there before going back to Trondheim on Wednesday evening. I will try to post here while I am away. And if you should be anywhere near the locations on my journey – look me up and we`ll have a pint and a talk!

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Broken Arrows and Dark Saloons

John Bundrick (Rabbit to you folks) has been around. He`s worked with some of the hottest names in Texas as well as Johnny Nash, Suzi Quatro and the legendary Free and is currently in Kevin Ayers band. He`s travelled the world and been interviewed by Pete Makowski, not bad for a little ol` Southern boy uh? He`s also had one solo album, “Broken Arrows”, released, has another in the can and is currently working on a third, here PM finds out what makes Rabbit run…

Versatility is the keyword to Rabbit`s success… or downfall. Y`see being one of the cream session guys Rabbit`s versatility makes him compatible with any artist from say Suzi Quatro to Kevin Ayers, yet on album he can be so diverse that he feels maybe people aren`t too keen on his variation.
“I`m trying to get into my own… er bag, so`s that people can recognise me… but then again I want to keep mah versatility.”

ARCHETYPAL

In his mid twenties Rabbit`s an archetypal Texan dude, drawl an` all. His hair is permanently dishevelled, his eyes droop indicating that he`s permanently in need of sleep, his features are similar to Todd Rundgren; the toothy grin and general air of untogetherness.
Yet even at his most disorganised times – Rabbit`s music flows out of him like the brandy in his bottle neat, strong with a touch of finesse about it. Not unlike yer McCartneys and yer Rundgrens, Rabbit`s a musical magician, he seems to manipulate music into whichever form he wishes, like an artist selecting tones and contrasts, he seems to have complete command over what he`s doing.

OVER-INDULGENT

It goes without saying that Rabbit`s first album “Broken Arrows” should have been a commercial smash, although Rabbit can appreciate its lack of success. “That album was me, I had total command over it, so it might have been too over indulgent.”
Still, not to worry. Rabbit trucks on in Island studios, recording overdubbing and mixing tracks that may have originally been laid down a year ago. His whole flat is littered with tapes and cassettes with Free, Jess Roden and countless other artists he`s worked with, his life seems to consist of all night recording session and gigs.

DRINKING

Ask him what he was doing a couple of months ago and he`ll screw his face into a pained concentration and then sigh, “Shit, y`know I can`t remember… I remember getting kicked off a gig for being drunk, but I can`t remember who it was with.”
Rabbit vividly remembers his short stint with Baldry`s band on the Faces tour. “I got that job through the band`s bassist Archie Leggett, who`s an amazing character. The basic problem about the tour was that audiences only wanted to see the Faces.
“We got kicked off that tour for drinking too much, y`know Rod Stewart just came on one night and said that`s it. But bands like that shouldn`t have support acts anyway.”

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FLUIDITY

Next Rabbit lent his able keyboard playing hands to the Kevin Ayers band. “That, again, was through Archie. They were looking for a keyboard player and he suggested me.”
Rabbit refers to Ayers and Co as his “new friends”, he had never heard of Nico, Cale and is not familiar with style of music: “I found it strange, but I knew given time I could get into it. It was different, kinda freaky, so I`ve been trying to make it funky freaky, cause when I play something I like to put feeling into it.
“I really dig Eno, he`s funky. Y`know that track “Baby`s On Fire”, I`d really dig to do a funky version of that, there`s also a Cale number I`d like to do. Eno`s a really weird keyboard player, he marks out the keys on his moog for every number he does and the rest of the sounds he gets by turning all the knobs and controls… which is really amazing.
“Cale and Nico reminded me of people I knew in Texas around `69… but `74 style. Kevin`s (Ayers) attitude to life is amazing, the whole thing was so loose. It wasn`t like Free where on a bad night there`d be arguments and punch ups.
“The thing about Kevin was, that I didn`t know anything about him, before I joined. I was really surprised that he was going down so well, because I had never heard of him before. I tried to add something to the music. Ollie Halsall is good but he`s awful fucking fast… another versatile person.
“The live album`s a bit untogether, but the feel`s there. We were only together for about three days.”
Did they rehearse beforehand. “Oh sure, but that`s a different thing. We rehearsed a helluva lot, but the whole thing was relaxed. Kevin rehearses like Johnny (Nash), gets the basic thing together and lets the rest of it sort itself out.”
Another main source of Rabbit`s concentration is his new album “Dark Saloons” which has been recorded over a period of a year using different musicians, studios and facilities.
The album on first hearing is much stronger and has much more fluidity, continuation. “The album`s been ready for quite a while, but the company are looking for an angle to promote it. I think what I really need is a strong single, and to get that I think it would be better if someone else produced it. Someone who`s commercially minded.
“I`ve approached Micky Most and he`s interested, but I`ve been kinda backing out all the time. If I produced I`d just put down what I wanted but Micky`s a single maker, a hit maker and he`d know what sound to get, which song would be right, I need someone with that kind of confidence to show me the way.”

