Paul Kossoff committed slow suicide
Free guitarist Paul Kossoff committed a slow suicide as a result of not being able to deal with his acclaim, says bandmate Andy Fraser.
The bassist recalls the harrowing moment he and a Free roadie tried to kidnap Kossoff in an attempt to get him off drugs after the band had split up. Realising he wasn’t going to accept their help, the pair were left with no option but to let him continue with his lifestyle choice – and that was the point at which Fraser bade his former colleague goodbye.
Kossoff continued his downward spiral after Free’s final split in 1973, and died in 1976 aged 25 while preparing for a tour with his band Back Street Crawler.
Fraser’s story is a Classic Rock exclusive excerpt from his book All Right Now: Life, Death and Life Again, in which he recounts the ups and downs of working with Kossoff, Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke in Free, his struggle with accepting he was gay, and his fight against AIDS which kept him out of the limelight until he reinvented himself in recent years.
Excerpt from All Right Now: Life, Death and Life Again by Andy Fraser and Mark Hughes
I think Koss felt especially vulnerable after we split. In the band he’d been covered, protected, from his insecurities as a player. Although he did what he did fantastically well, with such emotion and conviction, he was actually quite a basic player.
Yet because of how well he did what he did in the band, and how fantastic he was live, he’d built up this big reputation and people were talking of him in the same breath as the guitar greats – Hendrix, Peter Green, Eric Clapton. These guys were Koss’ heroes and he didn’t, in his heart of hearts, believe he was worthy of comparison to them.
So when you took the band away I think there was a real feeling of vulnerability and I think the terrible consequence of that was his drug intake. Koss was looking for a way out, I think. It had all fallen apart. He didn’t feel confident that the fame and adulation being poured on him was justified and with the band falling apart he had no-one to lean on.
I think he somewhere in his mind followed in the footsteps of his heroes like Hendrix and the other drug people. If people saw him on stage and he was bad then the excuse was it was because he was drugged – as opposed to he was bad. It’s a weird psychological thing. I think he wanted out and it was like a slow suicide.