While footage of Michael Bloomfield is rare, there are films that show the guitarist in performance. Other clips capture Bloomfield in personal moments with friends. Here is a sampling of those videos, including a 90-minute video biography created especially for this site.
The Butterfield Band tapes a performance at Granada TV Studios, London, for the BBC program "Ready, Steady, Go" on November 15, 1966, during the band's tour of Great Britain.Unknown photographer
These two video clips come from the 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival and show the Electric Flag (ironically listed in the festival's program as The Mike Bloomfield Thing) making its performance debut. Following the band's opening number, "Groovin' Is Easy" (not seen here), Bloomfield makes his "groovy" speech and then the band plays "Over-Lovin' You." "The Night Time Is the Right Time" (also not seen) was next, and then the band finished their set with a rocking version of "Wine," below. Michael's three solo choruses are considered definitive examples of blues-rock guitar. Bloomfield is also briefly seen after the band's performance offering his views on the "Summer of Love." Footage from "Monterey Pop" (1968)
This brief excerpt from the 1967 ABC-TV program "The Songmakers" shows the Paul Butterfield Blues Band performing for a fraternity dance at Columbia College in New York City in December 1966. The footage clearly conveys the intensity of band's music as the crowd rocks to the beat. The group had just returned from a month-long tour of Britain and was at the height of its considerable powers. In a little more than two months, though, Michael Bloomfield would quit to form the Electric Flag.
THIS SHORT CLIP shows Mike Bloomfield playing a slow blues with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, sitting in with his former employer at the Cafe Au Go Go in New York City on the weekend of November 24, 1967. Bloomfield's own band, the Electric Flag, was making its New York debut that weekend at the Bitter End. Michael is seen playing a Les Paul Goldtop, a rare two-knob model that was not his but must have belonged to someone in Butterfield's group. Saxophonists Gene Dinwiddie and David Sanborn can be seen in the background.
THESE TWO MONTAGEs, created by filmmaker Ira Schneider, capture a few moments of the Electric Flag's opening set on Friday, November 24, 1967, at the Bitter End in New York City. The band was making its East Coast debut, and the tune being played above is probably "Groovin' Is Easy" while the one below is likely "Killing Floor." A recording of the songs taken from the band's Boston gig a week before has been added to the footage give a feel for the intensity of the Flag's performance. Films are used by permission of the filmmaker.
IN December 1971, manager Albert Grossman arranged for a partial reunion of the original Butterfield Band to appear at the reopening of Boston's Fenway Theater. With Paul for the two nights of shows were Michael Bloomfield and Mark Naftalin, backed by bassist John Kahn and drummer Billy Mundi. The Dec. 10 and 11 shows were a sellout and were extensively covered in the press. They were also videotaped by Robert Lewis, and Bob his posted his footage – about 60 minutes of great Butterfield, Bloomfield and Naftalin – at YouTube.
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band in performance at the Tribal Stomp, held at the Greek Theater in Berkeley on Oct. 1, 1978. It was the group's fourth and final reunion. In the band, along with Butterfield, are Michael Bloomfield, Elvin Bishop, Mark Naftalin and Sam Lay. Sitting in for Jerome Arnold is Bloomfield's bassist, Roger "Jellyroll" Troy. Introducing the band is producer Chet Helms. This footage comes from a feature film project that was scuttled due to problems obtaining rights.
BLOOMFIELD FREQUENTLY recorded himself playing and singing in his home on Reed Street in Mill Valley. Here he jams with his friend Jon Cramer, an aspiring actor and musician. Cramer sings Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" and Michael accompanies him, offering a stunning interpretation of the song. Though it's a casual, unscripted performance and the two friends are just fooling around, Bloomfield clearly knows the tune well. The audio comes from the guitarist's personal collection of recordings, courtesy of Norman Dayron.
DRUMMER SAM LAY'S wife filmed these brief scenes at a press party, probably to promote Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited" album which was soon to be released. The event took place at the Cafe Au Go Go in New York City in late August or early September, and seen are members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Oscar Brown Jr., all of whom were appearing at the club at the time. Dylan jokes around while Jerome Arnold amuses everyone by swigging from a champagne bottle. This clip was used in Martin Scorsese's Dylan documentary "No Direction Home."
Michael Bloomfield visits his friend Nick Gravenites, probably in 1970 or '71. Gravenites was an integral part of Bloomfield's Electric Flag and a long-time Chicago friend and musical partner. In this video clip from a film made at Nick's house, Michael is shown arriving, greeting Nick and Big Brother member Dave Getz, and then showing them some records he's brought along. This brief segment was originally shared by RhineStonerman on YouTube. We've added some music and comments from Gravenites made during a 1995 interview with author Bill Keenom.
THIS CLIP COMES from a 1974 appearance that Mike Bloomfield made on host Chip Monck's television talk show "Speakeasy" in New York City. Guitarist Alvin Lee from Ten Years After and Bloomfield's frequent collaborator Al Kooper were the other guests. To end the show, Michael agreed to eat fire, a stunt he regularly performed with the Butterfield Band when they would do an extended version of "East-West." "It's easy," says Michael, while Monck stands nervously by. Kooper accompanies on piano, playing "What's New."