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Mike Bloomeld

2 The Buttereld Band

For the astronaut, see Michael J. Bloomeld.

During those haunts, he met Paul Buttereld and Elvin

Bishop, ran his own small blues club, the Fickle Pickle,
and was discovered by legendary Columbia Records producer/scout John Hammond, who signed him to the label
at a time when the label had had no recent association
with blues.

Michael Bernard Mike Bloomeld (July 28, 1943

February 15, 1981) was an American musician, guitarist,
and composer, born in Chicago, Illinois, who became
one of the rst popular music superstars of the 1960s
to earn his reputation almost entirely on his instrumental prowess, since he rarely sang before 1969 and 1970.
Respected for his uid guitar playing, Bloomeld knew
and played with many of Chicagos blues legends even
before he achieved his own fame, and was one of the primary inuences on the mid-to-late 1960s revival of classic Chicago and other styles of blues music. In 2003 he
was ranked at number 22 on Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time[1] and 42nd in 2011 by the
same magazine.[2] He was inducted in the Blues Hall of
Fame in 2012 and with the Paul Buttereld Blues Band,
in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.

Bloomeld recorded a few sessions for Columbia in 1964

(which weren't released until after his death), but ended
up joining the original Paul Buttereld Blues Band, which
included Bishop and Howlin' Wolf rhythm section alumni
Sam Lay and Jerome Arnold.

Their exuberant, electric Chicago blues inspired a generation of white bluesmen, with Bloomelds work on
the bands self-titled debut, and the subsequent record
East-West, bringing wide acclaim to the young guitarist.
Especially popular was East-Wests thirteen-minute title track, an instrumental combining elements of blues,
jazz, psychedelic rock, and the classical Indian raga.
Bloomelds innovative solos were at the forefront of the
ground-breaking piece. He had been inspired to create
East-West after an all-night LSD trip according to one
legend, but a subsequent anthology of the Buttereld band
1 Early years
included a booklet saying Bloomeld had also been inuenced by John Coltrane and other blues-friendly freeBloomeld was born into a wealthy Jewish-American style jazz musicians, plus traditional Indian and Eastern
music in creating the piece. (The original title for the
family on the North Side of Chicago but preferred music to the family catering equipment business, becom- piece was The Raga.)
ing a blues devotee as a teenager and spending time at Bloomeld was also a session musician, gaining wide
Chicagos South Side blues clubs, playing guitar with recognition for his work with Bob Dylan during his rst
some black bluesmen (Sleepy John Estes, Yank Rachell, explorations into electric music. Bloomelds sound was
Little Brother Montgomery). Bloomelds family eventu- a major part of Dylans change of style, especially on
ally moved to suburban Glencoe, Illinois, where Bloom- Highway 61 Revisited; his guitar style melded the blues ineld attended New Trier High School for two years before uence with rock and folk. Al Kooper has since revealed
being expelled. He attended Cornwall Academy in Mas- in the booklet accompanying the posthumous Don't Say
sachusetts for one year before returning to Chicago where That I Ain't Your Man: Essential Blues, 19641969 that
he spent his last year at the local YMCA school.[3]
Dylan had invited Bloomeld to play with him permaThe young guitarists talent was instantly obvious to his nently but that Bloomeld rejected the invitation in order
mentors, wrote Al Kooper, Bloomelds later collabora- to continue playing the blues with the Buttereld band.
tor and close friend, in a 2001 article. They knew this But Bloomeld and fellow Buttereld members Jerome
was not just another white boy; this was someone who Arnold and Sam Lay appeared at the Newport Folk Festruly understood what the blues were all about.[4] Among tival in 1965, backing Dylan for his controversial rst live
his early supporters were B. B. King, Muddy Waters, Bob electric performance.
Dylan and Buddy Guy. Michael used to say, 'Its a natural. Black people suer externally in this country. Jewish
people suer internally. The suerings the mutual fulcrum for the blues.[4]

Rock critic Dave Marsh, in Rock and Roll Soul: The 1001
Greatest Singles of All Time, claimed Bloomeld to have
been the lead guitarist for Mitch Ryder's hit Devil with
the Blue Dress. However, Marshs claim is disputed by

Bloomeld collaborator Barry Goldberg, who played keyboards on that track. For the online bio, The Bloomeld
Notes (#6), Barry states that Mike played on the following recording after Devil, and Sock it to Me, another
track mistakenly credited to Bloomeld.


reined in, compared to his incendiary live performances.

