Tuesday, April 22, 2014

#46 The Butterfield Blues Band Where Are They Now?

    Paul Butterfield's career as the leader of both The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and then the Butterfield Blues Band establishes him as the master blues singer/ harmonica player of his generation. However, this reputation tends to overshadow his other talents as a songwriter, producer, and his unique skill as a bandleader.  

    Throughout his career he consistently demonstrates both an acute ear for talent, and an ability to successfully lead musicians toward his musical vision. Most of the talent Butterfield hires will become career musicians, and make their own significant contributions to several decades of popular music. It is while playing in one of the Butterfield bands that most will either receive their initial artistic credentials, and launch them into life long careers as great musicians.   

     So, what happens to all of these great musicians after the Butterfield Blues Band ends in 1972? 

     Sam Lay - The blues drummer earns the title the Shuffle Master while on The Paul Butterfield Blues Band. It is on that album, that Lay also makes his first recorded attempt at being the lead vocalist of a band with his interpretation of Muddy Waters' I Got My Mojo Workin' . Unfortunately, Lay contracts the respiratory illness pleurisy, and is forced to hand over his role in the band to Billy Davenport. However, Lay's health will return, and in the coming decades he will record eight solo albums, tour and record with a Who's Who of Chicago Blues, and promote his brief time working with Butterfield. In addition to his many contributions to music, Lay was also a film hobbyist, and made many home movies of life in the Chicago blues clubs of the '50's and '60's. Some clips from these films are shown in a few different music documentaries. As 2014, Lay is still working.

     Jerome Arnold - The quiet, unassuming, conservatively dressed bass player who also happens to be the brother of bluesman Billy Boy Arnold leaves the band after East West. Arnold seems to evaporate from the music business until he resurfaces in London, England during the late '70's.  At some point he changes his name to Julio Finn, and continues working as a bass player for artists like Archie Shepp. During his years living with his new identity, Finn also shows a talent for writing when he composes the liner notes for his brother's album Crying and Pleading, and in 1986 he publishes the book The Blues Man: The Musical Heritage of Black Men and Women in the Americas. He is also a public voice for gay rights, and black history. He is still working.

     Elvin Bishop - The academically gifted Oklahoma farm boy who moves to Chicago with a scholarship to study physics at U.of C., but instead pursues his love of Chicago Blues, becomes a regular in the South Side clubs, and a friend of Butterfield's.  It is while working in the Butterfield band that he hones his skills as a blues guitarist, songwriter and singer. His work on The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, East West, The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw,and In My Own Dream provide him with enough personal, and music industry confidence to leave the band in 1968, and pursue a successful career as a solo artist. As a solo artist,  Bishop will continue to develop his talents to become a respected songwriter, bandleader, and a master of the talking blues style. As of 2014, he has recorded over 20 albums, and enjoyed a #3 pop hit in 1976 with his song Fooled Around and Fell in LoveNext to David Sanborn, he is also the most commercially successful member of all the Butterfield Bands. He is also prodigious gardener, still tours, and records with his band.

     Mike Bloomfield -  He is the only member to enter the band sporting a recording contract with Columbia records, but it is while in The Paul Butterfield Blues Band that his career moves to another level. He becomes the first American guitar hero of his generation while in the Butterfield band. He plays slide & electric guitar, keyboards, contributes creative direction as well as original material to The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and East West. Bloomfield is the primary composer of the first extended instrumental in Rock, East West. He leaves the band after the release of East West, in part, to capitalize on the international recognition he earns while playing in Butterfield's band. Bloomfield will enjoy a successful career as: a guitarist, producer, composer, studio musician, historian, writer, bandleader, and guitar hero. Thanks to to a devoted fan base, his significant contributions to the popular music of a generation are well documented. He died as a result of an apparent drug overdose in San Francisco California on February 15th 1981. 

     Mark Naftalin - The son of the former mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota who moves to Chicago in 1961 to study music, and then on to Mannes College of Music in New York, joins the Butterfield band during the recording of the first album. He will contribute piano, organ, and chart arrangements to The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, East-West, The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw, and In My Own Dream. Tired of life on the road, Naftalin leaves the band in 1968, settles in the San Francisco area and builds a successful career as a studio musician, producer, radio personality, record label owner (Winner Records), and concert promoter. He is still active in the music business.

