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Mike Bloomfield / Al Kooper / Steve Stills

Michael Bloomfield was one of America's first great white blues guitarists, earning his reputation on the strength of his work in the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. His expressive, fluid solo lines and prodigious technique graced many other projects -- most notably Bob Dylan's earliest electric forays -- and he also pursued a solo career, with variable results. Uncomfortable with the reverential treatment afforded a guitar hero, Bloomfield tended to shy away from the spotlight after spending just a few years in it; he maintained a lower-visibility career during the '70s due to his distaste for fame and his worsening drug problems, which claimed his life in 1981.

Michael Bernard Bloomfield was born July 28, 1943, into a well-off Jewish family on Chicago's North Side. A shy, awkward loner as a child, he became interested in music through the Southern radio stations he was able to pick up at night, which gave him a regular source for rockabilly, R&B, and blues. He received his first guitar at his bar mitzvah and he and his friends began sneaking out to hear electric blues on the South Side's fertile club scene (with the help of their families' maids). The young Bloomfield sometimes jumped on-stage to jam with the musicians and the novelty of such a spectacle soon made him a prominent scenester. Dismayed with the turn his education was taking, his parents sent him to a private boarding school on the East Coast in 1958 and he eventually graduated from a Chicago school for troubled youth. By this time, he'd embraced the beatnik subculture, frequenting hangout spots near the University of Chicago. He got a job managing a folk club and frequently booked veteran acoustic bluesmen; in the meantime, he was also playing guitar as a session man and around the Chicago club scene with several different bands.

In 1964, Bloomfield was discovered through his session work by the legendary John Hammond, who signed him to CBS; however, several recordings from 1964 went unreleased as the label wasn't sure how to market a white American blues guitarist. In early 1965, Bloomfield joined several associates in the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, a racially integrated outfit with a storming, rock-tinged take on Chicago's urban electric blues sound. The group's self-titled debut for Elektra, released later that year, made them a sensation in the blues community and helped introduce white audiences to a less watered-down version of the blues. Individually, Bloomfield's lead guitar work was acclaimed as a perfectly logical bridge between Chicago blues and contemporary rock. Later, in 1965, Bloomfield was recruited for Bob Dylan's new electrified backing band; he was a prominent presence on the groundbreaking classic Highway 61 Revisited and he was also part of Dylan's epochal plugged-in performance at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. In the meantime, Bloomfield was developing an interest in Eastern music, particularly the Indian raga form, and his preoccupation exerted a major influence on the next Butterfield album, 1966's East-West. Driven by Bloomfield's jaw-dropping extended solos on his instrumental title cut, East-West merged blues, jazz, world music, and psychedelic rock in an unprecedented fashion. The Butterfield band became a favorite live act on the emerging San Francisco music scene and in 1967, Bloomfield quit the group to permanently relocate there and pursue new projects.

Bloomfield quickly formed a new band called the Electric Flag with longtime Chicago cohort Nick Gravenites on vocals. The Electric Flag was supposed to build on the innovations of East-West and accordingly featured an expanded lineup complete with a horn section, which allowed the group to add soul music to their laundry list of influences. The Electric Flag debuted at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival and issued a proper debut album, A Long Time Comin', in 1968. Critics complimented the group's distinctive, intriguing sound, but found the record itself somewhat uneven. Unfortunately, the band was already disintegrating; rivalries between members and shortsighted management -- not to mention heroin abuse -- all took their toll. Bloomfield himself left the band he'd formed before their album was even released. He next hooked up with organist Al Kooper, whom he'd played with in the Dylan band, and cut Super Session, a jam-oriented record that spotlighted his own guitar skills on one half and those of Stephen Stills on the other. Issued in 1968, it received excellent reviews and moreover became the best-selling album of Bloomfield's career. Super Session's success led to a sequel, The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper, which was recorded over three shows at the Fillmore West in 1968 and released the following year; it featured Bloomfield's on-record singing debut.

Bloomfield, however, was wary of his commercial success and growing disenchanted with fame. He was also tired of touring and after recording the second album with Kooper, he effectively retired for a while, at least from high-profile activities. He did, however, continue to work as a session guitarist and producer, and also began writing and playing on movie soundtracks (including some pornographic films by the Mitchell Brothers). He played locally and occasionally toured with Bloomfield and Friends, which included Nick Gravenites and ex-Butterfield mate Mark Naftalin. Additionally, he returned to the studio in 1973 for a session with John Hammond and New Orleans pianist Dr. John; the result, Triumvirate, was released on Columbia, but didn't make much of a splash. Neither did Bloomfield's 1974 reunion with Electric Flag and neither did KGB, a short-lived supergroup with Barry Goldberg, Rik Grech (Traffic), and Carmine Appice that recorded for MCA in 1976. During the late '70s, Bloomfield recorded for several smaller labels (including Takoma), usually in predominantly acoustic settings; 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.

