HARDCOVER 776 PAGES
Named one of the world’s great blues-rock guitarists by Rolling Stone, Mike Bloomfield (1943–1981) remains beloved by fans nearly forty years after his untimely death. Taking readers backstage, onstage, and into the recording studio with this legendary virtuoso, David Dann tells the riveting stories behind Bloomfield’s work in the seminal Paul Butterfield Blues Band and the mesmerizing Electric Flag, as well as on the Super Session album with Al Kooper and Stephen Stills, Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited, and soundtrack work with Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson.
In vivid chapters drawn from meticulous research, including more than seventy interviews with the musician’s friends, relatives, and band members, music historian David Dann brings to life Bloomfield’s worlds, from his comfortable upbringing in a Jewish family on Chicago’s North Shore to the gritty taverns and raucous nightclubs where this self-taught guitarist helped transform the sound of contemporary blues and rock music. With scenes that are as electrifying as Bloomfield’s solos, this is the story of a life lived at full volume.
"Encyclopedic…packed with enough info to make a blues nerd giddy with joy…[a] rich, resonant, detailed account…this book draws you in the way a novel does, one by Dostoyevsky, say, in which the hero is part genius, part stumblebum, a flawed artist making his way half-aware through a world of joys and pitfalls—someone very much like most of us, in other words, if a lot more talented and a little more careless." (Wall Street Journal 2019-10-18)
"Thanks to new interviews with associates and animated descriptions of Bloomfield's playing, motor-mouth way of talking and scholarly music knowledge, [Bloomfield's] tug of war between the commercial and the uncompromised makes for an absorbing read. Guitar King isn't the first book on Bloomfield but is most fleshed out, and it also feels like one of the last great untold classic-rock tales, right up through Bloomfield's mysterious passing...Even as the book will make you reach for or stream A Long Time Comin’, Super Session, East-West or even Triumvirate (his overlooked 1973 album with John Hammond and Dr. John, another failed supergroup plan) Guitar King gives you its own version of the blues." (Rolling Stone 2019-11-13)
"Bloomfield hated stardom, and what unfolds is the story of a genius ‘relegated to footnote status’ by a self-sabotaging streak Dann lays out in tragic, vivid detail." (Rolling Stone, "Best Music Books of 2019" 2020-01-01)
"A compelling narrative of a young blues fanatic whose problems with drugs and mental instability predated his fame...Those with a passion for the music will enjoy revisiting a time when Bloomfield's influence exceeded even Stevie Ray Vaughn's." (Kirkus 2019-06-24)
"This monumental book illuminates the legacy of a musician who has been overshadowed by other Sixties luminaries but who helped bring the vernacular of the blues to rock and whose playing influenced the course of rock and roll." (Library Journal, Starred Review 2019-07-31)
"Dann makes a persuasive case for how this white kid from Glencoe, Illinois, played a central role in introducing white audiences to urban blues." (Booklist 2019-08-09)
"[A] monumental examination." (Music Connection 2019-10-04)
"Bringing Bloomfield's worlds alive, with sections drawn from his meticulous (you can feel this is more than thorough) research…the author deserves a medal for this work." (Blues Matters 2019-10-14)
"Exhaustive and engaging." (Largehearted Boy 2019-10-19)
"Guitar King is voluminous in size—as befits a man whose contribution to modern music is greater than history has ever acknowledged. Drawing from his deep research and numerous interviews, it is clear that Dann put tremendous effort into this book. It is a biography that puts Bloomfield back into his rightful place on the roster of rock and blues greats. The result is a tremendous and magnificent work." (CounterPunch 2019-11-01)