      Billy Davenport - The Alabama native whose style is inspired by Jazz greats like Louis Bellison, and Art Blakey works with the Butterfield band during East West, and The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw . He leaves the band sighting road fatigue, and undisclosed health problems, and returns to his adopted home of Chicago where he retires from music. However, Davenport resurfaces from 1972 to 1974 to tour with Jimmy Dawkins, Willie Dixon, and Buster Benton, but then retires again from '72 to '81. He finishes his career playing with the Pete Baron Jazztet, and completes several mini-tours with Mark Naftalin as a Butterfield Blues Band tribute revue. He dies in Chicago on December 24th 1999.

     Bugsy Maugh - The Iowa native who does a brief stint with Wilson Pickett before being introduced to Butterfield by Buddy Miles, plays bass and vocals on The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw and In My Own Dream. Butterfield rescues Maugh from obscurity, providing him with a platform to showcase his talents as a soulful interpreter of Rhythm and Blues. After recording two albums with the band, Maugh leaves claiming artistic differences (he doesn't like the pop direction), but quickly signs a two album deal with Dot Records. Both his solo albums, Bugsy and Inside Bugsy are now deleted.  During the later part of the sixties, and into the early seventies he moves to New York, and works as a studio musician for artists like Todd Rundgren (Something-Anything). However, by the '80's he returns to the midwest where he works as a bandleader, and participates in several mini tours with Mark Naftalin, Billy Davenport, and Danny Draher. He is still living and working in the Midwest.

     Philip Wilson - The St. Louis native who is introduced to Butterfield by David Sanborn plays drums, percussion, and some vocals on In My Own Dream, and Keep On Movin' leaves the band to return to Chicago, and play Jazz in Art Ensemble of Chicago. He also works as a band leader, and sideman with several notable Jazz artists including Lester Bowie, and David Braxton. In the early '70's he helps form one of the first Jazz Rock Fusion bands, Full Moon, with other former Butterfield Blues Band members, Buzzy Feiten, Gene Dinwiddie, and Freddie Beckemier. Butterfield and Wilson cross paths several times over the next two decades, most notably for the 1985 album Down by Law by Jazz/Rock Fusion band Deadline.
     On March 25th of 1992, Philip Wilson is murdered at 440 East 9th Street in Manhattan by Marvin Slater who had been stalking the drummer for months. Slater is arrested in 1996 as a result of an episode of the television show America's Most Wanted. He is convicted of the murder in 1997, but never discloses his motive.

     Gene Dinwiddie - The LouisvilleKentucky native and oldest member of the Butterfield band, contributes tenor sax, flute, tambourine, mandolin, arrangements, and vocals, to The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw, In My Own Dream, Keep on Movin', Live and Sometimes I Just Feel Like Smilin.  In addition, his age and knowledge of Jazz often place him in the position of unofficial leader of the band. After the Butterfield Blues Band ends, he records with Greg Allman, Melissa Manchester, James Cotton, and Etta James. He is also a founding member of the Jazz/Rock Fusion band Full Moon. Later he relocates to California where he plays saxophone in his community church, and dies on January 11th 2002.

     David Sanborn - Another St. Louis native Sanborn's entry into the band is a bit of a fluke. He contributes soprano, alto, and baritone saxophones on The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw, In My Own Dream, Keep on Movin', Sometimes I Just Feel Like Smilin'.  After the Butterfield Band ends, Sanborn will work with Butterfield on several recordings. He will also record with too many Jazz, Pop, and Blues artists to list here. In addition, he becomes a bandleader, actor, television host, and the king of smooth jazz in the 70's. As of 2014, he has recorded 31 solo albums, plus movie soundtracks, and earned several Grammy Awards. He is still working.

     Keith Johnson - The New York City musician's primary role in the Butterfield Blues Band is trumpeter, but after Naftalin leaves he also fills in on  piano, and organ. He contributes to The 
Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw, In My Own Dream and Keep On Movin'. After leaving the band in late '69 he returns to New York City where he works as an arranger, trumpeter, keyboardist, and producer. He also does brief stints with Van Morrison, Elephant's Memory, Etta James, and works with his wife in the 70's, Martha Velez. He is still working. 

     Buzzy Feiten - He joins the band as a guitarist when he is only 19 years old, but also contributes organ, piano, vocals, french horn to Keep On Movin'. He becomes disenchanted with the artistic direction (too much pop) of the band, and leaves to pursue a career as bandleader, studio guitarist, writer, producer, and inventor. The catalogue of music that Feiten contributes from 1970 to 2014 is impressive: Felix Caveliere, Rickie Lee Jones, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Tanya Tucker, Edwin Starr, and Jennifer Warnes to name only a few. In addition, he becomes a much imitated guitarist, and develops a reputation as a musician's musician. Feiten is also founder, and leader of the first Jazz/Rock Fusion band Full Moon. In addition, he is also the inventor of the patented Buzz Feiten Tuning System which is popular with guitarists worldwide. He is still working.

