Paul Butterfield life and biography

Paul Butterfield picture, image, poster

Paul Butterfield biography

Date of birth : 1942-12-17
Date of death : 1987-05-04
Birthplace : Chicago, Illinois, United States
Nationality : American
Category : Famous Figures
Last modified : 2011-10-25
Credited as : blues singer, harmonica player,

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Paul Butterfield was an American blues vocalist and harmonica player.

Paul Butterfield was born on December 17, 1942 to a middle-class family in the Hyde Park neighborhood on Chicago's South Side. Butterfield grew up listening blues and jazz on records that belonged to his brother and father, and on all-night blues shows on the radio. In high school, he was an all-state track star and a talented classical flutist. He was offered a scholarship to Brown University, but turned it down to attend the University of Chicago in Hyde Park.

Part of the U of C's attraction lay in the fact that Hyde Park was surrounded on three sides by Chicago's black South Side. As a teenager, Butterfield was drawn to the blues clubs in the black belt where the greats of Chicago blues were still performing regularly: Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Magic Sam, Otis Rush and others. He soon started playing blues guitar himself.

Eventually Butterfield dropped out of college to devote himself full-time to music. His first break came when Big John's, a Chicago blues bar, invited him and Bishop to play regularly. They accepted, and put together the Butterfield Blues Band, luring bass player Jerome Arnold and drummer Sam Lay away from Howlin Wolf's band with promise of more money. The band was one of the first racially mixed blues groups. In 1965, they brought Michael Bloomfield, who was also playing around Chicago at the time, in to play lead guitar. The group's energy stunned the Chicago blues scene and it wasn't long before they had a recording contract with Elektra Records. While they were making that first album, Mark Naftalin sat in on Hammond organ. His contribution--to eight of the album's eleven cuts--was so impressive that he stayed in the group after the sessions were finished. The band was renamed the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

That first album, simply titled, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, released in 1965, electrified the rock world. These songs were more than just covers of the old blues classics. They indicated a unique sensibility and pushed both blues and rock onto a new plain. Such was the impact of Butterfield's band that it was the first electric group ever invited to play the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. After they finished their well-received set, they took part in one of the legendary performances in rock history: they joined Bob Dylan onstage and accompanied him in his first performance with electric instruments. The set shocked the folk purists in the crowd, calling forth catcalls and boos. According to Butterfield, Pete Seeger even tried to cut the band's power cables backstage to force them to stop playing.

The second album by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, 1966's East-West, explored uncharted territory. Called the first psychedelic album, it introduced an eclectic mix of new elements to the blues, including jazz, country and even Indian music. The 13-minute title track was one of the first extended jams on a rock album, setting a trend in rock that would eventually become de rigueur in hard rock.

The Butterfield band began to change in the latter half of the 1960s. The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw was recorded without Mike Bloomfield, who had left to form the Electric Flag and with a horn section (including the sax of David Sanborn). After the album's release, as it began to move toward a more rhythm & blues sound, Naftalin left the group. The group played the Woodstock Festival in 1969. The same year, Butterfield reunited with Bloomfield and Muddy Waters to make the record Fathers and Sons.
Not long afterwards Butterfield moved to a house in Woodstock. A long period of decline began for the musician. He disbanded the band to form a new group, Paul Butterfield's Better Days, which recorded two relatively uninspired albums. For the rest of the 1970s, Butterfield performed only infrequently, mainly guesting on the records of other artists, making no records of his own. His appearance at the Band's Last Waltz concert was a high point in a period otherwise dominated to increasingly severe alcohol and drug problems.

In 1980, his health took a turn for the worse. He collapses while recording and was found to have a perforated intestine. Over the next few years he was operated on four times for diverticulitis and peritonitis. Around 1983, a fan of Butterfield's, Ray Godfrey, heard about the bad shape Butterfield was in. An investment banker, Godfrey set out to organize a limited partnership that would raise money to fund the regeneration of Butterfield's career. A manager was found, a band put together, and Butterfield returned to touring, often playing with as much intensity as he had ever showed onstage. In 1986 he recorded his last album, The Legendary Paul Butterfield Blues Band Rides Again. The high point of his rejuvenated career was said to be his appearance at a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concert in 1987. He gave a moving speech to his old friend and mentor, Muddy Waters, who was being inducted into the Hall. He then led the assembled musicians in a spirited performance of "Dancin' in the Streets."

In late April, Butterfield's chronic stomach and liver problems flared up again and he had to be admitted to a hospital in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Days later, on May, 4, 1987, he was found dead in his home in Los Angeles. Shortly before his death, he had filmed a TV special with guitarist B.B. King.

Butterfield's discography:

1965 – The Paul Butterfield Blues Band - The Paul Butterfield Blues Band
1966 – The Butterfield Blues Band - East-West
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
1967 - John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers and Paul Butterfield - John Mayall's Bluesbreakers with Paul Butterfield, EP
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)
1997 - The Paul Butterfield Blues Band - An Anthology: The Elektra Years (2 CDs)
2005 - The Butterfield Blues Band - Live - (Limited Edition with additional tracks)

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