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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!


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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Driftin' Blues - Paul Butterfield Blues Band

Paul Butterfield (17 December 1942 – 4 May 1987) was an American blues vocalist and harmonica player, who founded the Paul Butterfield Blues Band in the early 1960s and performed at the original Woodstock Festival. He died of drug-related heart failure. The film I'm sorry to say shows the people in the crowd quite a bit (I guess it was thought t hat people would go to see the movie to see if they were in it).
The son of a lawyer, Paul Butterfield was born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in the city's Hyde Park neighborhood, where he attended the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, a private school associated with the University of Chicago. After studying classical flute with Walfrid Kujala of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as a teenager, he developed a love for the blues harmonica, and hooked up with white, blues-loving, University of Chicago physics student Elvin Bishop. The pair started hanging around black blues musicians such as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter and Otis Rush. Butterfield and Bishop soon formed a band with Jerome Arnold and Sam Lay, both hired away from the touring band of Howlin' Wolf. In 1963, the racially mixed quartet was made the house band at Big John's, a folk club in the Old Town district on Chicago's north side. Butterfield was still underage (as was guitarist Mike Bloomfield.)
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band was signed to Elektra Records after adding Bloomfield as lead guitarist. Their original debut sessions were scrapped, to appear in 1995 as The Original Lost Elektra Sessions. A second attempt was recorded live at the Cafe Au Go Go, but these too were rejected by producer Paul Rothchild. Some of the discarded tracks appeared on the What's Shakin LP shared with the Lovin' Spoonful.
Bloomfield formed The Electric Flag with Nick Gravenites, and Bishop began playing lead guitar on The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw (1967). The band (as shown here) now included saxophonists David Sanborn and Gene Dinwiddie, bassist Bugsy Maugh, and drummer Phillip Wilson. In 1967, The Butterfield Blues Band played the seminal Monterey International Pop Festival along with the Electric Flag, Jimi Hendrix, Ravi Shankar, The Who, Otis Redding, the counterculture bands of San Francisco, and many others. Bloomfield can be seen applauding the performance near the end of this performance.
Paul Butterfield died of peritonitis due to drug use and heavy drinking on May 4, 1987 Los Angeles, California. Before then, Butterfield tenor sax player Ruben Riera had taken him to Bellevue Hospital in New York City for emergency surgery for perforated intestine. He died at his home in North Hollywood, California. A month earlier, he was featured on B.B. King & Friends, a filmed concert that also included Albert King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Etta James, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan and Eric Clapton. Its subsequent release was dedicated to Butterfield in memoriam.

In 2005, the Paul Butterfield Fund and Society was founded. It petitions for Butterfield's inclusion in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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