UNAFFECTED

But what about on the album side, would Rabbit hand over his ticket to a reputed producer?
“Yeh, that`s what I worried about. Y`see if Micky does the single and that goes into the charts then maybe the company might want him to produce… I don`t think so, I`d like to carry on producing because that`s what I dig the most. I know I make a few mistakes, but I won`t be able to expand if I don`t carry on.
“Another thing I`m worried about is if I make it on a single level, I`ll have to somehow capture an album market.”
There`s no doubt that Rabbit is capable of writing a hit single. I mean anyone who`s produced, written and arranged songs for Johnny Nash must have a strong commercial ear.
“The last thing I heard from Johnny he was in Los Angeles and looking for strong single material. Y`see it`s singles again.
“I like the album because it sounds more like a band, tougher. The next album I want to be softer but still with a lot of bite.”
One side of the album features Johnny Nash`s band Sons Of The Jungle, orchestra conducted by Marty Ford and a Swedish band. Side two features the ripping guitar of Snuffy Walden another quality Texan musician.
“I`d really like to have Snuffy in a band or at least on a permanent recording basis. His playing adds that magical quality into my songs.”
And so Rabbit coasts along, playing sessions, recording tracks (he`s even got some songs ready for his third album) pretty unaffected by the surrounding world…
“Ah`m terrible at words”, he would sigh, “I failed English, History even Physical Education… but I passed music”. Nuff said.

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Back Door, Kiki Dee, Mike Heron, Marty Wilde, KoKoMo, Fusion Orchestra, The Average White Band, Kevin Coyne, Ron Wood, Bridget St. John, Chip Taylor, Eric Clapton, Gryphon, Tangerine Dream.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Paul Kossoff FROM SOUNDS, November 17, 1973

These articles with interviews done with people that died long before their time takes on even more importance today. These articles, some videos and the music is what remains. There will be no more of either. I hope you appreciate this one, and that you, like me, feel what an absolute tragedy it is that Kossoff and all those other people that did go to soon, never got the chance to share their talents with us for a longer time.

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Koss – birth of a new concept

feature by Billy Walker

First out of the Free ruck is that diminutive demon of electric guitar Paul Kossoff with a new album, “Back Street Crawler”, and an overwhelming urge to get himself back on stage and playing to the people. But, as is always the case, finding the right set of musicians to work with is causing a little more problematical than the release of any album.

“Crawler” is a step towards the concept that Koss has been working on for some time now, but by no means expresses his ideas fully. It`s not an entirely “new” album either, in as much as some of the tracks have been around for about a year and therefore can`t possibly be the total expression of the concept:
“It`s like a set of things picked out from various time periods and put together,” Koss mused relaxing in a swivel chair in SOUNDS` office. “But I think it`s a bit like a skeleton, it`s touching on things to come. People seem to like it, which makes me feel really good.”
The once closely shorn Kossoff mane was back to full, flowing regence and that almost evil twinkle flashes through his eyes as before, Koss is looking better than he has for a long time and if “Crawler” is a success and the band manages to come together without too many hassles it could mean that we`ll hear him back at his best before long.
Nine years spent studying classical guitar has held Koss in good stead from many aspects but his first exposure to anything outside those confines came when he visited a club that had Mayall`s Bluesbreakers topping the bill:
“I`d stopped playing classical guitar for a while and wasn`t doing anything but then I saw Clapton.
“I couldn`t understand that sound, it was very new to me as it was to everyone else, and that`s what started me off playing again. But being a bit lazy I never sat down and copied note for note anything anyone ever did.”