Could I put him in a studio setting where he could feel
free to just burn like he did in live performances?"

The result was Super Session, a jam album that spotlighted Bloomelds guitar skills on one side; Bloomelds
chronic insomnia caused him to repair to his San Francisco home, prompting Kooper to invite Stephen Stills to
complete the album. It received excellent reviews and
3 The Electric Flag
became the best-selling album of Bloomelds career; its
success led to a live sequel, The Live Adventures of Mike
Bloomeld tired of the Buttereld Bands rigorous tourBloomeld and Al Kooper, recorded over three nights at
ing schedule and, relocating to San Francisco, sought to
Fillmore West in September 1968.
create his own group. Bloomeld left to form the shortlived Electric Flag in 1967 with two longtime Chicago cohorts, organist Barry Goldberg and vocalist Nick Graven4.1 Solo work
ites. The band was intended to feature American music, a hybrid of blues, soul music, country, rock, and
Bloomeld continued with solo, session and back-up
folk, and incorporated an expanded lineup complete with
work from 1969 to 1980, releasing his rst solo work Its
a horn section. The inclusion of drummer Buddy Miles,
Not Killing Me in 1969. He recorded an album called Try
whom he hired away from Wilson Pickett's touring band,
It Before You Buy It which Columbia declined to release
gave Bloomeld license to explore soul and R&B. The
a year later. Bloomeld also helped Janis Joplin put her
Electric Flag debuted at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival
Kozmic Blues Band (for the album of the same name)
and issued an album, A Long Time Comin', in April 1968
together in 1969, co-wrote Work Me, Lord for the alon Columbia Records. Critics complimented the groups
bum, and played the guitar solo on Joplins blues compodistinctive, intriguing sound but found the record itself
sition One Good Man. Columbia also released another
somewhat uneven. By that time, however, the band was
1969 album, a live concert jam, Live at Bill Grahams Fillalready disintegrating; rivalries between members, shortmore West, including former Buttereld bandmate Mark
sighted management, and heroin abuse all took their toll.
Naftalin, former Electric Flag bandmates Marcus DouShortly after the release of that album, Bloomeld left his
bleday and Snooky Flowers, and a guest appearance by
own band, with Gravenites, Goldberg, and bassist Harvey
Taj Mahal; and, re-uniting with former bandmates Paul
Brooks following.
Buttereld and Sam Lay for the Chess Records all-star
Released in 2002, Groovin' Is Easy, contains the set, Fathers and Sons, featuring Muddy Waters and Otis
following 9 songs; Spotlight, I Was Robbed Last Spann, also the same year. Bloomeld also composed
Night, I Found Out, Never Be Lonely Again,"Losing and recorded the soundtrack for the lm, Medium Cool
Game, My Baby Wants To Test Me,"I Should Have by his cousin, Haskell Wexler set during the Democratic
Left Her,"You Don't Realize and Groovin' Is Easy.
Convention in Chicago in 1968.

Work with Al Kooper

For a time, however, Bloomeld gave up playing because

of his heroin addiction:
During the late 1970s, Bloomeld recorded for several
smaller labels, including Takoma Records. Through
Guitar Player magazine he also put out an instructional
album with a vast array of blues guitar styles, titled If
You Love These Blues, Play 'Em as You Please. Bloomeld also performed with John Cale on Cales soundtrack
to the lm Caged Heat in 1975.

