Andy Fraser

A classically trained pianist who switched to bass just in time to get his first professional gig at the age of 15, Andy Fraser was best known as a main songwriter and bassist for the legendary and groundbreaking British blues-rock band Free. When that band exploded due to drug addiction and internal strife, Fraser worked with other musicians, eventually becoming well respected as a hitmaking songwriter based in Los Angeles. Born in 1952 in London, Fraser took to playing piano at the age of five. Classically trained, he was able to make the transition to guitar without much fuss. Taking up the bass -- at that time still not considered to be the ideal step to rock stardom -- turned out to be the right decision for Fraser. Well, that and making friends with Sappho Korner, daughter of British blues legend Alexis Korner, who suggested to a bass player-less John Mayall to hire the 15-year-old Fraser. Playing in the Bluesbreakers (at the time featuring an 18-year-old Mick Taylor, who would eventually join the Rolling Stones) only lasted until Fraser was 16, and after he was replaced, Korner put him in touch with guitarist Paul Kossoff, who, along with drummer Simon Kirke and vocalist Paul Rodgers, had been on an unsuccessful search for a competent bass player to round out their new band. The resulting band, Free, eventually signed with Island Records chief Chris Blackwell -- thanks to more help from Alexis Korner -- and became one of the cornerstones in the second wave of heavy British blues-rock, alongside bands such as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Free's peak came with the single "All Right Now," a critical and commercial smash that was co-written and produced by Fraser.