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!


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.”


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.”


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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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.


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…”


“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.”


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.


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!

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2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
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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.


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.


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.


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!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to:
2. The offer should be 15 $ (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) FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, February 15, 1975

One of the great musical talents who died too young were Paul Kossoff. He died from heroin-related heart problems and it is quite eerie to read this interview with him, in print a year before his untimely death. He was cremated and interred at the Golders Green Crematorium. His epitaph reads “All Right Now”.


No, Paul Kossoff didn`t win any of our 1975 pollawards, though he must have taken more than a passing interest in the fortunes of his former associates in Bad Company. In fact, about all he`s done in the past two years is lie low, struggling with a drug habit of terrifying proportions. Here he tells Steve Clarke how he climbed…


Throw 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
And the only time when you`re satisfied
Is with your feet in the wishing well

Paul Rodgers wrote these lyrics some time in 1972 with Paul Kossoff in mind, the guitarist with whom he`d spent the last four years of his professional life in Free. “Wishing Well” gave Free their last singles hit and pinpointed one of the reasons why Free had fallen apart – Kossoff`s drug problem.
Koss, as he`s affectionately known by those close to him, had had it in him to join the ranks of Great English Rock Guitarists (hopefully he still has). Hadn`t Clapton himself sought Kossoff`s advice on just how he achieved his unique tremelo sound, when as part of Blind Faith, who were topping the bill over Free on the latter`s first American tour in 1969, he`d seen Koss play in a New York club?
“They (Blind Faith) came to see us and we were dead nervous, what with them sitting twenty yards away. Afterwards Clapton came round and said, `How do you do that tremolo?` I looked at him and said, `You must be joking` cause that`s exactly how I felt – I thought he was taking the piss, but he wasn`t,” is the incident as Kossoff remembers it.

But instead of establishing himself as the kind of guitarist who everyone would want on their session, he became further and further embroiled with heavy drugs after the initial Free split in 1970, so that Paul Kossoff became, as one person involved with Island Records at the time said, something of a bad joke.
Kossoff`s performance on Free`s debut “Tons Of Sobs” album had made it clear that here was one of England`s most promising blues-based guitarists. THat was in 1968 and Kossoff was a mere 18. As Free developed it became apparent that Kossoff had a style all his own; intense screaming lead phrases, coupled with menacing power chords.
He looked pretty startling too, with a lion`s mane of hair falling half way down the back of his small stocky frame, while Kossoff`s stance was the kind rock dreams are made of; his right arm crashing mercilessly down on a helpless black Les Paul, his face a mess of contortions (“I don`t contort my face deliberately when I play, it would probably be hard not to do it”) as the notes howled their way out of the Marshall stacks.
Kossoff had an unlikely background for a rock musician being the son of actor David Kossoff, a man whose public life has always been spiced with a certain religious ambience. And when Koss landed up in court in autumn 1973 to face a charge for driving under the influence of drugs or drink, his father was there to speak up for his wayward son.

Koss remembers the bust, “They found various things on me – some tyranol (a sleeping tablet), and what I thought was a phial of cocaine, though it turned out to be something else that wasn`t a restricted drug, so I wasn`t charged for possession.”
Instead the guitarist was fined £200 on a driving charge, on condition that he took hospital treatment for his problem. If he`d refused it`s likely that a prison sentence would have been effected.
Koss spent three weeks in hospital, and by March 1974 he was “straight” again. His good health lasted some three months, then once more his life became dominated by dope.
“I didn`t start all the drug stuff when I was with Free – that came afterwards. I just came to a standstill and got swept up by something else. I went through just about everything in the last couple of years, and ended up mainlining for a short period which I stopped because that was it, the end,” Koss told me last week.

A few days earlier the guitarist had been gigging with another of Island`s musicians, John Martyn, at Bristol University and at London`s Victoria Palace where the gig was attended by Kossoff`s family. So glad was his father to see Paul on stage again that he`d sent his son a telegram.
Although only contributing to a couple of Martyn`s numbers, his decision to play once more in front of an audience is hopefully a turning point in Kossoff`s career, and he`ll continue gigging with Martyn for the remainder of the tour.
This time Koss has been straight a month, and although it`s simply not on to describe the guitarist, now 24, as freshfaced, he does look healthy, and bears little resemblance to the person I interviewed in 1973. Then Kossoff`s speech was little more than a whisper, his appearance tatty and his manner one that is most conveniently referred to as distant. Last week his eyes were bright, his conversation eloquent and punctuated by mischievous laughter. He`d just had his hair cut, and maybe it was just chance that his visit to the hair-dressers coincided with his first meeting with a journalist and photographer for a long time, but…

