Musician. He was perhaps one of the most influential figures of the electric-blues genre. Born in Chicago, to an attorney and an artist, he was exposed early to a wide variety of music, including jazz and blues. Chicago, known for its abundance of legendary blues pioneers, among them Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters, were instrumental in shaping Butterfield's musical interests. He would become a versatile musician, initially mastering the flute, and later the guitar and harmonica. His talents were not limited to music, as he was a gifted athlete who excelled in track. Following a knee injury, he focused on a music career, meeting Elvin Bishop, they began to assemble a band. They recruited Sam Lay and Jerome Arnold (from Howlin' Wolf's band), and added guitarist Michael Bloomfield and Mark Naftalin, completing the lineup of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, just prior to the recording of their debut album in 1965, under the Elektra record label. In 1965 they played at the Newport Folk Festival, and during that year replaced Lay (due to illness) with noted jazz drummer Billy Davenport. Their Eastern-influenced "East West" album (1966), was a factor in ushering the psychedelic sound, which dominated the music scene of the mid to late 1960s. Bloomfield would depart to form Electric Flag, and there would be other personnel changes after the recording of their "The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw" album (1968). Following an appearance at the Woodstock Festival (1969), Butterfield strayed from the formula which made the group popular, and they were disbanded in 1972. He would form the group Better Days without much success. After a performance in The Band's "The Last Waltz" (1976), and an occasional album, he virtually disappeared from the music industry. Sadly, years of drug and alcohol usage took a heavy toll on his body, and he succumbed from their effects at age 44.
Bio by: C.S.