Skip to page content

Elvin Bishop

About this Artist

Guitarist/vocalist/songwriter ELVIN BISHOP has been singing and recording for almost 40 years. Bishop's tenure as a founding member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band in the 1960s, his chart-topping hits in the 1970s, and his emergence on Alligator Records in the late 1980s place him at the forefront of electric blues guitarists.

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1942, Bishop first got hooked on the blues listening to late night R&B radio as a teenager. He began collecting blues records, and quickly realized that many of his favorite records were recorded in Chicago. In 1959, he used a National Merit Scholarship to enroll at the University of Chicago. "The first thing I did when I got there," Bishop recalls, "was make friends with the guys working in the cafeteria. Within 15 minutes I was into the blues scene."

After Bishop crossed paths a few times with fellow University of Chicago student and harmonica player Paul Butterfield, the two began sitting in at black blues clubs, often jamming with Buddy Guy and Otis Rush. The two soon recruited Michael Bloomfield as second lead guitarist, and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band - with Mark Naftalin on keyboards, Jerome Arnold on bass, and Sam Lay on drums - was formed in 1963. Bishop recorded three albums with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band before deciding to move on.

Towards the end of the 1960s, Bishop headed to San Francisco, where he became a regular at the Fillmore jam sessions, playing alongside Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, B.B. King, and many others before embarking on a solo career. He recorded first for Fillmore Records, then for Epic, and then for Capricorn, and he charted with Travelin' Shoes before scoring big with Fooled Around and Fell in Love.

After a seven-year recording hiatus, Elvin returned to his blues roots in 1988, signing with Alligator and releasing Big Fun to critical and popular acclaim. He can also be heard on the Grammy-nominated Alligator Records 20th Anniversary Tour and Hound Dog Taylor - A Tribute, and seen in the Robert Mugge documentary, Pride and Joy: The Story of Alligator Records. From the Front Row... Live!, released in 2003, is Bishop's latest album.