Bloomfield's 59 burst

Lhdr

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Where is it? Just revisiting some of this mans work. Man could he play. Just sounds so raw. Who's got it?
 

Rocco Crocco

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The disappearance of Bloomfield's fabled '59 Les Paul Standard is the stuff of legend. Accounts vary from teller to teller, but the most likely scenario was recalled by Mark Naftalin. Michael had been hired by a Vancouver club for a week-long gig with Michael Bloomfield & Friends. Naftalin said in an interview for Wolkin & Keenom's "If You Love These Blues ..." that Bloomfield played the first few shows and then left, leaving one of his terse notes of apology behind. The club owner kept Michael's guitar as compensation for his losses, and Bloomfield did nothing to try to get it back. Mark could offer no reason for Michael's abrupt departure.

One scenario for the Les Paul's disappearance takes place in the winter of 1974. It's possible that Michael abandoned his prize instrument during a five-day run from November 12-16, 1974, at an upscale night club in Vancouver called The Cave. The venue was an odd choice for Bloomfield's loosely structured, blues-based repertoire (the performer who appeared the following week was Playboy Bunny Barbi Benton), and Michael may have been put off by the reception the band received from the Cave's patrons. He may also have wanted to see the PBS Soundstage tribute to Muddy Waters that he had recorded in Chicago in July; it was set to air the second week in November but was not being carried by Canadian television.

On the other hand, producer Toby Byron, who was living with Michael at the time, recalls that the '59 Sunburst was not lost until sometime after the fall of 1975. He can't say precisely when it disappeared, but he is certain Michael had it for much of 1975.

Whatever the date for the guitar's loss, after the winter of 1974-75 the '59 Sunburst was never to be seen again. And, interestingly enough, one resident of Vancouver claimed that not only the Sunburst was lost when Michael failed to fulfill his gig contract, but the Blue Telecaster as well.

As an aside, a guitar collector reported having an opportunity to buy Bloomfield's Sunburst in Toronto in 1980 for $4,000. He later regretted passing up the chance
to acquire a formidable piece of American music history, but did say that the eventual purchaser brought the guitar back to the States. Some sources say a collector in Florida has it, while others claim a woman in Chicago now owns it. Where the Blue Tele is today is anyone's guess.
 

Michael Segui

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Bobburst refretted it in Canada in the 1980s according to his Instagram page

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Lhdr

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Those markings look like an exact match! Who’s is bobburst and more importantly, how the hell did he get it and what did he do with it?

I didn’t realize Bloomfield really beat the English boys at their game. By 1959 he was already playing blues clubs on the south side of Chicago. Quite remarkable for a rich white kid from the North Suburbs.
 

EasyAce

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I didn’t realize Bloomfield really beat the English boys at their game.
Correction---the English boys had to try beating MB at his own game.

By 1959 he was already playing blues clubs on the south side of Chicago. Quite remarkable for a rich white kid from the North Suburbs.
There was a lot more to MB's youth, unfortunately, than just being a rich white kid from the north suburbs. You can get the full story in these two books . . .

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Lhdr

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Excellent, thank you. I’ll try and get some copies. I grew up in the same town as Bloomfield. Pretty white, pretty rich. Unfortunately I was busy listening to AM pop radio in the early 70’s in grade school to even think about the blues. Didn’t really discover and delve into blues until I met some professional players at the Chicago Blues clubs in the 80’s. I’m a loser. Always a late bloomer. Just got my first Les Paul after 43 years of playing.

So where is it?
 

RAG7890

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:cheers2:
 

Liam

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Correction---the English boys had to try beating MB at his own game.
The English boys' lineage took on being white and privileged many 100s of years before Mike Bloomfield was born, giving Beck, Clapton, Page, Green and so many others a longer time period to absorb privilege culturally. MB did an exceptional job of absorbing culture, and playing guitar beautifully, along with many others too. I'd prefer to avoid turning music into a competition. That Peter Green was at least pretty good doesn't make me hold Bloomfield in any lower estimation. We are lucky to have had any of them. Many of my favourite players are/were neither white nor privileged, and most often not both. I sincerely hope music is still levelling the playing field.

Liam
 

EasyAce

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The English boys' lineage took on being white and privileged many 100s of years before Mike Bloomfield was born, giving Beck, Clapton, Page, Green and so many others a longer time period to absorb privilege culturally.
The reference wasn't to anyone's "privilege" or culture, but to the fact that MB (via his work with the Butterfield Blues Band and Bob Dylan) was knocking the blues and pop world on its ears just before anyone caught onto the British blues people in earnest.
 

Lhdr

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That was kind of my point. Bloomfield was already playing alongside the greats in Chicago before any of the British. He was kind of first I guess. I wasn't aware how early he started.

Looking forward to those books as I don't know much about him. What I do know is my first time listening to the Butterfield Blues band, I was struck at how authentic it sounded compared to what I was hearing from the early British takes. At least based upon comparison to the stack of records I had from Muddy, Junior Wells, James cotton etc. that I was listening to. Butterfield and Bloomfield really sounded authentic if I’m allowed to say that word. Not trying judging anyone. Just sounded different.

What do I know.
 

Liam

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The reference wasn't to anyone's "privilege" or culture, but to the fact that MB (via his work with the Butterfield Blues Band and Bob Dylan) was knocking the blues and pop world on its ears just before anyone caught onto the British blues people in earnest.
Sorry! I got that, but I'm a Tea Bag (i.e. British). My post was intended to be self-deprecating and tongue in cheek (at which it seems I failed ;) ), and offers no disrespect to Mike Bloomfield. Let's just call it some embarrassment about much of Britain's imperial/colonial past, coupled with living in a time when everyone seems to be very careful about what they say and how they say it. Privilege can go either way, depends what you do with it.

FWIW, I think the British blues boom was probably to an extent coming from a generation that grew up in the 50s with rationing, in a dismal and slightly broken country, identifying with the frustrations, sadness and also joy that the music expresses so well. All a bit before my time, but John Mayall and Alexis Korner caught onto this a lot earlier than most would think - Muddy Waters brought electric blues to the UK in 1958, and inspired a lot of people. I am not sure there was any class privilege or skin colour that mattered much in any of it. Always seems that it was a great leveller, and brought people together rather than pushing them apart. I wasn't born, but it seems there was a respect for Black American musicians. It somehow didn't seem to extend to many of our more numerous workers moving in from Caribbean colonies.

I think Mike Bloomfield would have been pretty simultaneously discovering and starting to play the music at the same time as his contemporaries in the UK, and most definitely doesn't get the respect deserved now, quite possibly because he wasn't exotically imported to the USA alongside The Beatles. I am sure lot of UK guitarists would have caught onto what he was doing, just as Jimi Hendrix caught onto Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. Tough trying to be a prophet in your own land, especially after the fact, but he is definitely under-appreciated.

Listened to Blood on the Tracks while fixing guitars this evening. Will make sure it's Highway 61 Revisited next time. I'll enjoy it.

Liam
 

EasyAce

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FWIW, I think the British blues boom was probably to an extent coming from a generation that grew up in the 50s with rationing, in a dismal and slightly broken country, identifying with the frustrations, sadness and also joy that the music expresses so well. All a bit before my time, but John Mayall and Alexis Korner caught onto this a lot earlier than most would think - Muddy Waters brought electric blues to the UK in 1958, and inspired a lot of people . . .
I've heard Mayall, Korner, Eric Clapton, and others from England speak of just those things as an impetus to their pursuit of the music.
 


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