Bloomeld also made an impact through his work with

Al Kooper, with whom he had played with Stephen Stills,
on the album Super Session in 1968. The direct impetus
for the record, according to Kooper, was the twosomes
having been part of Grape Jam, an improvisational addendum to Moby Grape's Wow earlier in the year.
In 1973, Bloomeld teamed with Dr. John and John
Why not do an entire jam album together?" Kooper Hammond, Jr. for an album called Triumvirate, Bloomremembered in 1998, writing the booklet notes for the elds nal album under his Columbia contract. In 1974
Bloomeld anthology Don't Say That I Ain't Your Man: Bloomeld hooked up with a failed supergroup called
Essential Blues, 1964-1969. At the time, most jazz al- KGB, from the initials of Ray Kennedy (co-writer of "Sail
bums were made using this modus operandi: pick a leader On, Sailor"), Barry Goldberg on keyboards and Bloomor two co-leaders, hire appropriate sidemen, pick some eld on guitar. The band had a rhythm section of Ric
tunes, make some up and record an entire album on the y Grech on bass and Carmine Appice on drums. Grech
in one or two days. Why not try and legitimize rock by ad- and Bloomeld immediately quit after its release, stating
hering to these standards? In addition, as a fan, I was dis- they never had faith in the project. The album was not
satised with Bloomelds recorded studio output up un- well received, but it did contain the standout track Sail
til then. It seemed that his studio work was inhibited and On, Sailor. Its authorship was credited only to Wilson-

Kennedy, and had a bluesy, darker feel, along with
Ray Kennedys original cocaine related lyrics. Through
the 1970s, Bloomeld seemed satised to play in local San Francisco Bay Area clubs, sitting in with other
bands. During 19791981 Bloomeld performed often
with the King Perko Band, often introducing them as
his own Michael Bloomeld and Friends outt. Bloomeld recorded Hustlin' Queen, written by John Isabeau
and Perko in 1979. Bloomeld had planned a tour to
Sweden to complete an album of his favorites, including
Hustlin' Queen. Aside from a triumphant return to the
stage sitting in with Bob Dylan at the Wareld in 1980
his rock star days were behind him.


The exact events and circumstances that led to his death

are not clear. What is known is that Bloomeld was
found dead of a drug overdose in his car on February 15,
1981.[6] The only details (from unnamed sources) relate
that Bloomeld died at a San Francisco party, and was
driven to another location in the city by two men who
were present at the party. His tombstone is in the Hillside
Memorial Park Cemetery, Culver City, near Los Angeles.

Beck, Bloomeld rarely experimented with feedback and

distortion, preferring a loud but clean, almost chiming
sound with a healthy amount of reverb. One of his
ampliers of choice was a 1965 Fender Twin Reverb.
Bloomelds solos, like most blues guitarists, were based
primarily on the minor pentatonic scale and the blues
scale. However, his liberal use of chromatic notes within
the pentatonic framework, and his periodic lines based on
Indian and Eastern modes, allowed a considerable degree
of uidity to his solos. He was also renowned for his use
of vibrato.
Gibson has since released a Michael Bloomeld Les
Paulreplicating his 1959 Standardin recognition of
his eect on the blues genre, on helping to inuence
the revived production of the guitar, and on many other
guitarists.[8] Because the actual guitar had been unaccounted for so many years, Gibson relied on hundreds of photographs provided by Bloomelds family to reproduce the guitar. The model comes in two
congurationsa clean Vintage Original Specications
(VOS) version with only Bloomelds mismatched volume and control knobs, missing toggle switch cover, and
kidney-shaped tuners replacing the Gibson originals indicating its inspiration; and, a faithful, process-aged reproduction of the guitar as it was when Bloomeld played it
last, complete with the nish smudge below the bridge
and various nicks and smudges elsewhere around the

His inuence among contemporary guitarists continues

to be widely felt, primarily in the techniques of vibrato,
natural sustain, and economy of notes. Guitarists such
Bloomelds musical inuences include Scotty Moore, as: Joe Bonamassa, Arlen Roth, Carlos Santana, Slash,
Chuck Berry, Little Richard, B.B. King, Big Joe Jimmy Vivino, Chuck Hammer, Eric Johnson, Elliot EasWilliams, Otis Rush, Albert King, Freddie King and Ray ton, Robben Ford, John Scoeld, Jimmy Herring, Phil
Keaggy, remain essentially inuenced by Bloomelds
Bloomeld originally used the Fender Telecaster, though early recorded work.
he had also used a Fender Mustang while recording for
Columbia following his 1964 signing to the label. During
his tenure with the Buttereld Blues Band he switched 7 Selected discography
to a 1954 Gibson Les Paul model, which he used for
some of the East-West sessions and which he was said to
7.1 The Paul Buttereld Blues Band
have found in Boston. In due course, according to biographers Jan Mark Wolkin and Bill Keenom, Bloomeld
The Paul Buttereld Blues Band (1965)
swapped that guitar for a 1959 Les Paul Standard and
$100. This was the guitar Bloomeld used as a mem East-West (1966)
ber of the Electric Flag, and on the Super Session album
and concerts. He later veered between the Les Paul and
The Original Lost Elektra Sessions (Unreleased
the Telecaster, but Bloomelds use of the Les Paul
recordings from 1964)
as did Keith Richards with the Rolling Stones and Eric
East-West Live (Various live versions of the track
Claptons with John Mayallinuenced many others to
use the model, helping prod Gibson to re-introduce the
line (which it had discontinued in 1960) by mid-1968.
Bloomeld eventually lost the guitar in Canada; Wolkin
and Keenoms biography revealed a club owner kept the 7.2 Electric Flag
guitar as partial compensation after Bloomeld cut short
The Trip (1967)
a round of appearances. Its location today is unknown.


