Free At Last

Paul Fitzpatrick: December 2022

It’s Paul Rodgers birthday, the Geordie legend is 73 today.

Which reminds me of the time that I was in a band – for five minutes – if it’s possible to call three people who never played a gig or had a name for said band – a band.
And my inspiration for joining the band that never was, was Mr Rodgers.

It was the spring of 1973, so I would have been in third year, a few months shy of my 15th birthday.

The band as it was, was an unconventional trio consisting of two guitarists (Dick & Bob) and a vocalist (me).

Bob Hamilton had approached me to join him and his friend Dick in this super-group, and invited me to come to his house for a chat and a rehearsal.
I knew Bob dabbled with the guitar from our playground conversations. Usually about who had been on the Old Grey Whistle Test the evening before.
We’d discuss the merits of yodelling in rock and compliment guitar heroes like Jan Akkerman and Paul Kossoff.

I assumed his cohort Dick who I didn’t know that well, would play bass…. or drums….. or keyboards, but no, Dick was set on being the next Steve Hackett or Steve Howe.

Bob, who unfortunately is no longer with us, was a lovely lad, affable and jolly, he was one of those rare beasts who was welcome in any friendship group.

Dick, was a bit more aloof, and cocksure and I assumed that he and Bob must have bonded over a common interest in musical tastes (how wrong I was)

That first get together and rehearsal turned out to be a bit of a shambles and truth be told, it didn’t really get much better.

Before a note was played we had a chat about what songs we should learn to cover.
I suggested a couple of Free songs, which I thought were realistic given the obvious limitations (musically and instrumentally), plus, my vocal inspiration at the time was Paul Rodgers.

I’d learned to sing Wishing Well, The Stealer and Fire & Water verbatim, every little Rodgers nuance included, and if Stars in Their Eyes had been around in 73, I’d have been given it “Tonight Matthew I’m…..”

For his part, Bob suggested a couple of Faces songs, on the basis that they were guitar driven and would sit alongside the Free songs.

Dick, on the other hand, had slightly loftier ambitions for the power-trio, no commercial shit for him, he wanted us to learn and play “Suppers Ready” a 23 minute, Genesis, keyboard-driven, prog anthem.

The debate on the bands musical direction proved to be a moot point however when we realised that the only available sheet music at Bob’s was The Beatles and Status Quo.

Also, both lads were at the start of their musical journeys and knew about 3 chords between them, plus ahem, we were missing the Hammond organ, the mellotron, the tubular bells and of course the rhythm section necessary to make a dent in this Genesis odyssey.

Tensions in the trio came to a head during a particular ropey rendition of a two-chord Quo classic which to be fair none of us had our hearts in anyway.

Dick had obviously had enough of “Down, Down, Deeper and Down” and “Here Comes The Sun” and announced that he didn’t want to play this shit anymore before storming out.

Utterly relieved, Bob and I got back to what we did best, listening to music and talking about it, and agreed that if anyone asked we’d announce that …. “the band split due to creative tensions”

See there I go again, calling it a band!

So, Happy Birthday Paul Rodgers, there were some great front men in the 70s – Jagger, Plant, Gillan, Stewart but I always thought you were the man with the golden voice…

6 thoughts on “Free At Last”

  1. Rodgers and Steve Marriott were my two favorite lead singers of that period. Our band started in the 80s and we started out wanted to play songs that we didn’t have the talent to do. I wanted to do A Day In The Life and someone else wanted to do a Queen song…no way. We ended up doing Jumping Jack Flash and ACDC which was more in our range.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Sounds like you guys almost had it figured out! 🙂

    I think Paul Rodgers is a great vocalist, and I dig many of the tunes he sang for Free and Bad Company.

    So happy birthday to Paul, who compared to “my Paul”, Sir Paul, is I guess what you could call an adolescent! 🙂

    Long live rock!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Closest I got to see Paul Rodgers was in the early ’90s and he was playing with Kenney Jones in a ‘supergroup’ called The Law. Terrific band – I had their one and only album (I think) on cassette.
    I’m sure I’m right in thinking the show I was going to in Glasgow was cancelled for some reason or other.


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