- Paul Butterfield
Infobox musical artist
Name = Paul Butterfield
Background = solo_singer
Born = Birth date|1942|12|17|mf=y
Died = Death date and age|1987|5|4|1942|12|17
Harmonica, Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
Blues-rock, Chicago blues, Electric blues
Years_active = 1963 -1987
Associated_acts = The Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Paul Butterfield (
December 17 1942– May 4 1987) was an American blues harmonicaplayer and singer, and one of the earliest white exponents of the Chicagooriginated electric bluesstyle. The impact on the course of rock and rollby the Butterfield Blues Band with the release of their first album, "The Paul Butterfield Blues Band", and the song "Born In Chicago" in particular, was pivotal. They, along with British acts The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Yardbirds, John Mayall's Bluesbreakersand others, including Butterfield's main competitor in Chicago, singer/harp player Charlie Musselwhite, helped introduce young white America to the blues, influencing hundreds of bands from the Grateful Deadto the Allman Brothers, and launched the brief reign of Mike Bloomfieldas America's most influential rock guitarist.
The son of an affluent lawyer, Paul Butterfield was born and raised in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:wifoxq95ldje~T1 All Music Guide biography] ] After studying classical
fluteas a teenager, he developed a love for the blues harmonica, and hooked up with white, blues-loving, University of Chicago physics student Elvin Bishop(later of "Fooled Around and Fell In Love" fame). The pair started hanging around black blues musicians such as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and Junior Wells. Butterfield and Bishop soon formed a band with Jerome Arnold and Sam Lay (both of Howlin' Wolf's band). In 1963, a watershed event in introducing blues to a white audience in Chicago occurred when this racially mixed ensemble was made the house band at Big John's, a folk musicclub in the Old Town district on Chicago's north side. Butterfield was still underage (as was guitarist Mike Bloomfield, who was already working there in his own band).
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band was signed to
Elektra Recordsafter adding Bloomfield as lead guitarist. Their original debut albumwas scrapped, then re-recorded after the addition of organist Mark Naftalin. Finally, their self-titled debut, "The Paul Butterfield Blues Band", was released in 1965.
Newport Folk Festivalof 1965, Bob Dylanclosed the event with the help of Butterfield's band (without Butterfield himself, however), a move considered controversial at the time by much of the folk music establishment.
After the release of "The Paul Butterfield Blues Band", Lay accidentally shot himself (he subsequently recovered and played drums for
Muddy Watersand James Cottonamong others) and Billy Davenport took over on drums. The Butterfield Band's second album, " East-West" (1966) reflected the music scene's interest in sitargreat Ravi Shankar and other Eastern musicians. Although only moderately successful commercially, it was also critically acclaimed.
These two albums are generally considered to be widely influential. Butterfield's band helped to introduce modern 'Chicago-style' blues to mainstream white audiences, along with bands like Cream. In addition, one of the roots of psychedelic (acid)
rock musicis the fusion of Eastern and Western music styles as in Butterfield's "East-West".
At the height of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band's success, Mike Bloomfield quit the band and formed
The Electric Flagwith Nick Gravenites, and Bishop began playing lead guitar on " The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw" (1967). The album showed that Butterfield was moving to another musical direction, with a horn sectionand a soulful, R&B influenced sound. The album included David Sanborn, Brother Gene Dinwiddie, Bugsy Maugh and Phil Wilson, and proved to be the last of the Butterfield band's commercial successes.
In the same year, the
Monterey International Pop Festivalwould showcase The Butterfield Blues Band, along with The Electric Flag, Ravi Shankar, and many others.
After 1968's release "In My Own Dream", both Bishop and Naftalin left at the end of the year. Billy Davenport and new guitarist
Buzzy Feitenjoined the band on its 1969 release "Keep On Moving" which was received coolly by the music press. Though the Butterfield band was floundering commercially, it was still popular enough to play at the Woodstock Festival— although their performance was not included in the resulting "Woodstock" film. In 1969 Butterfield also took part in a live concert at Chicago's Auditoirum Theater and subsequent recording session organized by record producer Norman Dayron, featuring Muddy Watersbacked by Otis Spann, Michael Bloomfield, Sam Lay, Donald "Duck" Dunn, Paul Oscher, and Buddy Miles, which was recorded and released as "Fathers And Sons" on Chess Records.
