Andy Fraser, Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke reflect on one of rock’s all-time rifftastic moments...
ANDY FRASER (Bassist/co-songwriter)
“The conception of the song was when we were playing a small college date on a rainy Tuesday in some out-of-the-way place near Durham. There were only about 20 kids there, and they were all whacked out of their heads on Mandrax. We played, and apart from not even being noticed by the audience, we sucked. We were bad and when we came off stage, in the dressing room there was this awful silence. So I started singing, ‘All right now, baby, all right now’ and everyone started tapping along and singing, and it turned into bit of a jam, just getting rid of that horrible vibe, and we thought: ‘OK tomorrow’s another day.’ That’s where the chorus came from, a really bad situation. The guitar riff came another day, and it’s me trying to impersonate Pete Townshend, who was, to me, the all-time greatest chord king. Of course, I couldn’t play it as good as Pete! I think Paul [Rodgers] got the lyrics and the verse together pretty quick, waiting for the band to pick him up to go off for a gig. We started playing it in sound checks just to do something a bit different.
“We didn’t think we’d written a classic song at all. We just regarded it as a kind of throwaway three-chord trick. I thought we had a lot more mature songs, like ‘Heavy Load’, which was also on Fire And Water. It was Chris Blackwell, our manager, who wanted to put it out as a single. We didn’t take him seriously and tried to suggest another one, but he was thick-headed, and proved himself right.
“The song’s now used everywhere! I think there’s a football club over here, one of the big San Francisco football teams, that uses it as their theme song. It’s always on adverts and on the radio. It’s amazing but it’s strange. I still can’t quite take it seriously. I still see it as a three-chord trick with me pretending to a play guitar like Townshend, with some teenage lyrics… like it’s not difficult to pull those things together.
“When Free broke up, that was the hardest thing ever. Free to me, was a family. I mean, I loved my blood family but with the band we all felt, ‘OK I’ve found home.’ We were brothers, watching each other’s back, anticipating each other’s thoughts, finishing each other’s sentences; it was that kind of closeness. We tried to hold it together, but it wasn’t there. It’s such a sad story when you think about what it did to Paul Kossoff.”