Blues Summit 1966: Paul Butterfield & John Mayall

Monday, 25 February 2013 06:31 AM Written by 

On November 26, 1966, Paul Butterfield, leader of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, was touring England. He met up with John Mayall, one of England's pre-eminent blues bandleaders, his band the Bluesbreakers an incubator for talent ranging from Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Mick Taylor to Jack Bruce, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. The Butterfield band, at that very moment, had two guitar greats in its ranks: Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop.

Butterfield, a powerful singer who learned his trade sitting in with black blues bands (including Muddy Waters) on Chicago's South Side, was a virtuoso harmonica player whose lyrical style owed plenty to Little Walter. Mayall played keyboard, his own custom built guitars, piano and organ.

Butterfield and Mayall recorded four songs, but in deference to the Butterfield Blues Band's Elektra recording contract, British Decca released the EP only in England. The Bluesbreakers lineup at this point was Peter Green, John McVie and drummer Aynsley Dunbar.

This is the complete, four-song 12:22 video clip: Junior Wells' "Little By Little," (sung by Butterfield) the Mayall original "Eagle Eye" (Mayall), Jimmie Lee Robinson's "All My Life" (Butterfield) and the 1946 Lionel Hampton tune "Riding On The L & N" (Mayall).

The Butterfield Blues Band became a major role model for many American white blues bands as well as some of the top 60's San Francisco bands. They had three moments in the sun: Dylan at Newport in 1965, at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival and at Woodstock in '69.  Butterfield, who battled substance abuse his whole life, died in 1987.  

Mayall, who turns 80 this November, is still on the road, in remarkable shape, having nurtured all the guitarists I mentioned earlier plus Rick Vito, Coco Montoya and Buddy Whittington. 

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