    Rod Hicks - The Detroit native joins the Butterfield Blues Band after six years with Aretha Franklin's band, contributes fretless electric bass (a new instrument in the '60's), cello, vocals, and composition to Keep On Movin', Live, and Sometimes I Just Feel Like Smilin'. After the Butterfield Band ends, he moves back to Detroit where he becomes a fixture in the local Jazz scene, and works as a road musician, appearing with Paul Butterfield's Better Day's several times. One of his songs Highway 28 is used by Butterfield on the first Better Days album. Hicks also contributes to 1970's studio albums by artists such as Peter Paul and Mary, & Peter Yarrow. He dies Jan 2nd, 2013 at 71 of cancer. 

    Steve Madaio - The classically trained trumpeter contributes trumpet to Keep On Movin', Live, and Sometimes I Just Feel Like Smilin'. After his position ends with the Butterfield Blues Band, he works as an arranger, and trumpet player with an extensive list of Jazz, Folk, Blues, and Rock artists including B.B. King, Flo & Eddie, Stevie Wonder, Kenny G, Meatloaf, and Rod Stewart. He is also highly respected trumpet teacher studio musician. Still working.

    Teddy (Ted) Harris Jr. - The childhood friend of Motown's Berry Gordy joins the Butterfield band while finishing up a gig with Tony Bennett.  He contributes his skills as an arranger, keyboardist to  Keep on Movin', Live, and Sometimes I Just Feel Like Smilin'. After the band ends he returns to Detroit where he becomes the musical director for the Supremes for sixteen years, writes film scores, plays with Kenny Burrell, Thad Jones,and Lionel Hampton. Harris also becomes a highly respected music teacher in Detroit, and is given several awards, including the key to the City of Detroit in 1993, and title of Detroit's Godfather of Jazz. He dies at 70 in August 2005 of prostate cancer.   

   Trevor Lawrence - The respected New York studio musician joins the Butterfield Blues Band in '69, and contributes baritone sax to Keep On Movin', Live, and Sometimes I Just Feel Like Smilin'. After the band ends he returns to the studio where he works as a composer, arranger, and sax player for artists such as Marvin Gaye, Macy Gray, Etta James, Donny Osmond, Eminem, and Ringo Starr. He also works as the musical director for films such as To Sir with Love 2, in 1996. He is still working.  

     Fred Beckmeier - Beckmeier is introduced to Butterfield in 1969 by Buzzy Feiten, and tours with the band on their Scandinavian tour. He plays bass on some of the tracks for Keep on Movin', but is replaced by Rod Hicks. After leaving the band he contributes to numerous projects, most notably Buzzy Feiten's Jazz/Rock fusion band Full Moon, and then with Beckmier Brothers. The brothers enjoy a minor pop hit, (#53) Rock and Roll Dancin' in 1979. During the late seventies he marries actress Katie Sagal who will later star in the hit television show Married with Children. He is still working.

    George Davidson - The Detroit drummer leaves his job with the Four Tops to contribute to the Butterfield Blues Band: Live, and Sometime I Just Feel Like Smilin'. After the band ends, Davidson returns to Detroit where he plays with the Four Tops, the Supremes, Aretha Franklin, Little Sonny, and Urban Griots. His most memorable contribution to the Butterfield band is his very lyrical drum solo on The Boxer  from the Butterfield Blues Band : Live. He is still working.

     Ralph Wash - The 19 year old California native joins the Butterfield band in late '69, and contributes guitar to Live, and then guitar and vocals to Sometimes I Just Feel Like Smilin'.  At one point B.B. King mentions in an interview that Wash as his favourite guitarist.  After leaving the band he records with Van Morrison, Todd Rundgren, Sylvester, and Country Joe MacDonald in the 70's, and then seems to vanish from the music scene. He dies in 1996.

    Dennis Whitted - plays drums on Sometimes I Just Feel Like Smilin', and then goes on to play with the brilliant blues singer Karen Dalton, and then Geoff Muldaur. He also records with Terrence Boylan,David Sanborn, the Fabulous Rhinestones and Michael Kamen. Whitted's most memorable work can be found on albums by Bonnie Raitt, whom he records, and tours with several times. According to his youngest brother he dies in a motorcycle accident in 1993.

The video is a recording of Philip Wilson's Jazz/Rock Fusion band Deadline. The innovative 1985 album is called Down By Law, and features Paul Butterfield on the most impressive track - Makossa Rock


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