Sounds Magazine Interview

by Rob Telford - 1973

No wonder ‘Free’s American keyboard player is called Rabbit. He looks like a cheery Bugs Bunny, minus the carrot. One of Island’s PR men, after hearing Rabbit’s solo album, “Broken Arrows”, even took it as far as extolling Rabbit as the best Musician ever to have worked for the Label - which is saying a mouthful. Rabbit first emerged almost 2 years ago now, when he arrived in London from Stockholm, where he ’d spent a year writing, playing, and arranging for Johnny Nash, to record an album with Paul Kossoff, Simon Kirke, and Japanese bass player Tetsu. Today, Rabbit is having another day off in the midst of yet another of ‘Free’s ominous lulls. He’s not exactly the prettiest rock star you ever saw, but then again, that’s a long way from where the guy’s head is at. On his early years he says, “The first sessions I ever did in Houston were Country and Western gigs with my dad, who is a bass player. I did that for a while, but my head was turning more in the direction of Rock and Roll I guess. Texas is a hard place to break out of and at that time I really was wanting to move on, but I was definitely having trouble getting the right contacts to make the move. I joined a band from Fort Worth that was heading out to California. I asked my Mother if I could go and she understood how I felt and told me to go ahead, so I joined. What followed was a brief but all-embracing series of brushes with every imaginable form of Rock and Roll, until I was given my really important break, “Johnny Nash”. It was when I was hired by Johnny that I was taken on to something a bit more satisfying. It also meant that I could at long last break away from the Texas music scene and on to something more World Wide. I thought, “Right, here’s my chance to get out of Texas and out of America to see the other side of the world. It was a chance I couldn’t miss. That’s when I went to Stockholm, Sweden; with Johnny Nash.” During his work with Nash, the most undoubtedly satisfying highpoint of their association was lying in the grooves of Nash ’s masterful ‘I Can See Clearly’ album. The move from Nash to Free was both a natural progression form him, musically, plus it was also an opportunity to get back on the road. “Studio work’s fine, but it can do strange things to a musician’s head, especially if he does nothing else. As for my musical contributions to Free, I know that the Band is a whole lot spacier than the old group was, and that’s something that kind of show up on ‘Heartbreaker’. I think I have the biggest problem writing lyrics. When I wrote ‘Common Mortal Man’ for Free, I had to make the words fit Paul Rodgers voice. I was aware of how he structured all of his progressions and vocal phrasing when I wrote the words. It was Country music that taught me the importance of ‘word’s, what they mean, where they go, etc., etc.” On being away from home he says, “In my present state of mind, I don’t miss America at all, neither artistically or as a ‘base’ from which to operate from. I also don’t care to go back there too often and that’s attributable to my fear of ‘Flying’. A band has to have confidence, otherwise there’s just nothing there, and the guys have got to be able to depend on each other. That ’s why I’m not going anywhere. I think Paul Rodgers is the most confident man I have ever met, and I want to stay around here for awhile and see if some of that confidence might rub off on me.”

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