Peter Wolf Inducts the Paul Butterfield Blues Band Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Influential Chicago blues act the Paul Butterfield Blues Band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tonight (April 18). Appropriately, before the honor, Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello and country star Zac Brown, along with Jason Ricci on harmonica, performed a fiery version of the band's "Born in Chicago."
In a post-performance interview backstage, Morello talked about how much the musicianship of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band appealed to him. That was evident in his playing during "Born in Chicago," which was evocative and passionate -- matched only in intensity by Ricci, who was so overcome by the blues that he crouched down as he played.
Peter Wolf of the J. Geils Band gave a laid-back speech that underscored the Paul Butterfield Blues Band's status as pioneers and blues innovators. "The Paul Butterfield Blues Band brought something different to the genre, and they kicked down the door, and showed others how to really do it real differently," he said.
"The [band] created their own signature sound that still prevails today, and they were an important part in creating a new chapter that brought volume and fury to the electric blues, and pioneered a new genre, that many, like the Grateful Dead, the Doors, Santana, Steve Miller, the Allman Brothers, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t include the Geils band, [followed]."
Wolf also pointed out that the band's various members were integral to the Paul Butterfield Blues Band's success. “Witnessing the chemistry between them was spellbinding," he said. "When East-West was released it became a real rock 'n' roll milestone."
Watch the Surviving Members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band's Acceptance Speeches
Surviving Paul Butterfield Blues Band members -- including keyboardist Mark Naftalin, guitarist Elvin Bishop and drummer Sam Lay -- as well as the late Butterfield's sons, spoke after Wolf.
Naftalin recalled starting in the band in 1959 when he was just 14. "I made more money with them than my paper route," he recalled, but added, "I hung on to the paper route." Still, he was clearly humbled by the induction: "It's an honor and a privilege to be part of something historical."
Bishop, who was sporting overalls and a green, red and blue plaid shirt, was jovial. "I'm older than all of you here," he said cheerfully, while noting he also pre-dates rock n' roll, including artists such as Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. But, he noted, they all had one thing in common: "Heavy blues roots."
The guitarist acknowledged the mainstream influence of the group. "That was a butt-kicking band, and we helped blues cross over to the general public," he said, while also pointing out how they proved "people of different races can work together and do good."
Post-induction, the surviving members gathered together to perform "I Got My Mojo Working." Unsurprisingly, the group jammed on the song like they were in a smoky, Chicago blues club, underscoring why their induction was long overdue.
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