Elvin Bishop

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Elvin Bishop
Elvin Bishop 2010.jpg
Bishop performing at Boston's on the Beach, Delray Beach, Florida, on July 3, 2010
Background information
Birth name Elvin Richard Bishop
Born (1942-10-21) October 21, 1942 (age 74)
Glendale, California, United States
Origin Chicago, Illinois
Genres Blues, blue-eyed soul, blues rock, country rock
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter, guitarist
Instruments Vocals, guitar, slide guitar
Years active 1963–present
Labels Blind Pig Records, Alligator Records, Delta Groove Music
Website www.elvinbishopmusic.com
Notable instruments
Gibson ES-345
External video
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

Elvin Richard Bishop[1] (born October 21, 1942)[2] is an American blues and rock music singer, guitarist, band leader and songwriter. He was an original member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Elvin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015, and the Blues Hall of Fame in 2016.

Life and career[edit]

Bishop was born in Glendale, California, the son of Mylda (Kleege) and Elvin Bishop, Sr.[3] 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 Bishop met harmonica player Paul Butterfield in the neighborhood of Hyde Park and joined Butterfield's blues band, and remained with them for five years. Bishop was originally Butterfield's only guitarist, but was later joined by Mike Bloomfield, who largely took over the lead guitar role for the band's classic first two albums. After Bloomfield departed, the Butterfield Band's third album, The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw, took its name from Bishop's nickname and his renewed role as lead guitarist.[2] Bishop recorded a fourth album with Butterfield, his last with the band, in 1968.

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.[4]

In 1968 he went solo and formed the Elvin Bishop Group, also performing with 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.[5]

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.[6]

Photo of the group in 1975.

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 such as John Lee Hooker and with Zydeco artist Clifton Chenier. 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.[2]

Bishop made an impression on album-oriented rock FM radio stations with Travelin' Shoes in 1975,[7] 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.[8]

During the 1960s and 70's he recorded for the Fillmore, Epic and Capricorn labels.

Bishop performing at the Riverwalk Blues Festival, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in February 2006

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.[9] 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 held in May 2015.[10] He triumphed in three of them.[11]

In April 2015 Bishop was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame as an original member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

Personal life[edit]

Bishop's daughter Selina and ex-wife Jennifer Villarin were murdered in August 2000[12] by Selina's then-boyfriend Glenn Taylor Helzer, Helzer's brother Justin Helzer, and accomplice Dawn Godman. The murders reportedly occurred as part of a scheme to extort money from an elderly couple from Concord, California.[13][14] Both killers were sentenced to death for the murders; Justin Helzer committed suicide in San Quentin prison.

In popular culture[edit]

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." Bishop, on his 1974 album Let it Flow, had previously mentioned Charlie Daniels. 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). This song can also be heard playing in the background in the local bar scene between Sarah Jessica Parker and Luke Wilson in the movie The Family Stone.


Studio albums[edit]

  • The Elvin Bishop Group (1969)
  • Feel It! (1970)
  • Rock My Soul (1972)
  • Let It Flow (1974)
  • Juke Joint Jump (1975)
  • Struttin' My Stuff (1975)
  • Hometown Boy Makes Good! (1976)
  • 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)

Compilation albums[edit]

  • The Best of Elvin Bishop: Crabshaw Rising (1975)
  • Sure Feels Good: The Best of Elvin Bishop (1992)

Live albums[edit]

  • Raisin' Hell (1977)
  • That's My Partner! (2000)
  • King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents in Concert (2001)
  • Booty Bumpin' (2007)
  • Raisin' Hell Revue (2011)
  • Live On The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise (2011)


  1. ^ [1] Archived May 27, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ a b c Michael Erlewine. "Elvin Bishop – Biography – AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved January 6, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Bishop, Elvin | Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture". Okhistory.org. 1942-10-21. Retrieved 2015-11-03. 
  4. ^ Calvin Powers. "Ep#214 Elvin Bishop isn't playing football – Interview and music". Americana Music Show Podcast. Retrieved January 6, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Fillmore Records". Rock and Roll Road Map. Retrieved October 2, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Grateful Dead Live at Fillmore West on 1969-06-08 : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive". Archive.org. Retrieved 2013-02-18. 
  7. ^ "Elvin Bishop". Answers.com. Retrieved January 6, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Elvin Bishop Interview". Songfacts. Songfacts.com. Retrieved January 6, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Elvin Bishop". Blind Pig Records. Retrieved January 6, 2015. [permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "The Blues Foundation". Blues.org. Retrieved January 6, 2015. 
  11. ^ "2015 Blues Music Awards Winners". Americanbluesscene.com. Retrieved 2015-05-18. 
  12. ^ "Elvin Bishop's Daughter, Ex-wife Murdered". VH1 News. August 10, 2000. Archived from the original on August 28, 2012. Retrieved January 6, 2015. 
  13. ^ Gale, Ivan (August 7, 2003). "Selina Bishop Murderer Admits She's Guilty". Point Reyes Light. Archived from the original on January 5, 2010. Retrieved January 6, 2015. 
  14. ^ Claire Booth (2008). The False Prophet: Conspiracy, Extortion, and Murder in the Name of God. Berkley Books. ISBN 978-0425219744. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]