Andy Fraser

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Andy Fraser
FreeWinwood1970.jpg
Steve Winwood and the members of Free in Amsterdam, 1970. From left to right: Winwood, Fraser, Paul Rodgers, Simon Kirke & Paul Kossoff
Background information
Birth nameAndrew McLan Fraser
Born(1952-07-03)3 July 1952
Paddington, London, England
Died16 March 2015(2015-03-16) (aged 62)
Temecula, California, United States
Genres Hard rock, blues-rock
Occupation(s)Musician, singer-songwriter
Instruments
  • Bass guitar
Years active1968–2015
Associated acts Free, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, Sharks
External video
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg Oral History, Andy Fraser reflects on his greatest musical influences. Interview date November 3, 2014, NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Oral History Library

Andrew McLan Fraser (3 July 1952 – 16 March 2015) was an English songwriter and bass guitarist whose career lasted over forty years, and includes two spells as a member of the rock band Free, which he helped found in 1968, aged 15.

Free (band) English rock band formed in London in 1968

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. Lead guitarist Paul Kossoff formed Back Street Crawler in 1975, but died from a pulmonary embolism at the age of 25 in 1976. Bassist Andy Fraser formed Sharks.

Contents

Peak years (1960s and 1970s)

Fraser was born in the Paddington area of Central London and started playing the piano at the age of five. He was trained classically until twelve, when he switched to guitar. By thirteen he was playing in East End, West Indian clubs and after being expelled from school in 1968 at the age of 15, enrolled at Hammersmith College of Further Education. There, another student, Sappho Korner, introduced him to her father, pioneering blues musician and radio broadcaster Alexis Korner, who became a father figure to him. Shortly thereafter, upon receiving a telephone call from John Mayall who was looking for a bass player, Korner suggested Fraser; still only 15, he was now in a professional band and earning £50 a week, although it ultimately turned out to be a brief tenure.

Paddington area within the City of Westminster, in central London

Paddington is an area within the City of Westminster, in central London. First a medieval parish then a metropolitan borough, it was integrated with Westminster and Greater London in 1965. Three important landmarks of the district are Paddington station, designed by the celebrated engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel and opened in 1847; St Mary's Hospital; and Paddington Green Police Station.

Central London innermost part of London, England

Central London is the innermost part of London, in the United Kingdom, spanning several boroughs. Over time, a number of definitions have been used to define the scope of central London for statistics, urban planning and local government. Its characteristics are understood to include a high density built environment, high land values, an elevated daytime population and a concentration of regionally, nationally and internationally significant organisations and facilities.

Hammersmith district in west London, England

Hammersmith is a district of west London, England, located 4.3 miles (6.9 km) west-southwest of Charing Cross. It is the administrative centre of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, and identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.

Korner was also instrumental in Fraser's next move, to the influential band Free, which consisted of Paul Rodgers (vocals), Paul Kossoff (guitar) and Simon Kirke (drums). Fraser produced and co-wrote the song "All Right Now" with Rodgers, a No. 1 hit in over 20 territories and recognised by ASCAP in 1990 for garnering over 1,000,000 radio plays in the United States by late 1989. In October 2006, a BMI London Million-Air Award was given to Rodgers and Fraser to mark over 3 million radio and television plays of "All Right Now". [1] Simon Kirke later recalled: "'All Right Now' was created after a bad gig in Durham. We finished our show and walked off the stage to the sound of our own footsteps. The applause had died before I had even left the drum riser. It was obvious that we needed a rocker to close our shows. All of a sudden the inspiration struck Fraser and he started bopping around singing 'All Right Now'. He sat down and wrote it right there in the dressing room. It couldn’t have taken more than ten minutes." [2]

Paul Rodgers English singer-songwriter

Paul Bernard Rodgers is an English singer, songwriter and musician. In the 1960s and 1970s, he was vocalist of Free and Bad Company. After stints in two less successful bands in the 1980s and early 1990s, The Firm and The Law, he became a solo artist. He has more recently toured and recorded with Queen. Rodgers has been dubbed "The Voice" by his fans due to his powerful and bluesy voice. A poll in Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number 55 on its list of the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time". In 2011 Rodgers received the British Academy's Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music.

Paul Kossoff English musician

Paul Francis Kossoff was an English blues rock guitarist. He was most notably a member of the band Free.

