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Artist: Free

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Free (Rock Band) Free were an English rock band formed in London in 1968 best known for their 1970 signature song "All Right Now". They disbanded in 1973 and lead singer Paul Rodgers went on to become a frontman of the band Bad Company along with Simon Kirke on drums.[1] Lead guitarist Paul Kossoff formed Back Street Crawler and died from a drug-induced heart failure at the age of 25 in 1976.[2] Bassist Andy Fraser formed Sharks.[3] 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".[4] The song helped secure them a place at the huge Isle of Wight Festival 1970 where they played to 600,000 people.[5] By the early 1970s, Free was one of the biggest-selling British blues rock groups; by the time the band dissolved in 1973, they had sold more than 20 million albums around the world and had played more than 700 arena and festival concerts. "All Right Now," remains a rock staple, and had been entered into ASCAP's "One Million" airplay singles club.[6][7] Rolling Stone has referred to the band as "British hard rock pioneers".[8] The magazine ranked Rodgers No. 55 in its list of the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time",[9] while Kossoff was ranked No. 51 in its list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".[8] Free were signed to Island Records in the UK and A&M Records in North America. Both labels became part of the PolyGram group in 1989, then Universal Music Group in 1998; UMG now controls the band's catalogue worldwide.[10] History Formation, Early Years and Breakthrough Most remarkable about the birth of Free was the young age of the band members who came together to rehearse and play their first gig on the evening of 19 April 1968 at the Nag's Head pub, which was at the junction of York Road and Lavender Road in Battersea, London.[11] Bass player Andy Fraser was 15 years old, lead guitarist Paul Kossoff was 17, and both lead singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke were 18. By November of that year, having been given the name Free by Alexis Korner, 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 m
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Free: Chronicles Record Collector, May 2005

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CURRENTLY ATTEMPTING the almost impossible task of filling Freddie Mercury's shoes in a new-look Queen, it's hard to imagine Paul Rodgers landing any further from his no-nonsense Brit blues roots.

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Free were formed in 1968, around the same time as Led Zeppelin, a band with a not dissimilar musical gameplan. But while the latter evolved into a monstrous juggernaut and a world force in heavy rock, Rodgers and friends stayed truer to their original blue(s)print until splitting in 1973. In the late Paul Kossoff they had a guitarist of extraordinary breadth and dexterity, underpinned by the magnificent rhythm section of bassist Andy Fraser and drummer Simon Kirke. Rodgers, however, was the real ace up the sleeve; more than capable of providing a raw-throated wail, he was also at ease with tender, soulful material, which will come as a welcome surprise to listeners familiar only with rock-outs like 'All Right Now'.

'Don't Say You Love Me' and 'Be My Friend' are both beautifully understated songs that could easily have found homes with torchmeisters like Sam Cooke or Otis Redding. Similarly, 'The Stealer' or 'Catch A Train' illustrate why Kossoff often left his admirers and contemporaries (Page, Clapton, etc) awestruck. Longtime fans may already have invested in Island Records' 2000 box set, but for anyone else, especially those delving into the history of classic British rock for the first time, this is pretty much an essential purchase.

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Top Albums

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Fire And Water

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The Free Story

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Chronicles

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Free

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Top Songs

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All Right Now

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Wishing Well

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Fire And Water cover art

Fire And Water

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Mr. Big

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The Stealer

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Be My Friend cover art

Be My Friend

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Oh I Wept

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