Andy Fraser (full name Andrew McLan Fraser) was the bass guitarist, famous for being one of the original members of English rock band Free, which came to be in 1968.
Andy Fraser was all of fifteen years old when he was handed a gig playing bass in John Mayall’s seminal Bluesbreakers band. The gig came through Fraser’s mentor, British blues godfather Alexis Korner, whom he had befriended through Korner’s daughter. Although Fraser’s tenure with the Bluesbreakers was to be short lived, it did pair him with future Rolling Stone guitarist Mick Taylor, and turn enough heads that he caught the attention of vocalist Paul Rodgers, drummer Simon Kirke and guitarist Paul Kossoff when they were looking for a bassist to fill out their ranks. The four young men conspired to jam and, in May of 1968, Free was born.
Within six months of forming, Free had signed to Island Records and released its debut album, ‘Tons of Sobs’. Success was slow and steady until the release of the ‘Fire and Water’ album in 1970, when the group’s hit single “All Right Now” ascended the British and American charts to #2 and #4, respectively. The band continued to gain popularity, driven by Paul Rodgers’ blues-drenched vocals, Kossoff’s sorrowful guitar and Simon Kirke’s solid drumming. As for Fraser, the lyrical nature of his bass playing, inspired by the likes of Paul McCartney and Jack Bruce, elevated the role of bass guitar from the plodding bottom end to a source of dynamics and melody within the songs. Creative and personal tensions within the band eventually led to Fraser’s departure in July of 1972. By the following year, Free had released one final album without him – and with limited input from increasingly ineffectual guitarist Kossoff – before unraveling and limping to a halt. Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke, taking a cue from “All Right Now”, formed the bluesy hard rock band Bad Company, which enjoyed success into the early 1980’s. Paul Kossoff resurfaced in 1974 with Back Street Crawler, and the band released two albums that promised a return to form before his untimely death in March of 1976. For his part, Andy Fraser released two albums under his own name and that of the Andy Fraser Band, before joining a group called The Sharks. It was during this time that Andy suffered the loss of his mother, the first of a series of upheavals that would wreak havoc in his personal and professional life. Andy met his wife, started a family and moved to the United States. It was there that he became somewhat disillusioned, had his first gay experience and poured himself into writing. Robert Palmer turned Fraser’s song “Every Kinda People” into a hit, and Andy released the album ‘A Fine, Fine Line’ in 1984 before seemingly disappearing off the map. For twenty years, Andy Fraser lived in self-imposed retirement, his songs being covered by various artists like Rod Stewart, Joe Cocker and Bob Seger, while he contended with issues of his health and sexuality.
In early 2005, false rumors of Fraser’s death surfaced and spread quickly across the internet, alarming friends, family and fans alike. A rebuttal came from Andy Fraser himself, via his brand new web site. Along with that came news of a new album, ‘Naked…and finally free’, and a desire to return to the music scene with some of the most personal and invigorating music of his career. Andy Fraser is a gay man, living with AIDS – a key point that factors heavily into the heart and soul of the new album. He is also more committed than ever to expressing his newfound freedom – both artistic and personal – through his music. ‘Naked…and finally free’ is at once a declaration of survival and a reminder that he still has a lot left to offer.