Watch Paul Kossoff Playing his Favorite ‘Burst (When He Gets It Working!)
A huge festival audience. The peak of your career. And a broken cable. It’s the kind of scenario guitar players have nightmares about.
“We got some uh… The guitar keeps cutting off, you’ve probably noticed. Just gonna put that right,” says Free vocalist Paul Rodgers as the vast crowd attending 1970’s Isle of Wight Festival politely gaze on. Buzz… Crackle… “Oh shit! Sorry about this...”
Managing to keep his cool, guitarist Paul Kossoff is suddenly back and after a quick tune up the band count in to “Be My Friend,” a track Free would go on to record the following month for their fourth studio album, Highway.
In this rough and ready film of Free’s performance at the legendary Isle of Wight Festival, Kossoff is seen playing his stripped-top 1959 Les Paul Standard (prior to it being refinished in 1975 by renowned UK luthier Dick Knight at the behest of a later owner.)
One of classic rock’s quintessential ‘Burst players, Kossoff owned several of these iconic axes, although the Les Paul seen here is believed to be his favorite.
Kossoff used the same electric guitar during Free’s Top of the Pops appearance earlier in June 1970 when they performed their biggest hit “All Right Now” in the BBC studio. It is thought Kossoff used this ‘Burst to track the top ten hit. Check out this clip (opens in new tab) to get a closer look at the legendary instrument in action.
Kossoff began gigging with Free in 1968 aged just 17. Their debut album, Tons of Sobs, appeared in Spring 1969, followed by the eponymously titled long-player that Fall. But it was to be the 1970 studio album Fire and Water along with its closing track “All Right Now” that would really help the band break through.
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Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar World (opens in new tab), Guitar Player (opens in new tab) and MusicRadar (opens in new tab) in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.