Simon Frederick St George Kirke is an English rock drummer best known as a member of Free and Bad Company.

Fraser also co-wrote two other hit singles for Free, "My Brother Jake" and "The Stealer". [3] Free initially split in 1971, and Fraser formed a trio, Toby, with guitarist Adrian Fisher (later with Sparks), and drummer Stan Speake. [4] Material was recorded but not released, and Fraser re-joined Free in December 1971. He left for the second time in June 1972.

My Brother Jake

"My Brother Jake" is a song and single by British band, Free. Written by lead singer Paul Rodgers and bass guitarist Andy Fraser, it was first released in the UK in 1971.

Adrian Fisher was a British guitarist and member of the band Toby, Sparks and Boxer. Fisher played on Sparks' first two Island albums Kimono My House and Propaganda.

Sparks (band) American rock and pop band

Sparks is an American pop and rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1972 by brothers Ron (keyboards) and Russell Mael (vocals). The duo formed in 1968 under the name Halfnelson. Known for their quirky approach to songwriting, Sparks' music is often accompanied by intelligent, sophisticated, and acerbic lyrics, and an idiosyncratic, theatrical stage presence, typified in the contrast between Russell's animated, hyperactive frontman antics and Ron's deadpan scowling. They are also noted for Russell Mael's distinctive wide-ranging voice and Ron Mael's intricate and rhythmic keyboard playing style.

After leaving Free, Fraser formed Sharks with vocalist Snips (later Baker Gurvitz Army), guitarist Chris Spedding and drummer Marty Simon. Despite being well received by the critics, especially for Spedding's tasteful guitar work (Crawdaddy Lead Review, Bruce Malamut Vol. 27, 1973), Fraser left after their debut album, First Water (1973).

Sharks (band formed 1972) British rock band, formed in September 1972

Sharks are a British rock band, formed in September 1972, by the ex-Free bass player, Andy Fraser, upon his departure from Free. They were signed to Island Records and were rated by critics, especially for Chris Spedding's tasteful guitar work. The initial line-up consisted of Fraser, Snips (vocals), Spedding (guitar) and an American, Marty Simon (drums).

Baker Gurvitz Army were an English rock group. Their self-titled debut album featured a blend of hard rock laced with Ginger Baker's jazz- and Afrobeat-influenced drumming. The lengthy "Mad Jack" was that album's outstanding track, and the album hit the US Billboard 200 chart, and peaked at number 22 in the UK Albums Chart. The two following albums contained similar material, although neither charted in the UK nor the US.

Chris Spedding English rock and roll and jazz guitarist

Christopher John Spedding is an English musician, singer, guitarist, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and record producer. In a career spanning more than 40 years, Spedding is best known for his studio session work. By the early 1970s, he had become one of the most sought-after session guitarists in England. Spedding has played on and produced many albums and singles. He has also been a member of eleven rock bands: The Battered Ornaments, Frank Ricotti Quartet, King Mob, Mike Batt and Friends, Necessaries, Nucleus, Ricky Norton, Sharks, Trigger, and The Wombles.

He then formed the Andy Fraser Band, a trio with Kim Turner on drums and Nick Judd on keyboards. They released two albums, Andy Fraser Band and In Your Eyes, both in 1975, before that also folded. Attempts to form a band with Frankie Miller came to nothing, and Fraser relocated to California to concentrate on songwriting. He crafted hits for Robert Palmer, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan, Rod Stewart and Paul Young.

Francis John Miller is a Scottish rock singer-songwriter.

Robert Palmer (singer) English singer-songwriter and musician

Robert Allen Palmer was an English singer-songwriter, musician, and record producer. He was known for combining soul, jazz, rock, pop, reggae, blues. He found success both in his solo career and with the Power Station, and had Top 10 songs in both the UK and the US.

Joe Cocker English rock and blues singer

John Robert "Joe" Cocker was an English singer. He was known for his gritty voice, spasmodic body movement in performance, and distinctive versions of popular songs of varying genres.

Fraser's most famous compositions remain "All Right Now" and "Every Kinda People", which Robert Palmer recorded in 1978 for his Double Fun album.

