As a teenager living on Chicago's North Shore, Michael Bloomfield ventured downtown to seek out the patriarchs of Chicago blues —Muddy Waters, Albert King, and others —and learned their guitar techniques firsthand. Playing Chicago blues and folk clubs with singer Nick Gravenites and harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite in the early 1960s, he attracted the attention of Paul Butterfield, whose band he joined in 1965 [see entry]. Bloomfield played electric guitar on Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" and later that year on Highway 61 Revisited.
He left the Butterfield band after recording a second album with them and formed the Electric Flag with Gravenites, but quit after their first album [see entry]. Thereafter he devoted himself mainly to studio work and solo ventures, including Super Session with Al Kooper and Triumvirate with John Hammond Jr. (John Paul Hammond) and Dr. John (Mac Rebennack). Bloomfield's last shot at stardom came in 1975 with KGB, an attempt by MCA Records to create a supergroup with Bloomfield, keyboardist Barry Goldberg, bassist Rick Grech, drummer Carmine Appice, and singer Ray Kennedy. After one album, Bloomfield abandoned the group and the corporate music world. He supported himself by scoring pornographic movies. His previous movie soundtrack credits included Medium Cool, Steelyard Blues, and Andy Warhol's Bad. In 1975 he returned to recording solo albums, releasing eight in the six years before his death from an accidental drug overdose. If You Love These Blues, Play 'Em As You Please, a blues guitar "sampler" produced by Guitar Player magazine, was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1977.
This biography originally appeared in The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Simon & Schuster, 2001).
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