Yeah, More Music. The Sad and Wonderful Story Of Michael Bloomfield
and Al Wilson.→
[More:]Mike was the scion of a wealthy North Side of Chicago family, who was a self described "social outcast." He also had a gift for playing the guitar. Sneaking out to South Side blues clubs he soaked up the idiom and developed a biting, fluid guitar style. Hooking up with kindred soul Paul Butterfield, and their band
made several excellent albums. Bob Dylan handpicked him to play guitar on "Like A Rolling Stone." Later he formed the early supergroup The Electric Flag
with Nick Gravenites and Buddy Miles where they created a psychedelic big band sound later bowdlerdized by Blood Sweat & Tears. (here's Wine
and Killing Floor
for your delectation). He continued throughout the 70's doing solo work (here's Memphis Radio Blues
), until his body was found in his car. he had been dead a week of a heroin OD.
Al "Blind Owl" Wilson
was a painfully introverted kid from Massachussets, a blues obsessive, and a close associate of guitar legend John Fahey. Hooking up with fellow blues fanatics Henry vestine & Fito de La Parra he formed Canned Heat. Unlike many of his "white blues" peers (including sometime Canned Heat vocalist Bob Hite, who often sounded affected and oversung) Wilson had a delicate touch and comfort with the music he played, nurtured perhaps by a lifetime
of mental illness, loneliness, addiction, and worsening blindness. On The Road Again
and the Heat's cover of Rollin' and Tumblin'
are offered for you listening pleasure. Sadly, Wilson succumbed to addiction and died of an OD at 27 in 1970.
Were these guys innovators or progenitors of the styles they loved? Not by a long shot. But they were worthy inheritors and practicioners and their loss is still felt by music fans. Rest in peace, Mike & Blind Owl.