There can be little doubt that the electric guitar was the foundation on which were laid the floorboards of rock ‘ n’ roll. The sixties were both the high point and the melting pot for rock’s guitar geniuses. The names read like an honor roll: JEFF BECK. JIMMY PAGE, ERIC CLAPTON, ALVIN LEE, ROBERT FRIPP. JIMI HENDRIX, ROBIN TROWER… the list goes on and on. Some have made it successfully to the seventies playing in the same vein, some have radically altered their style, some have withdrawn from the scene… and some are no longer with us. Our purpose here is to pay tribute to PAUL KOSSOFF; he was never fully recognized in the late sixties, and had to shake a series of almost crippling bad breaks just to be able to make music again. He was responsible for ‘All Right Now’ and ‘The Stealer’ as well as creating a distintive style of playing.
Self-admitted drug problems, the lack of a ‘killer instinct’ and self-confidence, and several assorted health ailments with a nearly fatal blood clot-heart attack late last summer being a forerunner of things to come) had, to say the least, hindered Paul Kossoff. It’s hard to believe that FREE hit the big time seven years ago. and that when Paul died, he was still only 2A. Last year after wheting the public’s taste with his fine ‘Back Street Crawler’ solo 1p, the word went out that Paul Kossoff had a new band and was ready to go on the road again. The heart attack fouled up those plans with the result that touring was initially delayed. During his recovery period, Paul spoke with RATW about his career, He was candid and firm in his resolve to play again. Ironically, his conversation with us was one of the last interviews he did, and his thoughts at that time reflect his determination to make music no matter what it cost him…
RATW: Paul, you wanted to do a series of albums with different size bands. Now that you have this band (Back Street Crawler), do you still want to follow that format?
Paul: Well, when I’ve done quite a bit more with this band and we have a break, I think I’m going to want to try something different… recording-wise. I’ve put all my energies into this band, so I haven’t really formed an idea of what I might do…
RATW: Your guitar sound changed significantly between the first Free album and the second one. Looking back, can you remember what it was that made you change?
Paul: The first album was sort of… we just went in and played everything we did, sort of live and straight off, almost. The second album was much more of a studio album. We were beginning to form some sort of way of doing things, things we carried through to the following albums.
RATW: Do you prefer playing live to doing studio work? Paul: I like both, but I really love playing live.
RATW: Do you think that self-confidence is as important to a performer as talent?
Paul: Oh yeah, it’s at least as important; I think the two things go hand-in-hand. You lose one, you lose the other.
RATW: Terry (Terry Wilson-Slesser, lead singer), how did you get involved with Back Street Crawler?
Terry: I was in a band called Beckett for five years, and they sort of just ground to a halt. We tried everything, we toured with nearly every band in England. We tried every approach and we weren’t getting anywhere. Our guitarist quit, and we were due to do a second album with CBS, and I asked Paul if he would play lead guitar on a session basis, and in the back of my mind, I would’ve liked for him to join the band, but because of some problems with the record corn pa nies, it didn’t happen. They wanted to split Beckett up altogether, and throw me into Mott The Hoople. ‘cuz Ian Hunter had just left at that time, which I turned down. Paul was with us for two weeks in Beckett rehearsing, and he had to go back to London because it wasn’t gonna happen. I turned down the Mod job, and CBS sort of put Beckett on a shelf, so I had to do something, and Paul phoned me up and asked me if I would be interested in forming a new band, and I said yeah, definitely.