The Paul Butterfield Blues Band has a moment of deserved triumph as it takes its rightful place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Paul Butterfield died when he was just 44 in 1987–long past his moment in the cultural sun–but not before this unique American musician mined the rich, complicated vein between Muddy Waters’ electric Chicago Blues and American rock. With guitar genius Mike Bloomfield this versatile outfit backed up Bob Dylan’s electric debut at Newport and worked with Ravi Shankar.
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band performed seven songs at Woodstock, with “Love March” making the Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More album. “It’s impossible to overestimate the importance of the doors Butterfield opened,” according to Steve Huey’s bio at AllMusic. “Before he came to prominence, white American musicians treated the blues with cautious respect, afraid of coming off as inauthentic.” That bio begins: “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.”