But Koss has never denied the indelible impression Clapton`s playing had upon him and also that of Hendrix. In fact Hendrix more than anyone played a big part in Paul`s life, both musically and emotionally: “I went through a really weird stage, drugs and shit, and Hendrix was so in my mind all of the time and I played nothing but his records.
“I felt that I understood him and what he was doing so totally. Some of his things were very, very wild and wound up and people thought it was just freak-outs and a big noise, whereas I found out there was a meaning and idea and concept behind what he was doing.
“His songs were very emotional, very wide open and spacey, and at the same time being vulnerable and without protection he would die, and he did.” But had any of Jimi`s style or feel rubbed off on Koss? “Yeah, the depth maybe of human emotion and feelings that can be expressed in one form or another.
“It inspired me as well as took away any pre-ego about whether I was a good guitarist in what I did and made me want to better myself.” But apart from being emotionally effected by Hendrix guitar playing Koss was also forming his own forms and expressions at this time.
“The concept I have is one of an arc of sound, to try and pull out of people emotions and out of myself, aggressive, tender, soft. All the emotions are very human, they`re there and a lot of the time they`re very inhibited, especially with an audience and a lot of times in the playing, depending on the state of the player, his state of mind.
“But there`s nothing I want more than to be on the road with a good package to put over these thoughts, to get a good reaction…”

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“Time Away” from the new album in part expresses this new idea that Koss is concerned with and loves to work, in the studio or out of it, with musicians that fit tightly. “Something like that (“Time Away”) just came together, I just visited John Martyn at a session and we did it. The way I was playing on that track is the way I like to express myself, I think it`s a good example, it`s a very bluesy track and just drifts.
“I very much like the movement of musicians when there is an understanding – jam is a very overused word. When you get something that is being played off the cuff, maybe something very fast, really it`s moving in slow waves of communication, rising and falling, getting into different moods, I like that very much. I also like gigging songwriting – the actual vocal expression of it, the way to present it.”
But the opposite can also be true, working with people that Koss can`t relate to can be a real disaster. “I love to record with the right people, I hate to record with the wrong people, it`s a nightmare I have to go out and leave it. But my best playing I suppose has been on things that have been very loose, but I love to play on stage, it`s really what I want to do above all.”
And with Koss ready again to express himself on stage the question once again comes back to forming a band, and the chance of having to compare these musicians with those in Free. And what of the pressures of keeping a working unit together on the road?
“I`m older and wiser and I`ve learnt a lot about people, music and other musicians. Whereas when I was with Free I knew nothing about other musicians and the way they worked. As far as finding a singer, to me there`s no one that can sing like Paul Rodgers, and I`m so used to playing with him and around him and interchanging and all that.
“Obviously I`d have to get used to a new singer but I can`t think of anyone that is emotionally of such depth and technically good. I think there are people with great voices that I would love to play with but it would be a whole new thing for me which I realise and understand, willing to accept that they do not have that depth of thought behind the intonation.”

EMOTIONS

And that`s exactly what “Back Street Crawler” has in great depth – feeling. It runs through a great assortment of emotions and Kossoff`s playing varies from the quite tightness of “Crawler” to the more loose and floating dreaminess of “Time Away”, changes in style and emotions but who does Koss really admire, in the guitar field that`s working today?
Nobody except Townshend, I love Townshend from about every angle, his playing and the great variety of mood he gets. I admire his togetherness to hold a band like the Who together, which I think he does, his performance overall, visually and musically, at the same time being perfect.”
I`ve said it many times before, and after hearing “Back Street Crawler” I see no reason to change my mind, that Koss had, and still has, the magic and musicianship to be a really outstanding British guitarist. You can`t compare one musician with another like branded beers but Koss hasn`t really been given the benefit of a good listen to by the general public.
Sure, Free fans and a few on the perifery know about him and what he can do on top form but they also remember the off nights. But lurking within Koss` tiny frame is a great flood of emotionally charged music that when the full concept is realised Paul could be mentioned in the same breath as Clapton, Page and Beck, and of course he is by some of us already.

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Nils Lofgren, John Lennon, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Lane, Alice Cooper, Carlos Santana, Average White Band, Dale ‘Buffin’ Griffin, Magna Carta.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Paul Kossoff (Free, Back Street Crawler) FROM New Musical Express, March 20, 1976

A quite sad article today, remembering one musician who died way too early. Kossoff died from a pulmonary embolism,  after a blood clot in his leg shifted to his lung. One thing is when a man like Lemmy dies in his 70th year, many people would say that even 70 is too early these days, but at least he was allowed to live a full life. That was not the case for Kossoff and so many other people, famous or not, who died way before their time. May they all rest in peace and let us hope there is some kind of heaven that they and the rest of us will go.

