“All Right Now” co-writer, Free bassist was also a strong social activist
By David Sands
March 18, 2015
Andy Fraser, bassist for the British blues rock band Free, passed away Monday in California at the age of 62. Although he had been diagnosed with both AIDS and cancer at the time of his passing, Ultimate Classic Rock reports that no official cause has been given for his death.
Famous for the song “All Right Now,” Free was a trailblazer for hard rock music and a popular English blues rock group at the start of the 1970s.
“Andrew McLan Fraser passed away on Monday at his home in California,” reads an official statement, cited by Team Rock. “He leaves behind his daughters Hannah and Jasmine Fraser, and their mother Ri, his sister Gail, brothers Gavin and Alex, and many friends and associates in the industry. A survivor of both cancer and AIDS, Andy was a strong social activist and defender of individual human rights.”
Trained as a classical pianist, Fraser played with John Mayall’s band the Bluesbreakers as a teenager before launching Free in 1968 with guitarist Paul Kossoff, drummer Simon Kirke and future Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers. At that time, he was just 15 years old.
In addition to laying down bass lines, he also played keys and contributed to song composition.
“It may have been tougher for them, because they knew I was ‘the’ bass-player, but from the start my precociousness had me saying ‘OK I’m the leader’ and they had to humor me I guess, because one aspect came with the other,” Fraser said in a biographical statement on his website.
The bassist and composer left Free in 1972 to form a band called the Sharks. After one record with them, he quit to start the Andy Fraser Band, recording two albums. In the late 1970s, he moved to California where he became a songwriter, penning tunes for the likes of Robert Palmer, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan and Rod Stewart. Appearing as a singer, rather than a bass player, he released the solo album, Fine, Fine Line in the early 1980s.
Due to health issues, his output and public appearances diminished in his later years. In 1994, he had a brief reunion with former Free bandmate Rodgers at Woodstock ‘94.
His album Naked… and Finally Free was released in 2005. Featuring a mix of blues, rock, African world music and soul, it featured lyrics that dealt with coming to terms with his homosexuality.
In addition to his music career, Fraser also worked with Rock Against Trafficking, an organization dedicated to ending child slavery worldwide.
20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: The Best of Free is available here