When Free finally fell apart at the seams after staggering around in various forms, there was a lot of damage done to the members.
Despite the fairly quick birth of Bad Company which took care of Simon Kirke and Paul Rodgers, both Andy Fraser and Paul Kossoff were in the wilderness for a while. Fraser did come back with his own band but it took Koss just that little bit longer.
Surrounding Paul were two distinct opinions; one, that he was perhaps one of the best guitarists to have emerged from Britain in many years, and another that he was so wrecked that he would never give that ability to play a chance to be heard . . .
However, Kossoff came storming back to the delight of guitar lovers with a hard rocking band and a cleared-up head. And the new band comprising Terry Wilson on bass, Tony Braunagel on drums. Terry Wilson-Slesser on vocals and Mike Montgomery on keyboards looked set to revive Paul’s flagging fortunes.
How had his layoff affected his playing? “I do think I’ve got technically better and it’s got refined, but not any less aggressive or emotional,” he replied, “I actually got to the stage when I stopped playing – not in my head but physically. What speed I have got (which isn’t much) I’d lost and I’ve been playing ten hours a day to get that back.”
Although a prominent guitarist on stage, one of the many paradoxes surrounding Paul was his recorded sound with Free with the guitar parts restrained and kept way back in the mix.
“A lot of the time when I was in the studio with Free I was pretty dominated by Andy, and I ended up playing what he wanted me to play. I started coming out of that with Free At Last and now I’m doing what I wanted to do.”
The name Back Street Crawler came straight from Koss’s solo album of the same name.
After a handful of relatively well-received albums, Koss finally succumbed to years of drug abuse on 19 March 1976 when his heart and kidneys failed, and he died in his sleep aboard a plane en route to New York.
The band lived on for a while as simply Crawler, with Geoff Whitehorn on guitar and Rabbit Bundrick (ex-Free) as a full-time member.