You gotta love when the hype lives up to the billing! Heavy Load-Free, the DEFINITIVE biography of the rock band Free by David Clayton & Todd K. Smith (with a foreward by Chris Blackwell and introduction by Al Kooper) has been applauded as one of the best rock bios of all time, and it is just that. Wonderfully presented in a large hardcover format, at just under 300 pages and filled with plenty of rare black & white photographs of the band (many of them live shots), Heavy Load-Free is a great read for anyone interested in this highly influencial British hard rock/blues band.
Most already know a bit about the legend of Free-Paul Rodgers, Paul Kossoff, Simon Kirke, and Andy Fraser, put together the band in the late 1960's and after two modest selling albums hit it big with Fire and Water and the single "All Right Now", and became one of the biggest bands in the world. However, internal dissention between the two main songwriters, Rodgers and Fraser, plus the increasing drug problems of guitar prodigy Kossoff, ultimately led to the permanent break up of the band in the mid-1970's. A career too short for sure, but their legacy is still felt today. Clayton and Smith, in an obvious 'labor of love', document the Free story from humble beginnings to end and beyond, looking at each member individually and the band as a whole. All the Free albums are looked at, the tours dissected (with labelmates Traffic, Spooky Tooth, Mott the Hoople, and others),and the personal lives documented, especially of Kossoff's, whose sad, tragic tale of his descent into massive drug addiction to Mandrax and heroin is still shocking to read about to this day.
This is one biography you'll not want to put down, and the huge amount of photographs make it an even more pleasant read. Extremely well written and presented, Heavy Load-Free is a must have for your collection if you are a fan of the band or classic rock in general. It's a pretty pricey UK import, but worth seeking out at all costs.