Bishop performing at Boston's on the Beach, Delray Beach, Florida, on July 3, 2010
|Birth name||Elvin Richard Bishop|
October 21, 1942 |
Glendale, California, United States
|Genres||Blues, blue-eyed soul, blues rock, country rock|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, songwriter, guitarist|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, slide guitar|
|Labels||Blind Pig Records, Alligator Records, Delta Groove Music|
|Oral History, Elvin Bishop reflects on his early influences on guitar. Interview date September 6, 2014, NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Oral History Library|
Life and career
Bishop was born in Glendale, California, the son of Mylda (Kleege) and Elvin Bishop, Sr. He grew up on a farm near Elliott, Iowa. His family moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, when Bishop was ten. There he attended Will Rogers High School, winning a full scholarship to the University of Chicago as a National Merit Scholar finalist. He moved to Chicago in 1960 to attend the university, where he majored in physics. In 1963, he met harmonica player Paul Butterfield in the neighborhood of Hyde Park and joined Butterfield's blues band, and remained with them for five years. Their third album, The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw, takes its name from Bishop's nickname. During his time with the Butterfield Blues Band, Bishop met blues guitarist Louis Meyers at a show. Bishop convinced Meyers to trade his Gibson ES-345 for Bishop's Telecaster. Bishop liked the Gibson so much he never gave it back and has used it throughout his career. Bishop has nicknamed his Gibson ES-345 "Red Dog," a name he got from a roadie for the Allman Brothers Band.
In 1968 he went solo and formed the Elvin Bishop Group, also performing with Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper on their album titled The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper. The group signed with Fillmore Records, which was owned by Bill Graham, who also owned the Fillmore music venues.
Bishop sat in with the Grateful Dead on June 8, 1969 at the Fillmore West in San Francisco. He opened the second set with the lengthy blues jam, Turn on Your Lovelight without Pigpen or Jerry. He played two more songs with the Dead, The Things I Used to Do and Who's Lovin' You Tonight.
In March 1971, The Elvin Bishop Group and The Allman Brothers Band co-billed a series of concerts at the Fillmore East. Bishop joined The Allman Brothers Band onstage for a rendition of his own song, Drunken Hearted Boy. Over the years, Bishop has recorded with many other blues artists including Clifton Chenier and John Lee Hooker. In late 1975, he played guitar for a couple of tracks on Bo Diddley's The 20th Anniversary of Rock 'n' Roll album, and in 1995, he toured with B.B. King.
Bishop made an impression on album-oriented rock FM radio stations with Travelin' Shoes in 1975, but a year later, in 1976, Bishop released his most memorable single, "Fooled Around and Fell in Love", which peaked at #3 in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart (and #34 in the UK charts). The recording featured vocalist Mickey Thomas and drummer Donny Baldwin who both later joined Jefferson Starship.
Bishop feels that the limitations of his voice have helped his songwriting.
During the 1960's and 70's he recorded for the Fillmore, Epic and Capricorn labels.
Bishop appeared at the 1984 Long Beach Blues Festival. In 1988, he signed with Alligator Records and released Big Fun featuring Whit Lehnberg & The Carptones, 1991's Don't Let the Bossman Get You Down, 1995's Ace in the Hole, 1998's The Skin I'm In and That's My Partner (2000), on which he paired with an early Chicago blues teacher, Little Smokey Smothers. He later revisited Smothers in the studio, where the two recorded another album in 2009; Little Smokey Smothers & Elvin Bishop: Chicago Blues Buddies.
Bishop was inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame in 1998.
In 2005, Bishop released his first new CD in five years, Gettin' My Groove Back. In 2008, Bishop released The Blues Roles On, on September 23, 2008, switching labels to Delta Groove Music. He was supported by Tommy Castro, James Cotton, Warren Haynes, B.B. King, Derek Trucks, George Thorogood, Kim Wilson, John Németh and Angela Strehli. The album was nominated for Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album. In 2010, Bishop released Red Dog Speaks.
