14 September 1950
19 March 1976
Free, Black Cat Bones, Back Street Crawler, Kossoff/Kirke/Tetsu/Rabbit
Unquestionably, a guitarist possessing pure talent and ‘feel’, Paul Kossoff came into his own with Free. He established a reputation as a man with so much ability that his legacy is still being discovered to this day by aspiring young guitarists. He was ranked 51 in Rolling Stone magazines ‘100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time’.
The tragedy is that, ultimately, his was a genius unfulfilled. He died at an early age – just 25 years old – leaving many wondering what he might have gone on to achieve had he lived, But his work with Free and then Back Street Crawler is strong enough to mark Kossoff out as one of the most fascinating and emotionally charged musicians of the 1970s.
Son of actor David Kossoff, he began playing professionally at the astonishingly tender age of 15 with Black Cat Bones, a band who relished the blues and toured with Fleetwood Mac. Apparently, the young Kossoff would spend hours jamming with Peter Green – oh, to have copies of those sessions!
In 1968, Kossoff and Black Cat Bones bandmate Simon Kirke teamed up with Paul Rodgers and Andy Fraser to start Free. It was as much the tremendous guitar work from Kossoff as anything else that gave Free their enormous propulsion into the elite of bands at the time. Some of his playing was simply in a class of its own.
When the band finally broke up after the 1973 album ‘Heartbreaker. Kossoff briefly toured with John Martyn, before starting a band called Back Street Crawler, so named after his 1973 solo album of the same title. Sadly, his infamous drug addiction eventually took its toll, and he died on a flight from Los Angeles to New York on March 19, 1976. His epitaph at Golders Green Crematorium reads simply ‘All Right Now’.