Monday, November 22, 2010

Free, "All Right Now"


Music that I hear while traveling often gets deeply engraved in my memory. In October of 1970, taking my first vacation from my first full-time job as an associate at a New York City law firm, I went to visit some law school friends in California. Heading west on a United Airlines DC-8 to Los Angeles, I listened to the "contemporary" track on the plane's sound system. I hadn't been listening to radio much over the preceding few months, so the songs I heard were mostly new to me. Among them were "I'll Be There" by the Jackson Five, "Lola" by the Kinks, "Green Eyed Lady" by Sugar Loaf, "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple, and "All Right Now" by Free. The last, by a band I hadn't heard of before, impressed me with its pounding beat and compelling vocal. Free was a relatively short-lived but influential British band. Initially a blues group, their music evolved into the straight ahead hard rock style exemplified by "All Right Now", which became a big hit and made their album Fire and Water sell well. Despite their success, Free disbanded in 1971, largely because of the drug problems of lead guitarist Paul Kosoff, who would die on March 19, 1976 (my thirtieth birthday) while on a flight from L.A. to New York, the opposite direction from that in which I was going when I first heard "All Right Now". Free's lead singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke later became part of Bad Company.

The clip above is courtesy of frozenfish91, whose home page on YouTube features a clip of Paul Kosoff playing guitar on an instrumental piece called "Time Away", which he did with the group Back Street Crawler after leaving Free. It is accompanied by a series of still photos and short videos documenting Paul's life and career.