Bentley's Bandstand / September 2016

September 3, 2016

 

Michael Bloomfield: The Rise and Fall of an American Guitar Hero by Ed Ward. There are guitar heroes and then there are guitar heroes. And while Michael Bloomfield might have been a little off the beaten track from the Eric Claptons, Jeff Becks, and all the other ‘60s icons, in so many ways he was the first and the one who actually paved the path for everything that came after. When Bloomfield lit the match to the fuse in the Paul Butterfield Blues Band in 1965, few were prepared for the kind of sonic explosion that occurred. The young Chicago guitarist changed the way so many thought of the electric guitar: it soon became an instrument with no limits, and though he was called a blues man, in reality Michael Bloomfield altered the way every rock & roll guitarist played. He opened up their musical world to a supercharged cosmos, and made the possibilities endless. The Butterfield band’s 1966 song “East-West” still reverberates among millions of psyches as a prayerful improvisation of electric nirvana. This amazing book by Ed Ward is an updated version of his original 1983 tome, but it feels brand new. The breathtaking ride to the top and the crushing fall to the bottom of the musician’s life is captured in full emotional detail, and it becomes obvious in many ways why Bloomfield never really had a chance at success. He wasn’t wired for popular guruhood and did everything he could to make sure it didn’t happen. Bless his heart and hands. An extra-special addition to the book is Rolling Stone magazine founder Jann Wenner’s 1968 interview with Michael Bloomfield. It’s a rollercoaster ride of information and inspiration, and one of the very best the magazine ever did, captured now (again) for posterity. Turn it up.

 

 

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