Andy Fraser, an English bassist and songwriter best known for his tenure in the hard rock band Free, died on Monday. He was 62.
Weaned on early American blues like many of his other contemporary peers of the period, the London-born Fraser found a mentor in Alexis Korner, who was one of the more seminal figures of that late 1960s British blues boom by way of electricity. It was Korner who suggested Fraser, 15 at the time, to blues king John Mayall and his Bluesbreakers when the band needed a bassist. Korner then became a sort of liaison to getting Fraser, after his stint with Mayall, associated with the band he is most remembered for and went on to co-found.
Free was like somewhere in the middle of Cream and Led Zeppelin (as were most bands around that time), but carried a distinctive sound by way of Fraser’s solid and groovy rock and roll bottom end stylings, the sonic KO of Paul Kossoff’s guitar and especially the lead vocal strut amped-up power of Paul Rodgers. With a top ten USA hit in the chunky, heavy rock of “All Right Now” in 1970 (co-written by Fraser with Rodgers, from the classic album Fire And Water), which eventually garnered over 3 million radio plays by the 21st century, reaching number one in over 20 territories and coupled with the band’s consistent touring, Free was a popular music unit during the early 1970s. The band lasted till around 1973 when during that time Paul Rodgers and Free drummer Simon Kirke formed Bad Company and Free guitarist Paul Kossoff went on to release various projects until his death in March of 1976 at the age of 25.
Fraser left Free in 1972 to join and develop various projects as the 1970s went on. He also wrote songs for others, including Robert Palmer, Joe Cocker, and Rod Stewart.
There has been no official confirmation of cause of death yet, but Fraser had been suffering from complications and battling cancer (Kaposi’s Sarcoma) and AIDS the last few years. In previous years, Fraser battle thoughts of suicide after years of self-denial about his sexuality. He eventually came out as gay, and on his website, he wrote about his fear about the situation, where the end result was that he decided he would not keep it a secret anymore: “… in truth it has taken me some 15 years to find the nerve to say ‘fuck you everybody… I’m not hiding anymore!'”
Here’s was the official statement regarding his death:
“Andrew McLan Fraser passed away on Monday at his home in California. 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.”