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Guitar King: Michael Bloomfield's Life in the Blues by [David Dann]

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Guitar King: Michael Bloomfield's Life in the Blues Kindle Edition

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Editorial Reviews


Encyclopedic…packed with enough info to make a blues nerd giddy with joy…[a] rich, resonant, detailed account…this book draws you in the way a novel does, one by Dostoyevsky, say, in which the hero is part genius, part stumblebum, a flawed artist making his way half-aware through a world of joys and pitfalls—someone very much like most of us, in other words, if a lot more talented and a little more careless. ― Wall Street Journal Published On: 2019-10-18

Thanks to new interviews with associates and animated descriptions of Bloomfield's playing, motor-mouth way of talking and scholarly music knowledge, [Bloomfield's] tug of war between the commercial and the uncompromised makes for an absorbing read.
Guitar King isn't the first book on Bloomfield but is most fleshed out, and it also feels like one of the last great untold classic-rock tales, right up through Bloomfield's mysterious passing...Even as the book will make you reach for or stream A Long Time Comin’Super SessionEast-West or even Triumvirate (his overlooked 1973 album with John Hammond and Dr. John, another failed supergroup plan) Guitar King gives you its own version of the blues. ― Rolling Stone Published On: 2019-11-13

Bloomfield hated stardom, and what unfolds is the story of a genius ‘relegated to footnote status’ by a self-sabotaging streak Dann lays out in tragic, vivid detail. ―
Rolling Stone, "Best Music Books of 2019" Published On: 2020-01-01

A compelling narrative of a young blues fanatic whose problems with drugs and mental instability predated his fame...Those with a passion for the music will enjoy revisiting a time when Bloomfield's influence exceeded even Stevie Ray Vaughn's. ―
Kirkus Published On: 2019-06-24

This monumental book illuminates the legacy of a musician who has been overshadowed by other Sixties luminaries but who helped bring the vernacular of the blues to rock and whose playing influenced the course of rock and roll. ―
Library Journal, Starred Review Published On: 2019-07-31

Dann makes a persuasive case for how this white kid from Glencoe, Illinois, played a central role in introducing white audiences to urban blues. ―
Booklist Published On: 2019-08-09

[A] monumental examination. ―
Music Connection Published On: 2019-10-04

Bringing Bloomfield's worlds alive, with sections drawn from his meticulous (you can feel this is more than thorough) research…the author deserves a medal for this work. ―
Blues Matters Published On: 2019-10-14

Exhaustive and engaging. ―
Largehearted Boy Published On: 2019-10-19

Guitar King is voluminous in size―as befits a man whose contribution to modern music is greater than history has ever acknowledged. Drawing from his deep research and numerous interviews, it is clear that Dann put tremendous effort into this book. It is a biography that puts Bloomfield back into his rightful place on the roster of rock and blues greats. The result is a tremendous and magnificent work. ― CounterPunch Published On: 2019-11-01

In this exhaustive, detailed doorstopper of a tome, Dann...explores seemingly every nook and cranny of [Bloomfield's] music…with
Guitar King, the spotlight is absolutely on the subject, a wealthy, Jewish kid who just wanted to play the blues. ― Houston Press Published On: 2019-10-23

Breathtaking…Monumental and massive,
Guitar King gives its subject a suitably epic feel, even as it moves at a brisk pace through the peaks and valleys of Bloomfield's life. ― Chairman Ralph Published On: 2019-11-02

Readers of
Guitar King will be both impressed and frustrated as they read the fascinating tales of Bloomfield's life. The rocker always seemed at the precipice of stardom, but whether it was turning down Bob Dylan or getting deep into the world of drugs, he continually found ways to be his own worst enemy. ― Ultimate Classic Rock Published On: 2019-11-15

Guitar King] goes beyond previous Bloomfield books to examine his music and turbulent life at a near-molecular level…[Dann] reveals the depths of Bloomfield's musical passions, genius and personal despair…Guitar King establishes his pivotal role in American music history. ― Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Published On: 2019-12-06

This is the definitive book on Michael Bloomfield…
Guitar King reads like a novel with stunning points of new information and a great compassion for the vagaries of Bloomfield's life…[Guitar King is] one of the greatest books written about any musician, of any genre. ― PolitiChicks Published On: 2019-12-07

[Dann] adds detail and nuance to our understanding of the life and career of a guitarist who was one of the most respected performers of his generation. ―
The Current Published On: 2019-12-11

Guitar King is] a rich and definitive presentation that will enhance the converted and convert the unfamiliar. ― The Oakland Press Published On: 2019-12-16

