By PERRY GRAYSON
Free bassist and songwriter Andy Fraser passed away on Monday, the 16th of March, at the age of 62. Andy is best known for his work in Free, with songwriting partner and vocalist Paul Rodgers. Fraser virtually wrote the book on heavy/bluesy rock bass playing while still in his teens. He co-founded Free while only 15 years old, having played for a short stint in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Aside from Free, Andy played in the bands Toby and Sharks.
Joined by Paul Rodgers, Paul Kossoff and Simon Kirke, Andy helped form Free. The Free tune “All Right Now” was an enormous hit and solidified Andy as a force to be reckoned with on the 4-string. Free allowed Andy to branch out and pen his own songs or collaborations with Paul Rodgers. It was in Free that Fraser laid the groundwork for all heavy rock bass guitar solos with his massive and bendy grooves on “Mr. Big”. Andy played on all the Free albums except their final outing, Heartbreaker.
In the ‘80s Andy went solo and had a hit with the tune “Fine Fine Line”. Later in that decade he was diagnosed with AIDS and a rare form of cancer. In the mid 2000s Andy was interviewed by magazines such as Vintage Guitar in which he came out as openly gay, an activist much like metal’s immortal frontman Rob Halford of Judas Priest fame.
Though Andy was out of the spotlight for many years, he will always be remembered as the diminutive bass god of Free.