Unfortunately, Bloomfield was also plagued by alcoholism and heroin addiction for much of the '70s, which made him an unreliable concert presence and slowly cost him some of his longtime musical associations (as well as his marriage). By 1980, he had seemingly recovered enough to tour in Europe; that November, he also appeared on-stage in San Francisco with Bob Dylan for a rendition of "Like a Rolling Stone." However, on February 15, 1981, Bloomfield was found dead in his car of a drug overdose; he was only 37. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi
full bio

Comments

I love old soul music CAUSE the men back THEN knew how to treat a REAL WOMAN WIFE MOTHER AND LADY COOKING CLEANING TAKEN CARE OF OUR BABIES WHILE THE MAN BE THE MAN WHO GET THE BREAD IM OLD FASHION A WOMAN THAT IS LOYAL FAITHFUL HONEST TRUE DEDICATED AND DOES WHAT HER MAN LIKE I AM A REAL WOMAN AND I HAVE ALOT OF SOUL AND THE MAN THAT GETS ME WILL BE THE HAPPIEST MAN IN THE WORLD CAUSE I AM A DOWN A** B**CH AND I HAVE PLENTY OF SISTER SOUL IN ME I HAD TO FIND MYSELF AND DO SOME SOUL SEARCHING F
msly5050
While I'm at it, to further separate correct from incorrect... . t h e s e guys are not " Dylan wannabes"! That would be The Band. Kooper, Bloomfield, and Battlefield tau ght Dylan how to use electric instruments, think "Like a rolling Stone". When these three refused to become Dylan's back up band, Dylan then toured with The Band...got it?
msly5050
Also, for the record (if there will be one), include the cut "Stop" to Bloomfield and kooper, not Stills. Stills and Kooper played on the other side of the vinyl, Dylan's song "It takes a lot to laugh, It takes a train to Cry" and Donovan's song "Season of the witch", not exactly Blues of amy kind!!
msly5050
Can we PLEASE get the info right regarding Super Session? You credit the wrong musicians for the wrong songs!! Al Kooper was keyboards. The best blues, "Really" and "Albertson Shuffle" are Michael Bloomfield and Al Kooper. NO Stephen Stills on these cuts. Stills can tale credit for what he really did, if he wants to.
Al Kooper The greatest! That is that! What S O U L & M A G I C K he produced ! OMG!
AL KOOPER is by far the grooviest singer. producer, MUSICIAN coolest greatest understandin g
BEAUTIFUL KEYBOARD singer in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD!! I LOVE HIM too much soooooo
cool….and INCREDULOUS! I know my MUSICIANS >>>>> HE is the TOP! One of the very greatest in this world that no MUSICIAN can even come close to his style and every particle of his enigma..(NY) his players were always the BEST.. I am soooo glad he hated the other Blood Sweat & Tears DCT Booooooo His cues are impeccable XO
msly5050
Steven Stills doesn't play a single note on this cut. It is all Michael Bloomfield on guitar with Al Kooper on keyboards..I wonder where the royalty checks go.
One of all time favorite albums, still enjoy pulling out the vinyl and putting this on the turntable. While I have always enjoyed Stills guitar work, Al Kooper has been the man both in front and behind the curtain for years. A true inside force in the music industry. Get a listen The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper Welcome back 1969!
msly5050
Listening now to the Super Session song Stop beibg credited to Stephen Stills shows me I still have work to do...
msly5050
First of all, Pandora bios Steve Stills on a song that is all Bloomfield and Kooper, no Steve Stills on "Really" . Second, Al Kooper played no guitar, but keyboards, where he was a rock master. Finally, why can't Pandora write a decent biography of Michael Bloomfield?
kvons1
@ Jenn Blackk---the y really weren't under-rated at all. They were some of the best of the times and everybody knew it, but today they are probably less known.
Amazing musicians but so underrated!
just can't believe the way Al Kooper plays...I N C R E D I B L E musician if there ever was.... Super Session is so forever I could never tire of listening to these guys! But Al is such a GENIUS ! He and the guys knew what MUSIC was all about! This was the greatest era I think and there were just so many greats that were around! XO
milosdad
I agree with jdpatriotzfa n . These guys were the s**t. I remember the first time I saw Stills play I was blown away. I'd always thought of the CSN&Y stuff and had ignored his playing. This guy is for real. As for Al Kooper. Same. He could play and had soul. The fact that many of the black greats welcomed these guys into their community speaks volumes. There are a ton of black and white players out there today who cannot touch these musicians.
Wanna Be's? These guys were masters in their own right! Come on anthonydewar 4 2 0 , lighten up!
kvons1
Junior Wells, Howling Wolf, James Cotton, Little Walter are all true greats, but I think Bloomfield, Stills & Kooper are a few miles higher than Bob Dylan wannabe's--- h i s t o r y has well proven that. Funny a** comment though!
anthonydewar 4 2 0

