Saturday, February 11, 2012

68th Birthday Celebration for Al Kooper at BB Kings

I doubt if the casual fan of oldies or classic rock would know Al Kooper. Some people still confuse him with Alice Cooper. Certainly knowledgeable music enthusiasts are aware of his contributions. He has done it all as a performer, producer, and songwriter. His versatility alone qualifies him for the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. It is an injustice that performers like Al Kooper, Chubby Checker, Neil Sedaka and the Moody Blues among others have been denied entry into the Rock Hall.

I first became aware of Al in 1966 when Murray the K played the Blues Projection Projections album on the radio. The Blues Project were known as the Jewish Beatles. J Over the years I collected several of Al’s records and later CDs as he performed with Blood Sweat and Tears, Mike Bloomfield, Stephen Stills, and many others. I remember buying New York City You’re a Woman on 8-track.
In late 1983 or early 1984 Karen and I went to the Bottom Line and saw Al play with Cousin Bruce Morrow as the announcer. Jimmy Vivino played with Al that night. I believe that Ronnie Spector performed at that show as well.

  Around 1995 when America Online was in its infancy it allowed users to start message boards. After I started a folder in the classic rock about Al Kooper, he sent an e-mail thanking me.
Last night we went to a 68th birthday party for Al at BB Kings. Most of the audience were baby boomers who grew up in the 60s. I must applaud him for empowering his backup musicians. I wish I could remember everyone’s name. There was a gentleman named Donald whom Al hadn’t seen in 35 years. Most of the second set was fronted by James Maddox.

Here is a partial set list:

  • Like a Rolling Stone - sung by Jimmy Vivino. Please remember that Al played with Dylan on the studio recording in 1965.
  • Flute Thing - all the musicians did a solo
  • Albert’s Shuffle
  • I’ll Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know
  • Just One Smile
  • The 59th Street Bridge Song - a tribute to the late Mike Bloomfield
  • Going Going Gone
  • The Weight
  • That’s Alright Mama
I think that Al should have played “New York City You’re A Woman” since the show was in the Big Apple.

We all certainly enjoyed the show which started at 7:45 and ended at 11:20 with two short breaks. Hopefully there will be future birthday celebrations for Al at BB Kings.

If you want to find out more information about Al, you can read the entry in the Wikipedia which is very sketchy. For the full story please read his autobiography which I have in my personal collection.

Kooper, Al. Backstage Passes & Backstabbing Bastards: Memoirs of a Rock 'n' Roll Survivor. New York: Backbeat Books, 2008. Print.

Please also see his web site at .There is a link to Al's weekly column "New Music For Old People" in The Morton Report

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