A volume that's both extremely detailed and a very enjoyable read from beginning to end…[
Guitar King] is worth the considerable investment of time you'll need to digest the whole tome, and a significant addition to blues-rock scholarship. ― Folkrocks, "Top Two Dozen Rock Books of 2019" Published On: 2019-12-30

Bloomfield's emblematic life is tirelessly documented in
Guitar King. ― Shepherd Express Published On: 2019-12-23

Holding a reader's interest through hundreds of pages is a daunting task in a work of non-fiction, but Dann keeps the story flowing in a way that steadily helps readers develop a truer sense of Bloomfield the artist, and the person…No matter how much knowledge you may already have about Michael Bloomfield, reading Dann's biography will certainly add multiple layers of understanding about his life and the extent of his influence on the lineage of blues guitar playing...[
Guitar King is a] magnificent tribute to a man who undoubtedly was a 'Guitar King,' making this book a highly recommended addition to any musical library! ― Blues Blast Magazine Published On: 2020-02-20

Dann gives accounts of episodes in Bloomfield's life like he was there, even describing Bloom's fill and solos on any given night like a guitar player telling another guitar player all about it. Fans of Bloomfield will find it hard to put the book down and music history buffs will respect the fales involved...Dann's writing puts you there next to Bloomfield as he encounters the legends in his orbit like Dylan, Butterfield and Bloom's competitors like Eric Clapton...and Jimi Hendrix. ―
Punk Globe Published On: 2020-02-29

Dann offers close to eight-hundred pages virtually all of which are worth equally careful reading. Even the play-by-plays of studio and stage performances, including the ill-conceived super-group KGB, conjure a palpable sense of suspense…there's a sense of purpose in Dann's writing mirroring that of Bloomfield's and that makes
Guitar King hard to put down once the reading starts and delivers a dual sense of melancholy and accomplishment when it's complete...Compelling reading from start to finish...only this prolific artist's music itself could be a more vivid act of advocacy. ― All About Jazz Published On: 2020-02-29

Without doubt, author David Dann has the goods on who could well be the most exciting electric guitarist to come out of all the 60s’ musical machinations. And though the ’70s were pretty much a bust for Bloomfield, the decline and eventual sad demise of this nonpareil bluesman holds so many intriguing what-could-have-beens that for anyone who is super-interested in how the modern musical landscape was born and why it went so far south during the ’70s for such a pivotal original, this is the tome that tells the tale. ―
Americana Highways Published On: 2020-04-06

[Dann] restores Bloomfield to the prominence he once enjoyed, careful to avoid hagiography as he documents the musician's rise to glory and swift, heartbreaking (but seemingly inevitable) demise. ―
MOJO Published On: 2020-02-01

Essential reading for serious rock and blues fans. ―
Goldmine Magazine Published On: 2020-05-11 --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.


Michael Bloomfield was a heart-to-hand guitar player who was able to take everything he learned from B. B. King, Hubert Sumlin, and everyone else he ever encountered―including the piano style of Little Brother Montgomery―and turn it all inside out and make it his own. He is still the well I draw from for inspiration in the blues, and I drink from it daily. Written from heart to hand just like Bloomfield played his music, Guitar King is a must-read book for all guitar players and music fans alike. It should be the final word on Michael Bloomfield’s journey and his legacy. -- Jimmy Vivino, music director on Conan and leader of Jimmy Vivino and the Basic Cable Band --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B07R3DFD6L
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ University of Texas Press (October 15, 2019)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ October 15, 2019
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 11063 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 775 pages
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.8 out of 5 stars 179 ratings

About the author

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David Dann is a commercial artist, music historian, writer and amateur musician who has worked for many years in the news industry, including serving as co-publisher of an award-winning Catskills weekly. Most recently, he was editor of Artenol, a radical art journal described by the New York Times as “a cross between The New Republic and Mad Magazine.” He has produced radio and video documentaries of Michael Bloomfield and served as a consultant to Sony/Legacy on their recent Bloomfield boxed set, "From His Head to His Heart to His Hands." He is also the creator and webmaster of, a Bloomfield website that serves as an appendix to "Guitar King," with videos, music downloads, a detailed performance history, bonus pages and other information. A Facebook page for "Guitar King" at offers additional photos, videos and other Bloomfield trivia on a regular basis. Dann currently resides in New York's Catskills and is currently production manager for an upstate monthly newspaper.

Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5
179 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on September 3, 2022
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on November 10, 2019
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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on February 19, 2020
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Top reviews from other countries

A. P. G. Hawkey
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitive biography - but marred by careless proofreading
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on October 25, 2020
2 people found this helpful
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant account of the life and times of Michael Bloomfield
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on February 17, 2020
3 people found this helpful
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5.0 out of 5 stars livre d'un grand guitariste
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on December 27, 2019
One person found this helpful
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