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Rock ‘n’ roll recluse still heard but seldom seen

Joe Cocker’s new version of “Every Kinda People” is latest expression of Andy Fraser’s song-writing prowess

By Wattie Allread

Former Free bassist-songwriter Andy Fraser has almost become a rock ‘n’ roll Howard Hughes but even if Fraser is seldom seen these days he’s still widely heard.

Fraser not only penned Free’s signature tune, “All Right Now,” but also Robert Palmer’s 1978 hit, “Every Kinda People.” The former has been riding the airwaves almost non-stop since 1970 --  it’s supposedly the one of the most frequently played classic rock songs -- while the latter has made a slight return courtesy of Joe Cocker.

Cocker covers his friend Palmer’s hit on his latest album “Heart & Soul.” Cocker’s version alters the title to “Every Kind of People,” but more importantly, he places Fraser’s soulful and soul-searching song in a new class of recognized popular classics. It’s right in there on “Heart & Soul” alongside John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy,” Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I'm Amazed” and U2’s “One,” among others.

A tale of two tunes
Most serious Free fans know the story behind “All Right Now,” which Simon Kirke has described Fraser writing backstage to supply the band with an up-tempo concert closer. “It couldn't have taken more than ten minutes," Kirke has said. (The song is credited to the songwriting team of Fraser-Rodgers.)

Fraser’s tune not only displayed Free’s strengths to the fullest, it also broke new ground. Bass players still marvel at Fraser’s super-tight handiwork on this track. Fraser builds a solid foundation of pumping bass, adding ringing harmonic figures that prefigure fusion-jazz great Jaco Pastorius’ style by several years.

Even if Free fans can’t appreciate “Every Kinda People” half as much, the song deserves at least one more listen, which Cocker thoughtfully provides. It’s fitting since “Every Kinda People” -- we’ll stick with the original title – nicely bookends Fraser’s popular songwriting catalog.

The lyrics to “Every Kinda People” reflect Fraser’s growing maturity while the music shows how, in his solo years, Fraser increasingly felt the pull of the R&B groove. R&B had always influenced Fraser’s music and Palmer’s version of “Every Kinda People” – replete with a distinctive, nine-note hook – took it to a level of soul sophistication approaching Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.”

Although Fraser apparently never released his own version of the song, “Every Kinda People” has been covered by several other artists in the years between Palmer’s version and Cocker’s. Unfortunately, the intervening period has been increasingly perplexing for Fraser fans. His recorded output has sharply declined and Fraser has seldom performed in public. Kirke has said Fraser is “laying low.”

All right, even now
Fraser, who reportedly lives in Los Angeles, has not released an album since his third solo album, 1984’s “Fine Fine Line” on Island Records. His only solo release since then appears to be a single track on a 2003 Frankie Miller tribute album, a reggae version of “Standing At Your Window.” The Fraser-Miller composition dates back to their work together in the late ‘70s. (Miller’s 1982 album of the same name, which includes four other tunes they wrote together, was re-released in 2004.)

Fraser’s last known public performance, meanwhile, was with Paul Rodgers at Woodstock ’94. Fraser played bass in a band that also featured Slash of Guns N Roses and Velvet Revolver fame, Neil Schon of Journey and Santana, and Jason Bonham, son of the late Led Zeppelin drummer. Although the band reportedly played a 50-minute set, only their version of Albert King’s “The Hunter,” an old Free favorite, is included on the official concert video.

Over the years, Fraser has declined requests from for interviews. Lucy Piller, who maintains the web site for fellow fans of Free, Paul Rodgers, Bad Company and related bands, says she respects Fraser’s privacy but has had a number of requests for more information about him over the years. “There are certainly some die-hard Andy Fraser fans out there!” Piller says.


She adds, “We at don’t want to bother Andy but we do want him to know that we appreciate all of his music, not just the Free classics. We wanted to pay tribute to his contribution to popular music – not only the great stuff he wrote and performed with Free but also his later solo recordings and his work with artists like Sharks, Frankie Miller and Robert Palmer, among others.”


