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Q&A with Elvin Bishop

Exclusive Interview by Karen Beishuizen

Elvin Bishop is a blues guitarist who has played with Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield, Jimi Hendrix, BB King, John Lee Hooker and The Allman Brothers. His last two albums with his own band The Big Fun Trio have been Grammy nominated. “100 Years of Blues”, the album he did with Charlie Musselwhite, got a nomination too. He is currently on tour with his own band and doing gigs with Charlie, so go see him when you get a chance!

KB: Why did you choose to play the guitar?

I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma and fell in love with the blues on the radio. Every time I went to a high school dance, I saw the girls gathered around the guitar players. That got me going but it was a slow progress until I got to Chicago in 1960. Blues was really happening there: Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Otis Rush and 100 other great musicians.

KB: How did you meet Paul Butterfield? Tell me about your friendship with him.

I met Butterfield on my first day in Chicago. I saw a white guy sitting on some steps, playing the blues and drinking a quart of beer. My kind of guy. We became friends and spent a lot of time in ghetto bars jamming. I played in bands with Hound Dog Taylor, Junior Wells and Smokey Smothers before Paul got his band together.

KB: Mike Bloomfield joined the band. How was it playing with him?

Mike Bloomfield joined us on the first album. He was one hell of a player and very experienced. I learned a lot from him.

KB: I read you worked or played with Jimi Hendrix?

A lot of jamming went on in the late 60s. I jammed with Jimi Hendrix, BB King and lots of other guys.

KB: You toured with John Lee Hooker and BB King?

I was lucky enough to tour with BB, John Lee Hooker and The Allman Brothers.

KB: Your song “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” was a huge hit in Europe in 1976. Tell me the story behind the song.

“Fooled Around and Fell in Love” just popped into my head one day. A couple of years later we were making the “Struttin’ My Stuff” album and the producer said: ” We need one more tune. Got anything lying around?” So, we did it and Mickey Thomas sang the hell out of it. Here’s a trivia question for you: Who produced both Fooled Around and BB’s Thrill is Gone? Bill Szymczyk!

KB: What are you currently doing?

These days I’m doing gigs with my band The Big Fun Trio. Our last two albums have been Grammy nominated. Also have been doing 2-man gigs with the great harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite. Our album “100 Years of Blues” also got a Grammy nomination. I play a 1959 Gibson 345.

Check out Elvin’s website: HERE
Find him on Facebook: HERE

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