And This is Maxwell Street


Mike Bloomfield

Mike Bloomfield, 1964


Mike Bloomfield
Michael Bloomfield

Born July 28, 1943, Chicago, Illinois
Died February 15, 1981, San Francisco, California

One of the most talented and influential of all American guitarists

1956: Got his first guitar

1957: Began visiting clubs in Chicago's South Side

"Not content with viewing the scene from the audience, Bloomfield was known to leap onto the stage, asking if he could sit in as he simultaneously plugged in his guitar and began playing riffs." - All Music Guide To The Blues

1964: Scouted by legendary A & R man John Hammond Sr., Bloomfield signed with Columbia Records as the Group with Charlie Musselwhite and Nick Gravenites

Early 1965: Joined the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and enjoyed his first major public attention.

"He astonished those viewers who had watched black guitarists spend a lifetime, and still not play with as much fluidity and feeling as Bloomfield." The Guiness Who's Who of Blues, 2nd Edition.

Also in 1965, he was Bob Dylan's lead guitarist at the "turning point" performance at the Newport Folk Festival.

1966: Performed on Dylan's classic "Highway 61 Revisited"

1967: Left Paul Butterfield and formed Electric Flag. They performed at the Monterey Pop Festival to considerable acclaim.

1968: "Super Session" with Al Kooper and Stephen Stills

1981: "Bloomfield was found dead in his car from a suspected accidental drug overdose, a sad end to a 'star' who had constantly avoided stardom in order to maintain his own integrity." The Guiness Who's Who Of Blues, 2nd Edition.

Although Bloomfield is nowhere featured, the "And This Is Maxwell Street" tapes include some of the earliest known recordings of Mike Bloomfield, who would have been about 21 at the time they were made in 1963. Gordon Quinn, who did the sound work on the film, recalls that Bloomfield was playing with Robert Nighthawk and John Lee Granderson on "Dust My Broom" in And This is Free, and that filmmaker Mike Shea intentionally kept him off-camera.

The photo of Bloomfield above is one from a single roll of surviving Ektachrome slides of Bloomfield playing at Mike Shea's Huron Street Studio in Chicago in late 1963 with Norman Mayall on drums (later of Sopwith Camel fame) and Mike "Gap" Johnson playing second guitar.

©Allan Murphy, Colin Talcroft 1997


Return to The musicians

Return to the Home Page