“We’ve created this special page to highlight some of Andy’s music outside of Free,” Pillar says. “We eagerly await the opportunity to update it with some brand new classics from the man who brought the world ‘All Right Now’!”



A musician's musician


Here's what some noteworthy musicians have said about Andy Fraser:


"Andy Fraser was and remains my all-time favorite bass player. Plus he's a great songwriter and all-around musician. I learned a great deal from him. "

--Chris Spedding, the guitarist who played with Fraser in Sharks, quoted on his web site,


"Fraser is the guy who made me want to play bass. He would leave huge, ridiculous gaps in the music before reggae was popular. I learned all of that from Andy Fraser."

--Matthew Seligman of The Soft Boys, also an in-demand session musician, in Bass Player magazine, February 2003

"I loved Ronnie Lane's tone in the Small Faces, Ron Wood's tone in the Jeff Beck Group, and of, course, Andy Fraser's playing in Free."

--Mitch Easter, formerly of Let's Active and producer-engineer of early REM albums


Songs of many years

As a songwriter, Andy Fraser has had considerable success, both in Free and after he left the band:


  • Music publishers BMI list 152 titles credited to Andy Fraser (under his legal name, Andrew Mc Ian Fraser) and various co-composers, including one Paul Bernard Rodgers, co-writer of a certain song known as “All Right Now.”


  • According to, ”All Right Now” has been covered by a variety of performers ranging from Rod Stewart to the USC Trojan Marching Band.


  • In addition to Paul Rodgers and Frankie Miller, Fraser has had a number of song-writing partners over the years. lists co-writers such as Graham Lyle, formerly of Gallager and Lyle, later a co-writer of Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” and Jim Vallance, who has co-written songs with Bryan Adams, including Adams’ hit, “Summer of ’69,” as well as with Aerosmith.


  • Mountain’s Leslie West recorded Fraser’s "Dr. Love" on his 1975 solo album "The Great Fatsby." The original version appears on Sharks ’73 debut  “First Water.” (West also covers Free’s "Little Bit of Love" on “The Great Fatsby.”)


  • Robert Palmer’s version of Fraser’s ”Every Kinda People” reached Number 16 on the US charts in 1978. The song has since been covered by several other artists, most recently Joe Cocker (as “Every Kind of People”) on his album “Heart & Soul.” (Earlier, when he was a member of Vinegar Joe, Robert Palmer covered Fraser’s song "Talkin' Bout My Baby" on the album “Six Star General.”)


  • Ted Nugent recorded Andy Fraser’s song "Knockin' at Your Door" on his 1984 album, "Penetrator." Fraser’s version is on his third solo album, “Fine Fine Line.” The singer on Nugent’s version was Brian Howe, who would later become Bad Company’s singer after Paul Rodgers left the band. The track is also featured on the two-disc Nugent collection, “Noble Savage” from 2001. Doobie Brother Patrick Simmons also recorded "Knockin' at Your Door" on his 1983 solo album, "Arcade."



A few Fraser factoids


Some tidbits about Andy Fraser’s solo recordings and collaborations:


  • Andy Fraser’s first two solo albums, “Andy Fraser Band” and “... In Your Eyes,” originally released by CBS Records in 1975, have been re-issued as a single CD, in 2004 in a remastered version from Gott Discs, and in 2000 by the See for Miles label. His third album, “Fine Fine Line,” a 1984 Island Records release, is not available on CD.


  • Frankie Miller opened his 1977 album “Full House” with Fraser’s “Be Good to Yourself,” which became Miller’s first-ever UK chart single. Fraser released his own version on “... In Your Eyes.”


  • Five of the 10 songs on Miller’s 1982 album, “Standing on the Edge,” were Fraser-Miller collaborations. ”Standing on the Edge” was recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, as was Fraser’s “... In Your Eyes.” The British label Eagle Rock released a remastered version of “Standing on the Edge,” and seven other Miller albums, in 2004.



