D.O.D.: 1981 (San Francisco, CA)
Cause of Death: Drug Overdose
Location: Hillside Memorial; Courts of the Book Mausoleum. Sanctuary of Meditation Crypt 314 Third row from the bottom on the left
An indifferent student and self-described social outcast, Bloomfield immersed himself in the multi- cultural music world that existed in Chicago in the 1950s.
He got his
first guitar at age 13. Initially attracted to the roots-rock sound of Elvis
Presley and Scotty Moore, Bloomfield soon discovered the electrified big-city
blues music indigenous to Chicago. At the age of 14 the exuberant guitar wunderkind
began to visit the blues clubs on Chicago’s South Side with friend Roy Ruby in
search of his new heroes: players such as Muddy Waters, Otis Spann, Howling
Wolf, and Magic Sam. Not content with viewing the scene from the audience,
Bloomfield was known to leap onto the stage, asking if he could sit in as he
simultaneously plugged in his guitar and began playing riffs.
contract but not much else, Bloomfield returned to playing clubs around Chicago
until he was approached by Paul Rothchild, the producer of the Paul Butterfield
Blues Band albums. Bloomfield was recruited to play slide guitar and piano on
early recordings (later released as The
Lost Elektra Sessions) which were rejected for not fully capturing the sound
of the band. Although more competitors than friends ("I knew Paul [and I]
was scared of him" remembered Mike), the addition of Bloomfield to the
Butterfield Band provided Paul Butterfield with a musician of equal caliber --
Paul and Michael inspired and challenged each other as they traded riffs and
musical ideas, one establishing a pattern and the other following it, extending
it, and handing it back.
By the late
seventies Bloomfield's continuing drug and health problems caused erratic
behavior and missed gigs, alienating a number of his old associates. Bloomfield
continued playing with other musicians, including Dave Shorey and Jonathan
Cramer. In the summer of 1980 he toured Italy with classical guitarist Woody
Harris and cellist Maggie Edmondson. On November 15, 1980, Bloomfield joined Bob
Dylan on stage at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco and jammed on "Like
A Rolling Stone," the song they had recorded together 15 years earlier.
Michael Bloomfield was found dead in his car of a drug overdose.
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