Free Convention brought forward for very special anniversary

Paul Kossoff of Free. Pic: Lucy Piller.
Paul Kossoff of Free. Pic: Lucy Piller.

A music-lovers' annual gathering has been brought forward for a very special anniversary.

The Free Convention is a celebration of the music, legacy and memory of one of the greatest blues/rock bands of all time, Free.

Part of the poster for this year's Free Convention.

Part of the poster for this year's Free Convention.

The fans' gathering is usually held in November - and for the last few years it's been at The Park Hotel in Tynemouth.

This year it's at the same venue, however, it's been brought forward to Saturday, 19 March - the 40th anniversary of the death of Free guitarist Paul Kossoff.

He died of a heart attack at the age of just 25, and his talent has passed into legend - he was listed as one of the top 100 guitarists of all time by Rolling Stone magazine.

Fans have made sure his legacy and the music he made with Free and Back Street Crawler live on.

Brian May of Queen was heavily influenced by Kossoff, and was quoted as saying: "In the early days of Queen, we loved the music of Free, and frequently played their songs in soundchecks, and at home for fun,"

Bill Flynn, organiser and promoter of the Free Convention, is especially excited by the line-up this year, which features Terry Slesser, the original singer in Back Street Crawler - the band Kossoff joined after Free split up.

He said: "Paul Kossoff was such a key member of Free. He was only 19 years of age when he came up with the iconic guitar riff for one of rock's most iconic tracks, All Right Now.

"Kossoff's passing was felt by so many, I did not want this year to go by without remembering him in some way.

"There is always a great reaction to Free's music when we hold the convention in the North East, so to have Terry Slesser, the original singer in Back Street Crawler, is a great thrill.

"Terry will be accompanied by John Buckton and Hideyuki Hide Kinoshita, who has travelled from Japan to play at this event.

"These two men are, in my opinion, the greatest living exponents of the Paul Kossoff guitar sound, and to have them together for such an iconic anniversary is a dream come true .

"I am always pleased by the encouragement and support given by former Free band members to the annual event.

"We have had Andy Fraser performing in 2013 (Andy died in 2015), also Simon Kirke hitting the skins at the 2014 convention and, although Paul Rodgers has not made an appearance yet, he is very supportive every year in providing prizes for the charity fundraising auction."

All profits from the Free Convention are in aid of the Northern Brainwave Appeal.

Tickets, priced £17 in advance, are available directly from convention organiser Bill Flynn on 01282 868352 or 07948 017380 or email freeconvention@aol.com.

They will also be available on the door, priced £20.