Paul Butterfield was the first white harmonica player to develop a style original and powerful enough to place him in the pantheon of true blues greats. It’s impossible to overestimate the importance of the doors Butterfield opened: before he came to prominence, white American musicians treated the blues with cautious respect, afraid of coming off as inauthentic. Not only did Butterfield clear the way for white musicians to build upon blues tradition (instead of merely replicating it), but his storming sound was a major catalyst in bringing electric Chicago blues to white audiences who’d previously considered acoustic Delta blues the only really genuine article. His initial recordings from the mid-’60s — featuring the legendary, racially integrated first edition of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band — were eclectic, groundbreaking offerings that fused electric blues with rock & roll, psychedelia, jazz, and even (on the classic East-West) Indian classical music. As members of that band — which included Michael Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop — drifted away, the overall impact of Butterfield’s music lessened, even if his amplified harp playing was still beyond reproach. He had largely faded from the scene by the mid-’70s, and fell prey to health problems and drug addiction that sadly claimed his life prematurely. Even so, the enormity of Butterfield’s initial impact ensured that his legacy was already secure. Biography by Steve Huey
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band is known as one of the few original Chicago Blues followers. In 1965 and 1966 they made their legendary albums with the original line-up: the self-titled Paul Butterfield Blues Band and the Indian influenced East-West. Among others they played at the Monterey International Pop Festival 1967, too.
It was two years later when this video was made, at Woodstock and much had changed. The original members (except the founder, Paul Butterfield himself) left the band. They added a horn section but the albums didn’t reach the quality of the predecessors. The Woodstock gig seems like the last great struggle of the band. (WoodstockWikia