Freeway

John Buckton - Guitar

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John first started messing around with guitars when he was nine years old. He started taking it more seriously around the age of eleven, swapping chords and riffs with school friends and learning songs off records (slowing 45's down to 33 was the only way to learn a guitar solo in those days - unlike today - now there is a wealth of guitar music and tablature available!).

John played in various bands during his teens, starting off playing covers but progressing to writing and performing original material. Then, in his late twenties, he began studying classical guitar, eventually completing all eight classical grades and a diploma.

He now makes a living from teaching classical, acoustic and rock guitar, as well as performing with Freeway, the Ultimate Free tribute band.

John first heard about Free from his eldest brother, Allan, in 1970. Allan was (and still is! - Ed.) a huge fan of the band. John clearly remembers Free's first performance on Top of the Pops with All Right Now. He loved The Stealer, and the first album he ever bought was Free Live when it was released.

John was thirteen years old the first time he saw Koss play live. Allan took him to the legendary Sunderland Locarno to see Back Street Crawler. Two weeks later, John saw them again at The Mayfair in Newcastle. He stood at the front of the stage, right in front of Koss, and was mesmerised (and very nearly deafened! - Ed.). Koss's playing was amazing, and John remembers feeling every note he played.  John says, "Since then, I have seen and heard many of the so-called 'great' guitarists, but none of them have had such an impact or moved me so much as Koss did, either recorded or live."

John decided to form a Free tribute band in the mid-90's for two reasons; he had become tired of playing covers that didn't particularly move or inspire him, and secondly, he felt that there was no-one 'out there' doing justice to the music of Free - and of Koss in particular - by playing it authentically. John set out to form a band that would play Free's music exactly as it was meant to be heard - live and loud with passion and integrity.

Since then, the band has developed into the fantastic, full-on Free experience offered to audiences today. John has established himself as the must-see guitarist for all fans of Paul Kossoff. He was particularly delighted to spend two years playing alongside Back Street Crawler's vocalist Terry Wilson Slesser, and to find out for himself why Koss was so devoted to Terry and impressed by his amazing voice.

Another of John's dreams came true when Simon Kirke invited Freeway to join him on his UK-wide tour in 2007, and got up to play with the band for part of the set in front of the fans. Simon was equally excited to share the stage with John, and anyone who has seen Simon play with Freeway will tell you that something very special happens between John and Simon when they are on stage together. The experience was so good, in fact, that Simon toured the UK for a second time with Freeway again last year.

John continues to strive for excellence in all his performances with the band, closely studying even the most obscure recordings of Paul Kossoff to master his style and flair. It's a labour of love for John, and no-one who sees him play could ever doubt that.

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