Wednesday, March 07, 2007


MICHAEL SHRIEVE gave a very heartfelt speech on his induction into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, which did not make it into the official video. We would like to share it with you here.

When I was 16 years old, I called up about a dozen of my musician friends and asked if they wanted to drive up to the Fillmore with me and see if we could sit in. Michael Bloomfield, Steven Stills and Al Kooper were playing together, billed as "Supersession." Every one of my friends said no, that I was crazy. It would never happen. Until I called my last friend, who was older than me and had actually moved out of his parents' house and was living with a girl, said, "Oh man, that sounds great. Hold on a minute," whereupon he spoke to his girlfriend about it and came back to the phone and said to me "Hey, I think I'm just gonna stay in tonight." Needless to say that one phone call is the reason I didn't marry until my early thirties.... At least I can try, I said to myself. It probably won't happen but tomorrow at least I can say that I tried. So I asked my folks, who were always supportive and trusting of my musical endeavors, for the keys to the car and drove the thirty miles up to the Fillmore. I went in and walked up to the stage, pulled on Mike Bloomfield's pant leg, looked up at him and said, " Hey man, I play drums, can I sit in?" Well I was 16 but looked 12 and I fully expected him to either kick me in the face or say "Go away kid!" But instead he said, "Well the drummer's a really nice guy, let me ask him." Uh-oh. Hey, wait a minute, I thought. I was just going to try. Oh no! Well he comes back and says, "Yeah, it's cool, you can play." Oh shit. Then it hits me. I'm going to play with Michael Bloomfield, Steven Stills, and Al Kooper, on the sand stage that I'd seen with Cream, The Yardbirds, Van Morrison, Miles Davis, and BB King? Well, I played but I swear to this day I don't remember one note, not one moment of the jam. That's how scared I was. So we finished playing and now I'm backstage hanging out with the other musicians. Am I cool or what?





[g]An Evening With John Lee Hooker & Mike Bloomfield:[/g]Me and Don Wilson (the cover artist on Robert Johnson's second LP of reissues released on Columbia) were standing by the curb somewhere around where Rush St. and State St. come together in Chicago--near a below ground folk club called the Fickle Pickle. A car screeched to a stop right where we were standing. It was Bloomfield, manic and excited, and he yelled something like, "Come on, John Lee Hooker is in town for one night." We headed out to a dance hall somewhere on the West side of town on W. Roosevelt Road (12th St.) Up a long steep flight of stairs was a really basic large space where things were happening. John Lee was doing his thing, folks were dancing and drinking and, as the night wore on, somehow, John Lee heard that his harp player was getting more money than he was because he was also taking tickets at the door there. John Lee was pissed and held a one-man work stoppage; said he wouldn't play until he was given more money for the gig. As a result, Mike was asked to play some. (It seemed that he was well known in that dancehall.)Well, he did that--and everyone loved him. Folks didn't want him to stop, but Mr. Hooker thought twice about his one-man strike in the light of this new scab labor. He made it known that he wanted to be back on that stage!! Mike moved graciously away and John Lee continued right from where he left off, I think. But it's hard to say because everything John Lee Hooker does sounds alike---at least it does to me--anyhow.
I don't think the problem with the pay went anywhere after that. All seemed forgotten---and/or forgiven.
Several years later after the Electric Flag and other ventures I had to write the obituary for Mike Bloomfield in Come For To Sing magazine. It was one of the hardest writing jobs I ever did. All I really remember about it was how damn mad I was with Mike---for, seemingly, tossing it all away. Same with Butterfield and so many others. Just a huge damn waste.
Still, it's fun remembering this and writing it out. I can almost smell that place...