Kossoff was born in London, England, on September 14, 1950, and early on studied classical guitar (before giving up on the instrument by his teenaged years). But upon discovering the British blues-rock movement of the '60s, Kossoff's interest in guitar perked up once again, especially after catching a John Mayall's Bluesbreakers live show with Eric Clapton. Kossoff soon purchased an electric guitar (a vintage Gibson Les Paul, which eventually become his trademark guitar) and began playing in local bands.
Through one such band, Black Cat Bones, Kossoff became good friends with their drummer, Simon Kirke, who would serve a prominent part in Kossoff's musical future. Eventually feeling that the band had reached its zenith, the band broke up after the Black Cat Bones backed bluesman Champion Jack Dupree on a song called "When You Feel the Feeling."
Be My Friend
Kossoff and Kirke set out to form another group, hooking up with vocalist Paul Rodgers and bassist Andy Fraser, the quartet decided to go by the name Free (which was supposedly christened by British blues icon Alexis Korner). Just as the new band signed a deal with Island/A&M Records, Kossoff had fully blossomed into an outstanding guitarist, renowned for his fluid, slow, and melodic leads and bluesy riffs.
Free issued a pair of albums in the late '60s that went largely unnoticed -- 1968's Tons of Sobs and 1969's self-titled release -- as Kossoff grew slightly disillusioned by the group's lack of commercial progress and tried out for guitar openings in such groups as the Rolling Stones and Jethro Tull.
But big-time success would prove to be just around the corner for Free as their 1970 release Fire and Water spawned the massive hit single (and eventual classic rock standard) "All Right Now" and helped secure the group a spot at the esteemed 1970 Isle of Wight Festival (which also included performances by the Who and Sly & the Family Stone, as well as one of the final performances ever by both Jimi Hendrix and the Doors).
All Right Now
Documentary in 6 Parts about the band