Deborah Bonham joins Free 50th anniversary celebration

Half a century ago this year Paul Kossoff and Paul Rodgers met.


The result was one of the nation’s greatest bands, Free.

Paul Rodgers marks that meeting with his late, great mate (1950-1976) with his FREE Spirit Tour 2017, taking in Portsmouth Guildhall on Thursday, May 25.

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Providing the band on the tour will be The Deborah Bonham Band, led by guitarist Pete Bullick. Long-term friends of Paul’s, Deborah and Pete live just outside Chichester.

Pete will be on guitar, Ian Rowley on bass, Rich Newman on drums and Gerard Louis “G” on keyboards. Special guest will be Deborah, featured with a keyboardist.

For Deborah, it’s a great chance for renew a friendship which goes back years. Deborah and the band provided Paul’s band when he played a couple of gigs at the now-defunct Venue in Chichester a few years ago.

“He is one of my all-time favourites.

“He has got just the most incredibly-soulful voice. It’s the tone of his voice, his phasing, his passion. I have admired him all my life.”

To mark the start of the tour, Deborah is re-releasing a recent album in new form as The Spirit Album: The Complete Sessions Remastered.

“When it was released a year or so ago, I didn’t put all the tracks on there. I think there are now 16 or 17 tracks.

“Spirit came out the year before last, I think, and we decided to put it all together because we were going on tour with Paul Rodgers.

“We signed to a label in America, and in hindsight I wish we hadn’t.

“They chose the tracks, and in my gut I knew it was probably wrong, but I went along with it. Now we are with Cadiz Music, a very old record label and distributor that has been going for years. We were talking about what to do.

“I have got a new album in the wings. The songs are all written, but it is finding the time to record them.

“The tour came up with Paul and he wanted to call it the FREE Spirit Tour.

“We had rescued a pony that had been in a terrible, terrible state and was pregnant, and we named the baby Free Spirit.

“We thought this tour should be called that, and I thought what better than to release the Spirit album as well.”

The tour will focus on Paul’s work with Free.

Paul explains: “It was 50 years ago in 1967 when Paul Kossoff and I met and later formed Free. We first jammed together at the Fickle Pickle Blues Club in Finsbury Park. We wanted exactly that, to be free to play the music that we loved, blues and beyond. We knew we had something special between us when people told us that when we played time stood still. He brought in the rhythm section, Simon Kirke from his band The Black Cat Bones and found the advertisement at the Nags Head Battersea for a ‘bass player ex-John Mayall looking for a gig’ – Andy Fraser.

“Not only was Koss the soul of the band, playing every note deeply, from his very soul he also had great organisational skills. Everybody loved him and rightly so.

“The first song that Koss and I wrote together was Moonshine. I remember him playing the music and he asked if I could write the melody and lyrics. In fact, it was that song we were playing when Alexis Korner walked in to our rehearsal and gave us the suggestion for a band name Free At Last.

“We went with just Free and I am still reeling from the memories.”

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