Guitar King: Michael Bloomfield’s Life in the Blues

Univ. of Texas. Oct. 2019. 732p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781477318775. $39.95; ebk. ISBN 9781477318935. MUSIC
Musician, musical historian, and writer Dann (editor, Artenol) presents what may become the definitive biography of 1960s blues-rock guitar virtuoso Michael Bloomfield. This meticulously researched volume recounts how Bloomfield’s love of blues and folk, along with his restless and searching persona, made for a distinctly American story. Dann chronicles Bloomfield’s upbringing in Chicago, his honing of his guitar skills in clubs, and his eventual meeting with Bob Dylan, which led to Bloomfield’s signature guitar playing on “Like a Rolling Stone” and his backing Dylan as he went electric at the Newport Folk Festival. Bloomfield’s work with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and later his own group the Electric Flag, with whom he played at the Monterey Pop Festival, solidified his reputation as a musical innovator. Dann describes gigs, recording sessions, and song creation with intimate detail and scene setting and uses dozens of interviews with Bloomfield’s associates and fellow musicians, as well as other sourced information, for a comprehensive narrative.
VERDICT This monumental book illuminates the legacy of a musician who has been overshadowed by other Sixties luminaries but who helped bring the vernacular of the blues to rock and whose playing influenced the course of rock and roll.

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