As he quickly points out, he`s been “straight” before, but goes on to say that it feels different this time, “Because I`ve started playing again. I`m happy, you know? I just feel happy. It seems that possibilities are opening up again in front of me, and I`m looking forward instead of back.”
Johnny Glover, the ex-Spencer Davies roadie who managed Free throughout their entire career, and who still manages Koss, agrees, “He`s got things he wants to do this time. Also he`s moving from his house off Portobello Road. People would just pour in there with dope, and basically he`s a weak character when it comes to dope.” Kossoff is spending his time between moving at Glover`s house.
Although Koss got into a few pills in his Golder`s Green mod days, it wasn`t until the first Free split that drugs began to play a major part in his life. Says Glover, “Simon and Koss didn`t want to break the band up, they would have been happy to play in Free forever. The split hit Paul worst of all – it took his life away.”
Kirke and Kossoff did in fact stay together to cut the “Kossoff, Kirke, Tetsu and Rabbit” album while Rodgers and Fraser had their own shortlived bands, Peace and Toby respectively.

Kossoff himself doesn`t think his reasons for getting further and further into hard drugs are quite that simple: “I`ve been asking myself a long time, Why? I think it`s something to do with my make-up as a person for a start-off. Suddenly I wasn`t travelling about. Suddenly I wasn`t playing. All the natural highs that I was used to had somehow disappeared, and I was almost led by hand into it.”
Elaborating on the possible reasons he says, “Escapism…to heighten things…masochism even – certainly main-lining is that. I don`t think I was attracted in the first place anyway – obviously I was given some and it snowballed.
“Once into drugs you get into fairly morbid trains of thought – morbid interest in death and dead people, stuff like that. 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. I spent more time listening and dreaming than playing.
“See, it was an escape from playing as well, cause that`s a big responsibility in itself. You have to prove yourself. I didn`t want to pick up a guitar. I felt wrong with it for a long time. It was very heavy on the head. I got it well out of proportion.”


Musically, Koss didn`t do a lot between the original Free split in 1970, and their reformation in `72, with the exception of the “Kossoff, Kirke, Tetsu and Rabbit” album, and attempts to get his own solo album together (when “Back Street Crawler” eventually came out in `73 the work on it had been scattered over a couple of years), plus the odd session like those in Atlanta for Jim Capaldi`s first solo record “Oh How We Danced”.
After working on the sessions, Kossoff flew to Los Angeles for a holiday, and according to somebody who was around the guitarist at this time, was stopped nightly by cops on Sunset Boulevard for his somewhat erratic driving. The fifth or sixth night that this happened, the police arrested him. After spending the night in a Los Angeles jail, the charges of drunken driving were dropped on the condition that Kossoff would take the next flight from Atlanta back home.
Kossoff is reported to have been doing a lot of cocaine at the time, and it`s said that he got through a thousand dollars in just one day on nothing in particular.

But, as he acknowledges himself, his biggest problem was mandies, “I used to wake up in the morning and take three, and carry  on through the day,” he says, forcing the words out of his mouth very quickly, as though he`d rather not talk so explicitly about the problem.
“I remember falling on my stereo or something and cracking my head open. I was taking so many mandies that when I stopped taking them about five days later I`d have what was very similar to an epileptic fit, though it wasn`t. It was like a withdrawal, only suddenly, like that…” He snaps his fingers to demonstrate the suddeness of these attacks.
“I`d be on the floor – smash, smash, smash – terrible. That`s were I got that scar from,” he says pointing to his forehead. “I knocked two teeth out, and there`s another scar here,” he points to somewhere above his hair-line.
“It was ridiculous.”
When Free re-formed to record “Free at Last” in 1972, it was partly to rescue Kossoff who, in his own words, was still very shakey.
“I really didn`t want to do it. Or rather, I wanted to do it, but I really couldn`t take it. It was very unpleasant. There was a lot of pressure on me – Paul wanted to get me well and I believe he figured that if he got me up and playing that would do it. And there was pressure from Island. I didn`t stand a chance. I had to do it. They sort of dragged me out of my pit.”