His first live concert DVD, That's My Thing': Elvin Bishop Live in Concert, was recorded live at the Club Fox in Redwood City, CA on December 17, 2011. It was released on the Delta Groove label in October 2012. The DVD was nominated for Best Blues DVD of 2012 by the Blues Foundation. The same organisation announced that Bishop had six nominations for the 36th Blues Music Awards set to be held in May 2015. He triumphed in three of them.
Bishop's daughter Selina, and ex-wife Jennifer Villarin, were murdered in August 2000 by Glenn Taylor Helzer, his brother Justin Helzer, and accomplice Dawn Godman. According to The Point Reyes Light, "Bishop, her mother Jenny Villarin, and a friend of Villarin, James Gamble, were murdered as part of an elaborate scheme to extort $100,000 from elderly Concord, California residents Ivan and Annette Stineman." Both killers were sentenced to death for the murders; Justin Helzer committed suicide in San Quentin prison.
In popular culture
Charlie Daniels mentions Bishop in his 1975 song "The South's Gonna Do It", with the lyric, "Elvin Bishop sittin' on a bale of hay; he ain't good lookin', but he sure can play." Molly Hatchet also references Bishop in their 1978 song "Gator Country", with the lyrics, "Elvin Bishop out struttin' his stuff with little Miss Slick Titty Boom, I'm goin' back to the Gator Country and get me some elbow room."
"Fooled Around and Fell in Love" was included in the soundtrack album for Guardians of the Galaxy titled Awesome Mix Vol. 1. The song also is heard playing during the wedding reception scene after Billy Riggins and Mindy Collette were married in the Friday Night Lights episode "Tomorrow Blues" (Season 3, Episode 13).
- The Elvin Bishop Group (1969)
- Feel It! (1970)
- Rock My Soul (1972)
- Let It Flow (1974)
- Juke Joint Jump (1975)
- Struttin' My Stuff (1975)
- The Best of Elvin Bishop: Crabshaw Rising (1975)
- Hometown Boy Makes Good! (1976)
- Fooled around and fell in love (hit single released in the spring of 1976 peaked at #3 on Billboard.)
- Hog Heaven (1978)
- Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby (1981)
- Big Fun (1988)
- Don't Let the Bossman Get You Down! (1991)
- Ace in the Hole (1995)
- The Skin I'm In (1998)
- Party Till the Cows Come Home (2004)
- Gettin' My Groove Back (2005)
- The Blues Rolls On (2008)
- Little Smokey Smothers & Elvin Bishop: Chicago Blues Buddies (2009)
- Red Dog Speaks (2010)
- Can't Even Do Wrong Right (2014)
- Raisin' Hell (1977)
- That's My Partner! (2000)
- King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents in Concert (2001)
- Booty Bumpin' (2007)
- Raisin' Hell Revue (2011)
- [dead link]
- Michael Erlewine. "Elvin Bishop – Biography – AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
- "Bishop, Elvin | Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture". Okhistory.org. 1942-10-21. Retrieved 2015-11-03.
- Calvin Powers. "Ep#214 Elvin Bishop isn't playing football – Interview and music". Americana Music Show Podcast. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
- "Fillmore Records". Rock and Roll Road Map. Retrieved October 2, 2011.
- "Grateful Dead Live at Fillmore West on 1969-06-08 : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive". Archive.org. Retrieved 2013-02-18.
- "Elvin Bishop". Answers.com. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
- "Elvin Bishop Interview". Songfacts. Songfacts.com. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
- "Elvin Bishop". Blind Pig Records. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
- "The Blues Foundation". Blues.org. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
- "2015 Blues Music Awards Winners". Americanbluesscene.com. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
- "Elvin Bishop's Daughter, Ex-wife Murdered". VH1 News. August 10, 2000. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
- Gale, Ivan (August 7, 2003). "Selina Bishop Murderer Admits She's Guilty". Point Reyes Light. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
- Claire Booth (2008). The False Prophet: Conspiracy, Extortion, and Murder in the Name of God. Berkley Books. ISBN 978-0425219744.
- Westhoven, William, "Interview: Elvin Bishop and his “Red Dog” Gibson ES-345 — Together Almost 50 Years", Guitar World, July 10, 2011
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