Absolutely horrible. Junior wells. Howling wolf. James Cotton. Little Walter. Those are greats. Not this Bob Dylan wannabe.
MB is the reason I've been a guitar player for 45 years. Thanks!
kvons1
Super Session---on e of the all time best combinations of the BEST! EPIC album!!
Hell Yeah, one of the best ever. I remember listening this on 8-track, while cruising in my GTO. Time flies but this still rocks
pdsk - true indeed, that is a kick a** album. I especially love Stop. It's probably one of my all time favorites.
The Best of the Best.
pdsk
To hear Super Session in 2012 is fantastic it sounds just a current now as it ever has. One of my all time favorite albums, I wore out 2 albums it was played so much. It never gets old.........
mjgonda
awesome
The talent in that mans' fingers was phenomenal.. . I loved him
Super Session is one of the best albums of all time. Great talent.
wcintlinc
It was just my second live event. Paul Butterfield BB with Bloomfield on guitar at the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach, CA. We lost two very gifted musicians, too soon from that group.
what a shame. another loss to hard drugs and alcohol. what a talent gone to waste!
papascaught
yeah, I found half of "live adventures" without a cover in a close out bin in the basement of a sears store. It cost me a buck. I was like 14 years old and I nearly wore out a pair of head phones listening to that. There has never been enough "white boy blues" but these boys knew what they were doing. I love Al Kooper too, but he has never sounded better than he did on those two session albums. (and I got really tired of explaining all through the 70's and beyond that he wasn't Alice Cooper)
I can relate to that, I was blown away by the Witch, while dating a witch in high school, no really.
Season of the witch was the best live jam I've ever heard.Our band played this tune and Matt our lead gutiar played it exactly as was recorded (mistakes and all/therewer e 2) He was an incredble talent.
I remember having a Rolling Stones Magazine where inside, there was a cardboard record featuring a cut from supersession s "Feeling Groovy" 49th street bridge song. The Hammond Organ droaning on with the whirlitzer creating that trademark vibrato of the group. There also was a short sound clip of "God bless the child, Blood sweat and tears on that piece of cardboard. Good sounds to be sure.
ONE ALBUM CREATED SO MANY YEARS AGO...I WAS IN MY EARLY TEENS WHEN THIS GREAT ALBUM WAS AT IT'S HEIGHT.i WAS AT AN EARLY STAGE OF DEVELOPING MY TASTE FOR MUSIC. THIS WAS THE MUSIC THAT I SEEMED TO GRAVITATE TO. AT THAT YOUNG AGE I BELEIVED, WITH NO OUTSIDE INFLUENCE, THIS WOULD ONE OF THE SPECIAL AND ENDURING ALBUMS OF THAT TIME. tHAT SAYS ALOT FOR THE MUSIC, SINCE THERE WAS SO MUCH GOOD MUSIC BEING MADE AT THAT TIME.....STI L L HAVE THE VINYL LP!
I used to see Michael and Al's Super Session and Friend's concerts every time they played at the old Fillmore East in NYC's East Village. The first time I saw them, they introduced Johnny Winter in an amazing performance. To me, Albert's Shuffle is quintessenti a l Bloomfield. Look on the back of most of the best vinyl from the sixties and early seventies, and you will probably find Bloomfield an Kooper's names as backup. Too bad the heroin took him. He was the real thing. R.M.
Time was on my side. Fortiously being able to attend 5 Bloomfield shows at an ethereal now defunct small lounge, "My Father's Place, Rosylyn, Long Island, New York in 1975. Observed from a vantage point never more than 15 feet. Mike Bloomfield always performed in a passionate,t r a n c e like state, hands perfectionat l y producing Wrenching Blues. 'Together Till The End of Time", Mike Bloomfield Be Well, J.P.
Thanks for reminding me just how good this albumn is - I'll have to dig it out of my vinyl stacks in the basement!
stumblebiscu i t
I was fortunate enough to see Michael Bloomfield in a movie theater that was converted into a music hall in Salinas CA in 1969. The man was an awesome guitarist. I really miss him.

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