Unlike contemporaries such as Jimi Hendrix and Je

A Long Time Comin' (1968)

The Band Kept Playing (1974)
Groovin' Is Easy (Released 2002)



Its Not Killing Me (1969)

Try It Before You Buy It (1973) (Remained unreleased until the 1980s, Additional recordings during
these sessions were released on Bloomeld: A Retrospective in 1983)
If You Love These Blues, Play 'Em As You Please
Analine (1977)
Michael Bloomeld (1978)
Count Talent And The Originals (1978)
Between A Hard Place And The Ground (1979)
Bloomeld-Harris (1979)
Cruisin' For A Bruisin' (1981)



Medium Cool (1969) Original Film Soundtrack featuring Bloomeld and others
Steelyard Blues (1973) Original Film Soundtrack
with Nick Gravenites and others
Mill Valley Bunch Casting Pearls (1973), with Bill
Vitt, Nick Gravenites and others
Triumvirate (1973), with John Hammond and Dr.
KGB (1976) Ray Kennedy Vocals, Barry Goldberg Keyboards, Mike Bloomeld Guitar, Ric
Grech Bass, Carmine Appice Drums

7.5 Selected session work

Highway 61 Revisited Bob Dylan (1965)
Chicago Loop (1966)
Grape Jam Moby Grape (1968) Played Piano
Living with the Animals Mother Earth (1968);
credited as Makal Blumfeld due to contractual
Fathers and Sons Muddy Waters (1969)

'Blueskvarter' (recorded 1964, published 2007)

many Swedish CDs, recordings on Swedish radio.
Bloomeld plays guitar with Little Brother Montgomery, Sunnyland Slim, Yank Rachell, Eddie Boyd
and others

I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama! Janis

Joplin (1969)

Super Session Bloomeld, Kooper and Stills (1968)

this album has since been remastered, with new
editions featuring several Bloomeld performances
not included on the original album, including Blues
for Nothing and Fat Gray Cloud.

Gandharva Beaver & Krause (1971)

Weeds Brewer & Shipley (1969)

Sam Lay in Bluesland Sam Lay (1970)

Brand New Woody Herman and His Orchestra


The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomeld and Al 7.6

Kooper (1968)

Fillmore East: Al Kooper and Mike Bloomeld. The

Lost Concert Tapes 12/13/68, (recorded 1968, pub
lished 2003)

Two Jews Blues (1969), with Barry Goldberg; uncredited due to contractual constraints.

My Labors (1969) with Nick Gravenites

Live at Bill Grahams Fillmore West (1969) with
Nick Gravenites, Taj Mahal, Mark Naftalin. (Note:
some of the performances at the same concerts that
yielded this album were included on My Labors.
Those performances, except for Winter Country
Blues, are now part Live at Bill Grahams Fillmore
West 1969, released in 2009 and credited to Michael
Bloomeld with Nick Gravenites and Friends.)

