He was the real deal and not only for suburban white guys. He was born in Chicago, just like the song. He brought the blues to a lot of people who knew only Motown and, maybe, Ray Charles. 1965. Garage bands everywhere soon played the blues. He and Elvin Bishop, a schoolmate, hung around Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Little Walter, and Otis Rush. He could sing his ass off. His harmonica was an instrument that went everywhere and sang, cried, and shouted all the emotions that he hauled around within him. He got a band together and had everyone turn it up until the audience could no longer stay in their seats. He trimmed the edges of the blues and tightened every element.
Born Under A Bad Sign
All his bands were great – Bloomfield, Bishop, Buzzy Feiten, Amos Garrett, and horns Gene Dinwiddie and David Sanborn, and others like Bugsy Maugh, Geoff Muldaur, and Phillip Wilson. The first couple of albums were straight-ahead blues, but he broke things wide open for all kinds of musicians by featuring a wild jam called East/West that ran thirteen minutes on the second side of his second record. The horn band he put together after that owed a lot to Junior Parker. Later, he moved to Woodstock, getting together with Levon Helm, Rick Danko, and Dr. John in the RCO All Stars.
All the late nights, hard nights, and the inevitable excess of the time, took its toll and he died in 1987. No one has ever gotten close to the sound, energy, or emotion of his playing and his singing was just as strong. He always made great music and, through all his performing years, he was a genre and standard of excellence unto himself.