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Paul Kossoff: a tribute

By Steve Clarke

There wasn`t even an inkling of the tragedy to come when Paul Kossoff and the rest of his band, Back Street Crawler, boarded the night flight from Los Angeles to New York just 13 days ago.
They`d just completed a two-month American tour, a new album had been recorded, and for the first time in five years it seemed Paul was set to re-live the kind of fulfilment he had experienced with Free in the late `60s.
But it was not to be.
When the plane was about to start its descent on John F. Kennedy airport, attempts to rouse an apparently sleeping Kossoff were unsuccessful. Oxygen was administered and a general panic ensued. And on landing, his colleagues – including his manager of seven years, Johnny Glover – were forced to leave the plane with Paul still on board, unaware that he was in fact dead.
This tuesday, Koss – as he was affectionately called by close friends and fans alike – was buried, just 25 years old.
The results of an autopsy will not be known for a week or two, but it is well known that he suffered a serious physical breakdown involving a stay in hospital some 12 months ago, and also that his condition at that time was related to an earlier heavier involvement with drugs.
Paul Kossoff had not been a particularly healthy man since the demise of Free, one of the great English rock bands, but it wasn`t until last year that matters came to a head. He had to be kept alive artificially for half an hour after his heart, lungs and kidney had packed in. He spent his 25th birthday in hospital recovering from this almost fatal illness.

Koss`s drug problem can be linked directly to the break-up of Free in 1970. In two years the band, one of a galaxy of blues-based bands coming out of this country in the late `60s, had shot from being a club attraction to one of Britain`s major groups.
Prior to Free, Koss had played with a more orthodox blues band, Black Cat Bones. And his life seemed clearly focused around music.
At the peak of their admittedly short-lived success there wasn`t a member of Free who was over 20. And when Paul Rodgers and Andy Fraser (the group`s major composers) decided to split the band in 1970, Koss and Simon Kirke wanted none of it.
When I talked to him last February, he had this to say about the break-up of Free: “I didn`t start all that drug stuff when I was with Free – that came afterwards. I just came to a standstill and got swept up by something else.”
Glover agreed with the guitarist`s opinion, “Simon and Koss would have been happy to play in Free forever. The split hit Koss worst of all – it took his life away”.
Koss and Kirke did in fact continue working together outside of Free to cut one album, “Kossoff, Kirke, Tetsu and Rabbit”, but in terms of a working band nothing materialised from this union. When Free reformed in `72 the major reason for the re-union was the guitarist`s growing drug problem.
“I really didn`t want to do it,” Kossoff said last February. “Or rather I wanted to do it, but I couldn`t take it. There was a lot of pressure on me – Paul wanted to get me well and he believed that if he got me up and playing that would do it. And there was pressure from Island (Free`s record company). I didn`t stand a chance. I had to do it. They sort of dragged me out of my pit.”

Glover put it stronger. “I conned him into coming back into the band. It was done almost to get Paul out of the drug thing. If we worked all the time we thought we would get him out of it.”
The reformation was only a partial success and differences between Fraser and Rodgers couldn`t be patched up and it wasn`t long before Fraser quit the band, to be replaced by Tetsu and Rabbit; it was Kossoff who later turned The Faces on to Tetsu.
A British tour was cancelled after Koss fell over and broke his foot during a sound-check at Newcastle City Hall. And when Free undertook a Japanese tour, they had to leave Koss at home because he was in such a bad state. For Free`s last ever gigs (supporting Traffic in America at the beginning of `73) a replacement guitarist was brought into the line-up and Kossoff doesn`t appear on all of the band`s last album, “Heartbreaker”, released around this time. One of Rodgers` songs, the hit single, “Wishing Well,” was in fact inspired by Kossoff`s problem:
Thrown down your guns, you might shoot yourself / Or is that what you`re trying to do / Put up a fight you believe to be right / And someday the sun will shine through / You`ve always been a good friend of mine / But you’re always saying farewell / The only time when you`re satisfied / Is with your feet in the wishing well.
Kossoff`s career as a guitarist stagnated between `72 and early `75 – when he returned to the stage, jamming with acoustic guitarist John Martyn – apart from his making a solo album, “Back Street Crawler”, released in `73 and recorded over the previous two years.
Despite its hotch-potch nature, anybody interested in Kossoff`s musical vision should have this album in their collection.