An unusual musical career


One thing that makes Andy Fraser fascinating is the unique, sometimes quirky nature of his music:


  • As he had done with Paul Kossoff on Free’s “Mr. Big,” Fraser plays lead bass on Sharks’ “First Water” with Chris Spedding’s guitar often slipping into a backing role. Fraser also plays a good deal of piano on “First Water,” including some rollicking, almost honky tonk-style licks. (When Fraser left Sharks, he was replaced by a bass player and a keyboardist -- and Spedding took a more typical lead guitarist approach.)


  • Although Andy Fraser took only one lead vocal on a Free song -- ”Bodie,” from “Highway” -- and did not sing at all on the Sharks “First Water,” he takes the microphone rather aggressively on his solo debut, “Andy Fraser Band.” Unlike “Bodie,” Fraser’s vocals on “Andy Fraser Band” are soulful and assured – not unlike Paul Rodgers in sound and approach, some listeners have noted.


  • Of all his post-Free efforts, ”Andy Fraser Band” is the most like Free in musical style and feel -- rocking yet soulful and almost dreamy at times. However, “Andy Fraser Band” is an unusual rock album in that Fraser uses the bass as a lead instrument. Fraser plays chords and guitar-like parts, sometimes utilizing fuzz and other effects. Keyboardist Nick Judd, who also played in Sharks after Fraser left that band, fills out the sound with support from hard-driving drummer Kim Turner.


  • After the unique bass stylings of early 1975’s “Andy Fraser Band,” Fraser radically changed his sound by the end of the same year for his second solo album. “... In Your Eyes” was recorded at the famous Muscle Shoals Sound System studio in Alabama, where many classic Aretha Franklin tracks were cut in the ‘60s. Although no individual musicians are credited on “... In Your Eyes,” Fraser apparently plays the bass, although in a low-key manner. Overall, the instrumentation has the classic Muscle Shoals vibe, including horns and backing vocals.


  • In his most unusual album credit, Andy Fraser plays drums on the song "King's Lead Hat" on Brian Eno’s 1977 Island Records release, "Before and After Science..." (Fraser appeared on another Island Records release, Robert Palmer's 1980 album “Clues,” playing bass on "Sulky Girl" and "Not a Second Time.")


  • For his third solo album, “Fine Fine Line,” a 1984 Island release, Fraser apparently turned over the four-string duties to David (Davey) Faragher, later of Cracker and Elvis Costello’s band The Imposters. The album features the synth-pop/rock sound of the times – and it’s as different from Fraser’s 1975 albums as those two records were from one another!


  • Fraser picked up the bass again to play at Woodstock ’94 with Paul Rodgers. Rounding out the band were guitarists Slash and Neil Schon and drummer Jason Bonham.



A Fraser fan’s wish list:


Andy Fraser has developed a reputation, perhaps unjustly, of sitting on some potentially interesting recordings. Here’s a partial list of non-Free recordings that his fans might like to hear in legitimate (non-bootlegged) versions:


  • Any recordings by Fraser’s band Toby, which he formed in the interlude when Free split up before reforming to record “Free at Last.” Toby featured guitarist Adrian Fisher, later of Sparks -- not to be confused with Sharks, Fraser’s post-Free band.


  • Speaking of Sharks, Fraser’s band with ace guitarist Chris Spedding supposedly appeared on the British TV program, “Old Grey Whistle Test,” on February 6, 1973. Speddings’ web site also mentions that Sharks appeared April 1, 1973 at the Rainbow Theatre and, Spedding reports, one show was aired on BBC radio program “Golders Green.”


  • Any Fraser-Miller recordings. While Andy Fraser and Frankie Miller’s songwriting collaborations have been released on Miller albums, and Miller has covered Fraser’s “Be Good to Yourself.” Miller’s web site says, “The two wrote and recorded together but nothing permanent came of it.”


The “superstar” band that Paul Rodgers and Andy Fraser were part of at Woodstock ’94 – also including Slash, Neil Schon and Jason Bonham – apparently played a 50-minute set. However, only “The Hunter” appears on the official video -- and even that’s not readily available in the DVD era. How about whipping out “the full monty” of this set, fellows?

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    © 2005 Last Modified: 12 April, 2005