Five For Friday: Mike Bloomfield (One Guy, Multiple Acts)

Mike Bloomfield has been one of my guitar heroes since hearsing him on the Super Session album with Al Kooper, but I didn’t realize that he had been with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band before that. Mike squeezed a lot of blues into the 16 years he was active before his death in 1981 at only 37 years old. Here are a few highlights.

  1. Paul Butterfield Blues Band, "Our Love Is Drifting": Mike joined the Paul Butterfield Blues Band before their eponymous 1965 debut album. He was with Butterfield at the Newport Folk Festival when Bob Dylan went electric, the Butterfield band providing backup. "Our Love Is Drifting" was a Paul Butterfield-Elvin Bishop composition.
  2. The Electric Flag, "Killing Floor": After leaving Butterfield, Mike moved to San Francisco and formed The Electric Flag with fellow Chicagoan Nick Gravenites and drummer Buddy Miles. "Killing Floor" is from their 1968 album A Long Time Comin’ and is a cover of a Howlin’ Wolf song.
  3. Al Kooper & Mike Bloomfield, "Albert’s Shuffle": Al Kooper and Mike made several albums together, including the aforementioned Super Session album from 1968. Mike and Al were scheduled to do the session over two days, but Mike didn’t show up for the second day, so Side 2 features Stephen Stills. "Albert’s Shuffle" is the first song on the album.
  4. Triumvirate, "It Hurts Me Too": Triumvirate was the name given to the trio of John Hammond, Dr. John, and Mike. Actually, their eponymous 1973 album was a John Hammond record, but they did do a tour to promote the album. "It Hurts Me Too" is an often-covered tune by Tampa Red.
  5. Mike Bloomfield, "The Sky Is Cryin’": 1998’s Live At The Old Waldorf was a 1998 posthumous release of Bloomfield in concert from 1977. "The Sky Is Cryin’" is a cover of an Elmore James song.

Mike was also featured on albums with Big Brother & The Holding Co. (Janis Joplin’s backup band) and on Bob Dylan’s first electric album, Highway 61 Revisited, as well as other collaborations. He was found dead in his car in 1981; though there was an empty bottle of Valium in the car with him, his death was considered accidental, although there were no drugs found in his system.

Mike Bloomfield, your Five For Friday, November 20, 2020.

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