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In these “lost years” there were constant stories of Paul being admitted to various clinics to be straightened out, and while it`s difficult to sort out fact from fiction, there was probably a lot of truth in them.
Over a three-year period I`ve interviewed Koss three times. The first time was when he released “Back Street Crawler”, and then he was in extremely poor physical condition, his speech slurred and his manner distant. The second occasion was last February and the change in the man was radical. While it`s untrue to say that Paul was fresh-faced, his physical condition and mental attitude seemed much improved.
I remember him telling me during the first interview that he was sick of waking up and looking at “A sack of shit in the mirror”. Eighteen or so months later and he`d certainly come a long way beyond that miserable condition.
Moreover he was interested in playing again. No, that`s an understatement – he was just itching to play again and I remember him telling me what a buzz he got from appearing before an audience, and how he`d missed it. “Because I`ve started playing again I`m happy. I just feel happy. It seems that possibilities are opening up again in front of me and I`m looking forward instead of back.”
Koss was true to his word and months later he`d formed Back Street Crawler with a bunch of Texas musicians introduced to him by Rabbit.
When the band played in Newcastle last summer the reception which greeted the once-again dumpy little Koss was genuinely staggering. He obviously loved the adoration, and played up to it continually, coming on fierce and strong.
But again events overtook him and by August he was again in hospital, for the second time in just over a year.

Later, when we met him on the first (or was it the second?) day after he`d been discharged from a nursing home, he wasn`t in altogether bad shape. He told me that he hadn`t been doing an awful lot of dope prior to the illness, just the odd bit of this and that. There was no reason for him to lie since months earlier he`d confessed the sordid details of his Mandrax fits to me, and how for a short period he`d shot up heroin.
What did bother me at that meeting was that certain people seemed to be encouraging him to drink – and this was after doctors had warned him not to. I`m not saying that alcohol was being poured down his throat, but his wine glass was frequently filled. And this was a guy who`d just come out of hospital and had narrowly escaped death.
Considering what had gone down, Koss was soon back on the road, playing British dates in the autumn. A two-month American tour opened in the New Year, and it was from this series of gigs that Paul was returning when he died.
During his ten-week stay in the States, a second Back Street Crawler album was recorded. Called “Second Street” it`s out on Atlantic within the next few weeks.
When I asked Kossoff`s loyal manager, Glover, whether perhaps it had been early for him to be gigging again, he pointed out that the American tour was a relatively easy work-load with no more than three or four consecutive gigs. He also pointed out that Paul`s only interest in life was playing.
So what sort of shape had he been in recently? Fairly good, according to Glover, although he did say there`d been a fair amount of drink in Kossoff`s life recently, particularly before gigs.
“He was a very sensitive guy and he gets very nervous before playing.”

As fate would have it, Koss jammed with his old Free colleagues while in LA recently. And Glover says it`s Bad Company`s Simon Kirke who`ll be most cut up about Paul`s death. In the days, when Bad Company were being formed, there was actually talk of Paul joining Mick Ralphs on guitar within the band, but owing to his health, it just wasn`t on.
As a guitarist, Kossoff was a very special player indeed – as a listen to any of the Free albums will show. His licks were always charged with a vivid intensity, immediately recognisable, and he had the ability to build a solo from something relatively low-key to a raging torrent of sound.
Check out his solo on “Going Down Slow” from the first Free album, “Tons Of Sobs” and you`ll see what I mean.
Clapton once asked Koss how he achieved his unique tremelo sound, and while Koss doesn`t rank in the same peer group, he`s not all that far beyond – if only he`d been able to direct his talent in a better way.
Moreover, he had genuine stage presence, a lion`s mane of hair falling half way down the back of his stocky frame, his right arm crashing down mercilessly on a helpless Les Paul, mouth agape and energy pouring from his speaker stack.
So what went wrong with his personal life?
The answer Glover gives is the Free break-up. Kossoff himself though, put it like this: “I`ve been asking myself a long while, why? I think it`s something to do with my make-up as a person for a start-off… Escapism… to heighten things… masochism even – certainly main-lining is that.
“Once into drugs you get fairly morbid trains of thought – morbid interest in death and dead people. It`s quite horrific at times. I got into all that with Hendrix. Also the feeling of being in slight danger was like a romance. It`s very strange… I started to identify with Hendrix for instance.
“See, it was an escape from playing as well, `cause that`s a big responsibility in itself…”
Whatever, Koss is dead. He gave a lot of people many a buzz. Next time someone glamorises hard drugs, remember him.

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Bonnie Raitt, Kevin Ayers, Eddie and the Hot Rods, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Gary Glitter, Rod Stewart, Donald Byrd, Shel Talmy, Neil Young, Man.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

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