The Ultimate Story of Free
by David Clayton and Todd K. Smith
Turn the pages of time back to 1968 when 17 year-old Paul Kossoff joined 18 year-old Paul Rodgers on a make-shift stage at the Fickle Pickle for an inspired blues jam and who would have thought it meant much at all. Or the infamous meeting of the pair with 18 year-old drummer, Simon Kirke, and the elfin bassist, Andy Fraser, then only 15, for a loose set at London's Nags Head pub. In the years that have elapsed since the bands demise in 1973, Free have risen to the upper pinnacle of rockdom with many wondering how such a young band could have written such timeless classics. Their star shines bright as one of the true pioneering bands to have affected three generations. Quotes Island Record founder Chris Blackwell, They were the root of pop rock's most powerful music.
Now, for the first time, a beautifully crafted book has painted the landscape of the tumultuous rise and fall of this primer blues-rock band. Written by David Clayton and Todd K. Smith, the narrative guides the reader through the foundation and early influences that inspired four young musicians to combine forces and plunge headlong into the late sixties revolving music scene.
Entitled Heavy Load, this 300-page epic catalogues the long months of a struggling band playing smoke filled pubs eventually winning an overwhelming fan adoration. It marks the heady days of having a hit single and album, which eventually lead to the inevitable first split in 1971. The short-lived splinter bands, KKTR, Peace and Toby, are explored and the reasons for Frees reformation in 1972 explained. This volume runs right to the very end of their career in 1973 and into the early exploits of Bad Company, Sharks and Back Street Crawler leading inevitably to the tragic death of Paul Kossoff in 1976, the true end of Free.
Yet their legacy lives on through musicians as diverse as Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Black Crowes, Ocean Colour Scene, Paul Weller and Gov't Mule, all who have sighted them as a major influence. Their mentor, Alexis Korner, called them the last major band to come out of the sixties, and famed producer, Al Kooper hails them as the greatest band that ever lived.
In addition to interviewing the original members of Free, Heavy Load includes many memories from their contemporaries, Island Records label mates and fans while also being crammed with memorabilia and material from the bands personal archive and that of Free historian David Clayton. Over 430 photographs, many previously unpublished, adorn nearly every page giving the viewer an in-depth look into the hotbed of rock culture. It also features a comprehensive gig and recording itinerary along with an epilogue which brings the reader up to date with the careers of many of the books major characters and artists.
A collectors piece, Heavy Load is the complete story of a band whose end came to quickly. Free could have been as dominant as the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath. They were adored by their fans and may have sold records for years to come. They had the stuff legends are made of, and maybe in their own right they became such. But it was tragedy that would make them immortal.
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REVIEWS TO DATE:
It truly looks wonderful. It's really great to see this kind of quality work, especially about a group I love so much.
Chris Blackwell ~ Island Records founder
A wondrous literary achievement, Heavy Load is an all-encompassing salute to Free's timeless thunder rock legacy. Visually, the book is a knockout and an indispensable look at Free's monstrous body of work.
Ken Sharp ~ Associated Press
What a good read; the detail was immense. Good insight into the English scene of the time. A very deep well was Free. I think the book really hammers home how influential of a band they were. The book is a classic real pro job from front to back. The definitive story of Free. Anybody else that attempts a book on the band will just be wasting their time.
Dennis Banderio ~ Automatic Slim
The Free "Heavy Load" tome is really fantastic. I probably have 150 rock bios (and have read another 100 or so from various libraries) and, was once myself a writer for Rock'n'Roll mags in the USA and Canada This book is one of the top ten bios on R&R!
John Mars ~ Singer/Songwriter
In this day and age of the "Behind The Music" cookie cutter approach to musical biographies, "Heavy Load" refreshingly manages to paint Kossoff, Kirke, Fraser and Rodgers as vibrant yet human musicians, preventing them from being portrayed as Spinal Tappish caricature of rock stars. Because of the quality of the writing and the drama of the story, "Heavy Load" will appeal to fans and non-fans alike.
Given the perspective associated with the passage of time since the band's demise, the writers are able to give Free their deserved place in rock history as a truly significant and important musical force. With its heavy gloss page stock and superb packaging, "Heavy Load" gets my vote for coffee table book of the year.
Tom Guerra ~ Vintage Guitar
Ghosts haunt this immaculately researched, gorgeously laid out tribute to perhaps the UKs best loved and most missed of rock bands. The obvious spectre at the feast is Paul Kossoff, the teen prodigy who learned from masters, Clapton and Peter Green, then added his own magic twist, only to die unnecessarily young. Yet despite the tragedy at the heart of the Free story, Heavy Load remains a celebration. A labour of love that doesnt romanticize its subject or wallow in nostalgia.
Andy Robson ~ Classic Rock
For American fans of who have heard of the British foursome, there are two reasons: Frees 1970 hit All Right Now and the fact that to members later formed the wildly successful Bad Company. Of course, theres much more to the story of four teen-agers (the youngest was 16) who formed in 1968 and became one of Englands biggest sensations, only to fall victim to there own success. This new book so-authored by British and American writers tells the bittersweet saga.
Mark Voger ~ Asbury Press
A marvelous job and absolutely tremendous piece of work.
Bob Schaefer ~ Record Archive
#1 Bestsellers list in Mojo ~ May, June July (2001)
5 Stars ~ Classic Rock
5 Stars ~ Amazon.com
For more information on Free, Bad Company or Paul Rodgers visit: www.allrightnow.com
Bad Company official web site: www.bad-company.com
Paul Rodgers official web site: www.paulrodgers.com
For information on John Rabbit Bundrick visit: www.johnbundrick.freeserve.co.uk
or email @: firstname.lastname@example.org