Back Street Crawler

Back Street Crawler was an English/American hard-rock band that released two albums on Atco in 1975 and 1976. The band took its name from a 1973 solo album by ex-Free guitarist Paul Kossoff, who formed the group with members of Houston rockers Bloontz. After Kossoff’s death in early 1976, the remaining members carried on as Crawler, releasing two albums on Epic in 1977 and 1978.

Members: Paul Kossoff (guitar), Terry Slesser (vocals), Mike Montgomery (keyboards, 1975-76), Terry Wilson (bass), Tony Braunagel (drums), John “Rabbit” Bundrick (keyboards, 1976)


In November 1973, guitarist Paul Kossoff released the album Back Street Crawler on Island Records. It turned out to be the singular solo album by a musician with a storied history.

Kossoff first emerged in Black Cat Bones, a blues-rock band that endured numerous lineup changes on the late 1960s London club circuit. Before they made an album, Kossoff cleared out for guitarist Bob Weston (later Ashkan, Fleetwood Mac), taking with him drummer Simon Kirke. The two formed Free with bassist Andy Fraser and singer Paul Rodgers. 

Between March 1969 and December 1970, Free released four albums: Tons of Sobs, Free, Fire and Water, and Highway. After their early 1971 UK hit “My Brother Jake” (which makes veiled references to Kossoff’s drug addiction), Free splintered.

Kossoff and Kirke formed a rock combo with Japanese bassist Tetsu Yamauchi (of Tokyo psychsters Samurai) and American keyboardist John “Rabbit” Bundrick, a newcomer from Houston, Texas. Their album Kossoff, Kirke, Tetsu and Rabbit appeared in April 1972, by which time Free reformed for the album Free at Last.

Before they could make a followup, Fraser left Free and teamed with guitarist Chris Spedding in Sharks. Free hired Tetsu and Bundrick for the January 1973 release Heartbreaker, which features a drug-addled Kossoff on six of the eight tracks and an auxiliary rhythm guitarist, “Snuffy” Walden, on three numbers. Kossoff made his final exit from Free just prior to their ill-fated US tour in support of the album.

1973: Back Street Crawler

Kossoff recorded Back Street Crawler with a different assortment of musicians on each of its five tracks. Side one consists of “Tuesday Morning” (16:50), a Kossoff original with bassist Trevor Burton (The Move, Pink Fairies), drummer Alan White (Griffin, Yes), and Bundrick.

White also plays on “I’m Ready,” written and sung by Jess Roden with bassist Alan Spenner (Grease Band, Spooky Tooth, Kokomo) and keyboardist Jean Roussel (Juicy Lucy, Hanson).

Roussel also plays on the titular closing track “Back Street Crawler (Don’t Need You No More),” a Kossoff original with bassist Clive Chaman (One) and drummer Conrad Isidore (Jeff Beck Group, Brian Auger’s Oblivion). The latter two played with Roussel in Hanson and later teamed in Hummingbird.

The remaining two tracks feature Kirke with a Free bassist. Tetsu appears on “Time Away,” a co-write with singer–guitarist John Martyn. Fraser and Rodgers appear on “Molten Gold” (6:48), a Kossoff-written Free at Last outtake that also features Bundrick and Roden.

Kossoff produced “Tuesday Morning” and “I’m Ready” with engineers Diga and Tony Platt (Bronco, Mott the Hoople, Quintessence, Patto). The two Kirke numbers were produced by Island’s Bob Potter (Bell + Arc, Curved Air, Lindisfarne, Snafu).

Kossoff associate Sandy Chard photographed the guitarist for the Back Street Crawler cover, designed by Visualeyes, the firm behind 1972/73 album visuals for Amazing Blondel, Frankie Miller, Heads Hands & Feet, Tír na nÓg, Vinegar Joe, and Wild Turkey.

Forms Back Street Crawler

During sessions for his album, Kossoff played on the 1972 Potter-produced Signpost released Old Hat by soul-rockers Uncle Dog, fronted by Carole Grimes (ex-Delivery). He also played on albums by Mike Vernon, Michael Gately, and Traffic drummer Jim Capaldi.

In 1974, Kossoff played on one track (“Hole In the Head”) on Amazing Blondel’s sixth album, the DJM release Mulgrave Street, which also features (non-overlapping) appearances by Bundrick, Kirke, Spenner, and Eddie Jobson. He also played on demos with Uriah Heep guitarist–keyboardist Ken Hensley that remained unheard until the 1994 archival disc From Time to Time.

In early 1975, Kossoff backed Martyn on select dates of the singer’s tour that produced his limited-edition document Live at Leeds, later re-released with bonus tracks featuring Kossoff.

Months later, Kossoff teamed with three members of American hard-rockers Bloontz: bassist Terry Wilson, keyboardist Mike Montgomery, and drummer Tony Braunagel. Their 1973 self-titled album features two songs written by Bundrick, plus two Montgomery compositions (“Jason Blue” and “Long Way Down”) that were added to the setlist of Kossoff’s new band, named after his 1973 album.

Back Street Crawler rounded out its initial lineup with Tyneside singer Terry Slesser, recently of the Raft Records one-off Beckett.


  • The Band Plays On (1975)
  • 2nd Street (1976)


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