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Paul Butterfield

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Paul Butterfield


The distorted squall of harmonica that drives songs such as "Born in Chicago" made Paul Butterfield one of the most influential characters in introducing young white audiences to electric blues in the 1960s. Alongside other Chicago blues icons like Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, Butterfield fused 12-bar blues forms with elements of rock and hard-driving RnB for a sound that became synonymous with their hometown. Unlike other Chicago icons, Butterfield was white, affluent and classically schooled. After studying flute as a youth, he entered the University of Chicago, where he eventually put together a band with Elvin Bishop and Mike Bloomfield and signed to Elektra for a 1965 debut. His influence peaked in the late '60s, when he played both the Monterey Pop Festival and Woodstock, and though his popularity declined through the '70s and '80s, he continued to perform widely until his death from a heart attack in 1987. His pivotal impact on rock music can be heard in the bluesy overtones of seminal classic rock from bands like the Rolling Stones, the Animals and the Yardbirds, as well as garage-rock revivalists like the White Stripes and Black Keys.
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