||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2010)|
Gravenites playing to the crowd, 2006 Photo: Louis Ramirez
|Also known as||Nick "The Greek"|
October 2, 1938 |
Chicago, Illinois, United States
|Genres||Rock, blues, rock and roll, folk rock|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, songwriter, producer|
|Labels||Columbia, Warner Bros., Taxim Records, Line Records, Music Box, 2Burn1 Records|
|Associated acts||Big Brother And The Holding Company, John Cipollina, The Electric Flag, Paul Butterfield Blues Band,|
Nicholas George Gravenites (//; born October 2, 1938, Chicago, Illinois), with stage names like Nick "The Greek" Gravenites and Gravy, is a blues, rock and folk singer–songwriter, and is best known for his work with Janis Joplin, Mike Bloomfield and several influential bands and names of the generation springing from the 1960s and '70s. He currently resides in Occidental, California.
According to author and pop music critic Joel Selvin, Gravenites is "the original San Francisco connection for the Chicago crowd." Gravenites is credited as a "musical handyman" helping such San Francisco bands as Quicksilver Messenger Service and Janis Joplin's first solo group, the Kosmic Blues Band. Nick wrote various songs for Joplin, including her Woodstock hit "Work Me, Lord" and the unfinished instrumental track "Buried Alive In The Blues". Gravenites also worked extensively with John Cipollina after producing the first Quicksilver Messenger Service album. He and Cipollina formed the Nick Gravenites–John Cipollina Band which toured a lot in Europe.
When the band Big Brother and the Holding Company reformed from 1969 to 1972 (without Janis Joplin), Nick was the lead singer.
Gravenites was also a songwriter for the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, which consisted of Elvin Bishop, Paul Butterfield, Sam Lay and Michael Bloomfield. In 1967 he formed The Electric Flag with Bloomfield. Gravenites is also responsible for writing the score for The Trip, produced the music for the movie Steelyard Blues. He produced the pop hit "One Toke Over the Line" for Brewer & Shipley and the album Right Place, Wrong Time for Otis Rush, for which he was nominated for a Grammy Award. Together with John Kahn, Gravenites produced the album 'Not mellowed with Age' by Southern Comfort (CBS S 64125 - 1970). Over the years, Gravenites would often use pianist Pete Sears in his band "Animal Mind", including on his 1980 Blue Star album on which Sears played keyboards and bass.
In the early '80s, Gravenites performed and recorded with a revolving group of SF Bay Area rock, blues, and soul musicians called The Usual Suspects. Their first album, "The Usual Suspects," released in 1981, included Gravenites on vocals along with Mike Bloomfield, Pete Sears, Taj Mahal, Darol Anger, Peter Rowan, Mark Naftalin, Anna Rizzo, Ron Thompson, and others.
Gravenites and Sears played together in front of 100,000 people on Earth Day 1990 at Crissy Field, San Francisco. Sears also joined him for a tour of Greece.
He still performs live in northern California. Gravenites was inducted to the Blues Hall of Fame in 2003 for his song "Born In Chicago". He recently toured with the Chicago Blues Reunion and a new Electric Flag Band.
Nick is featured in a documentary film entitled Born In Chicago where he and several other Chicago natives tell their story of growing up with blues music in Chicago. The film was shown at the SXSW festival in Austin, TX in 2013 and is appearing at various film festivals around the west coast.
- 1968 Long Time Comin' - The Electric Flag
- 1969 My Labors
- 1970 Be A Brother - Big Brother and the Holding Company
- 1971 How Hard It Is - Big Brother and the Holding Company
- 1972 Joplin In Concert
- 1973 Steelyard Blues OST
- 1980 Blue Star (Line Records)
- 1981 The Usual Suspects
- 1982 Monkey Medicine - The Nick Gravenites John Cipollina Band
- 1991 Live At The Rodon - Nick Gravenites and John Cipollina (Music Box) 
- 1996 Don't Feed The Animals
- 1999 Kill My Brain
- 2005 Buried Alive In The Blues (live)
Notes and references
- Born In Chicago IMDb
- Born In Chicago Facebook
- Official Nick Gravenites Website
- Chicago Blues Reunion Band official site
- 1994 Interview
- Nick Gravenites at the Internet Movie Database