Posthumous releases
Living in the Fast Lane (1981)
Bloomeld: A Retrospective (1983)
I'm With You Always (Live recordings from McCabes Guitar Shop, Santa Monica, CA; 1977)
Between The Hard Place and the Ground (Dierent
to the original 70s LP containing further selections
from McCabes Guitar Shop)

Don't Say That I Ain't Your Man: Essential Blues,

19641969, an anthology that includes ve songs
from Bloomelds original 1964 Columbia sessions.
Live at the Old Waldorf (Recorded live in 1976 and
1977 by producer Norman Dayron at the Old Waldorf nightclub)

Barry Goldberg & Friends Live (Features Mike on
guitar on most tracks)
Michael Bloomeld, Harvey Mandel, Barry Goldberg & Friends (with Eddie Hoh on drums) Solid
Blues, ed . 1995 (St.Clair Entertainment Group
The Holy Kingdom: Music Of The Gospel 1998 Mike
Bloomeld Performed 2 songs; Wings Of An Angel and You Must Have Seen Jesus. Other Artists
on the Album included The Five Blind Boys Of Alabama, The Cavaliers and The Swan Silvertones.
If You Love These Blues by Wolkin & Keenom
(Miller Freeman Books, 2000)contains a CD of
early recordings made by Norman Dayron
From His Head to His Heart to His Hands: An AudioVisual Scrapbook (2014); a Columbia Legacy career retrospective, produced by Al Kooper, including tapes from Bloomelds original audition for
John Hammond at Columbia Records in 1964, previously unissued live performances, and a DVD that
includes the documentary lm Sweet Blues: A Film
About Mike Bloomeld, directed by Bob Sarles and
produced and edited by Bob Sarles and Christina
Keating. The lm premiered at the Mill Valley Film
Festival in October 2013.[9]


[1] The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. August 27,

2003. Archived from the original on July 1, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
[2] 100 Greatest Guitarists: Mike Bloomeld.
Stone. Retrieved January 1, 2015.

9 Sources
Michael Bloomeld Me and Big Joe, Re/Search
Publications, 1st edition 1980, ISBN 0-940642-00X. Last d. V/Search, December 1999, ISBN 1889307-05-X EAN 978-1889307053
Michael Bloomeld' If You Love These Blues:
An Oral History Backbeat Books, 1st edition
September 2000 ISBN 978-0-87930-617-5 (with
CD of unreleased music early recordings made by
Norman Dayron )
Ken Brooks The Adventures of Mike Bloomeld
and Al Kooper with Paul Buttereld and David Clayton Thomas Agenda Ltd, February 1999, ISBN 1899882-90-1 ISBN 978-1-899882-90-8
Al Kooper Backstage Passes: Rock 'N' Roll Life in
the Sixties Stein & Day Pub (1st edition February
1977) ISBN 0-8128-2171-8 ISBN 978-0-81282171-0
Al Kooper Backstage Passes and Backstabbing
Bastards: Memoirs of a Rock 'N' Roll Survivor Billboard Books (Updated Edition September 1998)
ISBN 0-8230-8257-1 ISBN 978-0-8230-8257-5
Al Kooper Backstage Passes and Backstabbing
Bastards Hal Leonard Corporation, new edition
February 2008, ISBN 0-87930-922-9 ISBN 978-087930-922-0
Ed Ward Michael Bloomeld, The rise and fall
of an American guitar hero, Cherry Lane Books
(1983), ISBN 0-89524-157-9 ISBN 978-0-89524157-3


[3] Michael Bloomelds Early Days, Part II. Retrieved

[4] Bloomelds Doomed Field. Retrieved 2008-03-20.
[5] Wolkin, Jan Mark; Keenom, Bill (2000). Michael
Bloomeld: If You Love These Blues. San Francisco:
Miller Freeman Books. ISBN 0-87930-617-3. OCLC
[6] Michael Bloomeld Biography. Retrieved 2011-12-30.
[7] Wenner, Jann S. (April 6, 1968). Archives | Mike
Bloomeld Interview Part 1. Jann S. Wenner. Retrieved
[8] Gibson Gibson Guitar: Electric, Acoustic and Bass
Guitars, Baldwin Pianos. Retrieved
[9] MVFF36 Sweet Blues: A Film About Mike Bloomeld. Retrieved 2014-06-14.

10 External links
Ocial Mike Bloomeld Site
Michael Bloomeld.
September 30, 2006). (accessed

Mike Bloomeld, An American Guitarist

Bloomelds Doomed Field by Al Kooper
Michael Bloomeld Chronology & Analysis
Mike Bloomeld at Find a Grave
Gibsons Replica of MIke Bloomelds 1959 Les
Paul Standard Guitar




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