Glover goes as far to say that “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 it would get it out of him.”
In terms of the actual quality of gigs the reformation was only a partial success. After several months Fraser quit, and Tetsu and Rabbit were brought into the band (it was Kossoff who later put The Faces onto Tetsu). The majority of a British tour had to be cancelled after Kossoff fell over and broke his foot during a sound-check at Newcastle City Hall, and at a gig at The Albert Hall, Koss broke a string and couldn`t retune his guitar. As Glover diplomatically puts it, “The playing wasn`t too great then.”
Of that period in Free, Kossoff says himself, “I got out of it a few times on stage, and I`ve fallen over and not been able to do gigs. I feel really crap about all that.”
Eventually it got to the stage where Free had to undertake a Japanese tour with Rodgers playing guitar himself, while Kossoff stayed at home. And for Free`s last ever gigs, supporting Traffic in early `73, Free took former Osibisa guitarist Wendell Richardson along to America.

Kossoff began to find it difficult to get other musicians to work with him. Glover; “He got himself a bad reputation and people didn`t want to play with him.”
Jess Roden, who sang and co-wrote one of the cuts on “Back Street Crawler” with Koss, agrees; “He has been a difficult person to know through the years. When we did the things for his album he was standing up and coherent, but he was still into a lot of naughty things. People haven`t been able to rely on him. I`ve always believed he was a magical guitar player but if he came in the studio falling down there`s not much you could do. I think if he jams around he`ll be able to settle down again. We`d like him to jam with us. I asked him to come down last night, but he didn`t have any transport.”
Kossoff himself is aware of his reputation as unreliable; “It`s another one of the things you want to escape from – the guilt -because I feel I`ve let all sorts of people down all over the place for a long period. It`s something that`s hard to get over as well.”

According to Glover, Kossoff and his father have been very close recently, and the latter has taken an active interest in his son`s problems, although, again according to Glover, David Kossoff wasn`t always aware of Paul`s problem.
There has been considerable financial help from father to son, as Koss had got to the stage where he`d sold eleven of his guitars to pay for dope, and was running out of money fast.
“Obviously he was getting very concerned about the whole situation,” says Kossoff of his father`s attitude to his involvement with dope. “He was getting desperate. He didn`t do what you think a lot of parents might do in the circumstances, he didn`t shut me out of his life. A lot of parents would close the doors on you. My parents didn`t do that. They were always willing to help in any way they could.”
A former employee of Island Records goes so far as to say that Paul wouldn`t be alive today if it wasn`t for his father, saying, “He`s lucky he had his old man around. His Dad came up and rescued the kid.”
During the past two years Kossoff`s performances have been limited to say the least, amounting to a couple of slightly bizarre gigs with the late Graham Bond, and one rehearsal with the abortive Frankie Miller/Andy Fraser band, which at the time also included drummer Mike Kelly.

He misses working in front of an audience a great deal, something which his recent work with John Martyn has really brought home to him. “There`s such a lot of difference between playing off-stage and on, because I always play to the people, always have. I`ve just realised that when I get up there they open me up, and in turn I try and open them up.”
After the John Martyn tour, Kossoff plans to work with an eight piece outfit calling themselves The Basing Street Band who are getting themselves together for a one-off university tour, and after that his own band.
“I`ve been known to say this a number of times,” he says, as though already envisaging the wave of cynicism that greets his periodic announcements that a new Kossoff band is imminent.
His feelings towards the whole Bad Company success story seem devoid of envy or bitterness; if he`s missed the boat then it`s his own fault, is his way of thinking on that situation. He does, however, think that Free were a much better band than Bad Company.

“They somehow have more appeal than Free ever had. Maybe it`s because they`re better handled. It comes across that way. It doesn`t bother me that Paul and Simon have had such a lot of success recently, I just hope they`re happy. I`d like to be playing with them and I will do again. I know that. We`re just that close.”
Does he see a lot of them then?
“No. But whenever we do meet there`s always sparks of some sort flying.”
Kossoff did in fact see Bad Company at The Rainbow before Christmas, which must have been quite a poignant moment for him. Was he impressed with what he saw?
“Yeah I was. I enjoyed it for what it was, though Mick Ralphs doesn`t knock me out.”
“I don`t know. He seems to…I don`t know how frank you want me to be.”
Very frank.
A long pause before…”Mick Ralphs has got all the notes and the technique. He doesn`t have much drive though. Mind you I`m very fussy. He`s taken a lot of things I used to play in fact, and made them sound a bit watery. That`s my opinion. It`s not big-headedness or anything like that.”
I know what he means. I hope he gets up and proves it though.

Queen on the rise to superstardom.

Queen on the rise to superstardom.

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Led Zeppelin, Pete Kleinow, Caravan, Montrose, Peter Hammill, Blue Öyster Cult, Alice Cooper, Lenny Bruce, Eric Clapton, Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, Millie Jackson, Richard Digance, Bev Bevan (ELO), Gene Vincent, Charley Pride.

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

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