Later period (post–1970s)

In 1984, Fraser released another album of his own. Fine, Fine Line featured ex-Back Street Crawler drummer Tony Braunagel, Bob Marlette (keyboards), Michael Thompson (guitar) and David Faragher (bass), with Fraser contributing vocals. One of the songs on the album, "Do You Love Me" — a cover of the Berry Gordy Jr.-penned song — spent five weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 82 in March 1984. [5]

Having been diagnosed with HIV, he was later diagnosed with Kaposi's sarcoma, a form of cancer that had been very rare until the onset of the AIDS epidemic. This time-line was called into question by Fraser's subsequent revelation that he was homosexual. [6] He played bass with former Free colleague Paul Rodgers at Woodstock '94, but otherwise kept a low profile until 2005, when a new release, Naked and Finally Free, appeared. At the time of the new album's release, Fraser was interviewed by Dmitry M. Epstein for the DME website and revealed: “To be quite honest, I never thought of myself as a bass-player. I actually only used the bass-guitar because the other kids in our school-band wanted to be the singer, or drummer, or guitarist. I have always thought of myself as doing whatever was necessary to make the whole thing work. I’m happy adding piano, or tambourine, or anything that helped”. [6]

In early 2006, writing for Vintage Guitar magazine, Tom Guerra conducted a comprehensive interview with Fraser, covering his career, influences and instruments and, in April, Fraser responded to the revival of interest in his music by announcing two rare live shows at Southern California's Temecula Community Arts Theatre on 4 May. The shows, accompanied by an eight-piece band, were his first live performances since the 1994 Woodstock reunion.

In 2008, he wrote and sang the song "Obama (Yes We Can)", to support the campaign to elect Barack Obama as president of the United States. [7]

Founded by Fraser, Mctrax International was incorporated as Mctrax International Corporation in California in 2005. Headquartered in southern California, Mctrax International and its subsidiaries MctraxMedia, MctraxMotion and MctraxStudios were originally created as an outlet for his prolific songwriting.

In May 2010, Fraser was interviewed for BBC Two's documentary series titled Rock 'n' Roll. The project includes a five-part documentary, narrated by British music show anchor-man Mark Radcliffe plus online and radio content. "The documentary aims to explain the success of some of the greatest bands of the past 50 years, including the Who, the Police, the Doors, Bon Jovi and the Foo Fighters".

In mid-2013, Fraser played a supporting role as bassist in the band of protege Tobi Earnshaw for a short series of UK dates. Accompanying Tobi Earnshaw and Fraser was a veteran ally, guitarist Chris Spedding. Fraser produced and mentored Earnshaw on a number of album releases.

Death

Fraser died on 16 March 2015 at his home in California of a heart attack caused by Atherosclerosis. [8] Fraser is survived by his daughters Hannah and Jasmine Fraser. [9]

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All Right Now 1970 single by Free

"All Right Now" is a single by the English rock band Free. The song, released in 1970, hit #2 on the UK singles chart and #4 on the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. "All Right Now" originally appeared on the album Fire and Water, which Free recorded on the Island Records label, formed by Chris Blackwell. In 1991, the song was remixed and re-released, reaching #8 on the UK singles chart.

<i>Tons of Sobs</i> album by Free

Tons of Sobs is the debut album by English blues rock band Free, released in the UK on 14 March 1969. While the album failed to chart in the UK, it did reach #197 in the US. Free are cited as one of the definitive bands of the British blues boom of the late 1960s even though this is the only album of their canon that can strictly be called blues rock. According to bass player Andy Fraser, the title effectively summed up the album.

<i>Free</i> (Free album) album by Free

Free is the second album by English rock group Free, recorded and released in 1969. The band had spent time touring after their debut album Tons of Sobs the previous year, and there is a marked difference in the musicianship of the band as well as Paul Rodgers's voice. Whereas Tons of Sobs had been produced by Guy Stevens, Free was produced by the head of Island Records, Chris Blackwell.

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<i>Highway</i> (Free album) Free album

Highway is the fourth studio album by English rock band Free. It was recorded extremely quickly in September 1970 following the band's success at the Isle of Wight Festival but with an attitude of relaxation, the band having achieved worldwide success with their previous album Fire and Water and the single "All Right Now". It is a low-key and introspective album compared with its predecessors.