Following the releases of "Live" and "Sometimes I Just Feel Like Smiling" in 1970, Butterfield broke up the band and returned to Woodstock,
New York. He formed a new group including guitarist Amos Garrett, Geoff Muldaur, Maria Muldaur, pianist Ronnie Barronand bassistBilly Rich and named the ensemble as 'Better Days'. This group released "Paul Butterfield's Better Days" and "It All Comes Back" in 1972 and 1973 respectively. Although neither were commercially successful, both albums were received well by critics.
The late 1970s and early 1980s saw Butterfield as a solo act and a
session musician, doing occasional televisionappearances and releasing a couple of albums. He also toured as a duo with Rick Danko, formerly of The Band, with whom he performed for the last time in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He also toured with another member of The Band, Levon Helm, as a member of Helm's "RCO All Stars", which also included most of the members of Booker T and the MGs, in 1977. In 1986 Butterfield released his final studio album, "The Legendary Paul Butterfield Rides Again". [ [http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/musician.php?id=3796 Allaboutjazz.com] ]
Butterfield played and endorsed (as noted in the liner notes for his first album) Hohner harmonicas, in particular the diatonic ten-hole 'Marine Band' model. He played using an unconventional technique, holding the harmonica upside-down (with the low notes to the righthand side). His primary playing style was in the second position, also known as 'cross-harp', but he also was adept in the third position, notably on the track 'East-West' from the album of the same name, and the track 'Highway 28' from the "Better Days" album.Seldom venturing higher than the sixth hole on the harmonica, Butterfield nevertheless managed to create a variety of original sounds and melodic runs. His live tonal stylings were accomplished using a Shure 545 Unidyne III hand-held microphone connected to one or more Fender amplifiers, often then additionally boosted through the venue's public address (PA) system. This allowed Butterfield to achieve the same extremes of volume as the various notable sidemen in his band.
Butterfield also at times played a mixture of acoustic and amplified style by playing into a microphone mounted on a stand, allowing him to perform on the harmonica using both hands to get a muted, 'wah-wah' effect, as well as various vibratos. This was usually done on a quieter, slower tune.
"Born In Chicago" was covered by the
Pixiesfor their 1990 Elektra compilation album, " Rubáiyát".
*1965 – The Paul Butterfield Blues Band - "The Paul Butterfield Blues Band"
*1966 – The Butterfield Blues Band - "
*1966 – The Butterfield Blues Band - "Live at Unicorn Coffee House"
*1966 - The Butterfield Blues Band - "
What's Shakin'" - Elektra compilation album
*1967 – The Butterfield Blues Band - "
The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw"
*1968 – The Butterfield Blues Band - "In My Own Dream"
*1969 – The Butterfield Blues Band - "Keep on Moving"
*1970 - The Butterfield Blues Band - "Live"
*1971 – The Butterfield Blues Band - "Sometimes I Just Feel Like Smilin' "
*1972 - The Butterfield Blues Band - "An Offer You Can't Refuse" (recorded 1963)
*1972 - Paul Butterfield Blues Band - "Golden Butter/The Best of the Butterfield Blues Band"
*1973 – Paul Butterfield's Better Days - "Better Days"
*1973 – Paul Butterfield's Better Days - "It All Comes Back"
*1976 - Paul Butterfield - "Put It In Your Ear"
*1981 - Paul Butterfield - "North-South"
*1986 - Paul Butterfield - "The Legendary Paul Butterfield Rides Again"
*1995 - The Paul Butterfield Blues Band - "The Original Lost Elektra Sessions" (recorded 1964)
*1996 - The Butterfield Blues Band - "Strawberry Jam"
*1996 – The Butterfield Blues Band - "East-West Live" (recorded between 1966-1967)
*2005 - The Butterfield Blues Band - "Live" - (
Limited Editionwith additional tracks)
And you can also hear Butterfield's harmonica in:
*1968 - Jimi Hendrix - "Blues at Midnight"
*1969 - Muddy Waters - "Fathers and sons"
*1975 - Muddy Waters - "Woodstock Album"
*1976 - The Band - "The Last Waltz"
* [http://www.mikebloomfield.com/ Official Mike Bloomfield Site]
* [http://www.mikebloomfieldamericanmusic.com/ Michael Bloomfield Chronology & Analysis]
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