<i>Free Live!</i> 1971 live album by Free

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<i>Free at Last</i> (Free album) album by Free

Free at Last is the fifth studio album by English rock band Free. The band had broken up in April 1971 due to differences between singer Paul Rodgers and bassist Andy Fraser but had now reformed.

<i>Heartbreaker</i> (Free album) album by Free

Heartbreaker is the sixth and final studio album by English rock group Free, that provided them with one of their most successful singles, "Wishing Well". It was recorded in late 1972 after bassist Andy Fraser had left the band and while guitarist Paul Kossoff was ailing from an addiction to Mandrax (Quaaludes), and features a different line up from previous albums. Tetsu Yamauchi was brought in to replace Fraser, while John "Rabbit" Bundrick became the band's keyboard player to compensate for the increasingly unreliable Kossoff. Both Yamauchi and Bundrick had played with Kossoff and drummer Simon Kirke on the album Kossoff, Kirke, Tetsu & Rabbit during that period in late 1971 when the band had broken up for the first time. Also, several other musicians were used on the album. The album was co-produced by Andy Johns as well as Free themselves.

<i>In Concert: Merchants of Cool</i> Bad Company album

In Concert: Merchants of Cool is a live album and DVD by British hard rock band Bad Company. It was recorded principally at The Paramount Theater, Denver, Colorado and The Grove of Anaheim, Anaheim, California, in January 2002. It features hits from both Bad Company and precursor band Free as well as two new studio tracks, "Joe Fabulous" and "Saving Grace".

<i>Kossoff Kirke Tetsu Rabbit</i> album by Paul Kossoff

Kossoff Kirke Tetsu Rabbit is a 1972 rock album made by guitarist Paul Kossoff, drummer Simon Kirke, bassist Tetsu Yamauchi and keyboard player John "Rabbit" Bundrick. Recorded after Free disbanded, drummer Kirke elected to remain with guitar player Paul Kossoff forming a quartet with Bundrick and Yamauchi in 1971. Kirke has noted that although initially Kossoff appeared in good spirits and was engaged in making the album he increasingly indulged in drugs often falling asleep between takes or while listening to playbacks.

<i>Free – Live at the BBC</i> live album by Free

Free – Live at the BBC is an album by the English rock band Free. It was recorded between 1968 and 1971 on BBC on various occasions both "in session" and "in concert". It was released in 2006 by Island Records. All songs are credited to Andy Fraser and Paul Rodgers except "Trouble on Double Time" and "Mr. Big" by Paul Rodgers, Paul Kossoff, Andy Fraser, and Simon Kirke, "Waiting on You" by B. B. King and Freddie Washington, and "The Hunter" by Booker T. Jones, C. Wells, Al Jackson, Jr., Donald Dunn, and Steve Cropper.

Onward to Olympas was an American metalcore band from Salisbury, North Carolina. The band started making music in 2005, and disbanded in 2013. Their membership was vocalists, Chris Davis and Kramer Lowe, guitarists and vocalist, Andy Simmons, Justin Gage, and Kyle Phillips, drummer and vocalist, Mark Hudson, guitarist, Andrew Higginbotham, bass guitarist, Justin Allman, and drummers, Matt Burnside, Nick Helvey. The band released one independently made album, The End of the Beginning, in 2007, and their lone extended play, Victory at All Costs, in 2008. Their first studio album, This World Is Not My Home, was released by Facedown Records, in 2010. The subsequent studio album, The War within Us, was released by Facedown Records, in 2011. They released, Indicator, with Facedown Records, in 2012, and this was their third and final studio album.

References

  1. "2006 BMI London Awards | News". BMI.com. 3 October 2006. Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-09.
  2. Allsworth, Steve (June 2011), "Free: All Right Now", Guitar Techniques, p. 14
  3. "Andy Fraser – Writing credits". www.discogs.com. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  4. "Andy Fraser Forms New Band". Sounds . Spotlight Publications. 28 August 1971. p. 2.
  5. https://www.billboard.com/music/andy-fraser
  6. 1 2 Epstein, Dmitry M. (May 2005). "Interview with Andy Fraser". DME. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  7. "Obama 08". Andyfraser.com. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
  8. "Cause of Death Determined for "All Right Now" Songwriter Andy Fraser". Jammerzine. 1 June 2015.
  9. "Free bassist Andy Fraser dies at 62". BBC News. 18 March 2015. Retrieved 19 March 2015.