Originally posted April 11, 2014.
Al Kooper is one of the most underrated members of America’s Rock & Roll legacy. Al’s work with Bob Dylan and Mike Bloomfield was truly memory making.
Al Kooper doesn’t really need to listen to the latest songs by garage bands comprised of 20-year-olds. Now 70 years old and living in Boston, he’s experienced plenty of music history already.
Here are just a few of his contributions to rock ‘n’ roll: He played the signature organ riff on Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” and founded Blood, Sweat & Tears. He worked with Jimi Hendrix and the Who. He wrote songs, both bubble-gum (1965’s “This Diamond Ring,” by Gary Lewis and the Playboys) and sublime (BS&T’s “I’ll Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know,” from 1968). His French horn opened the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t always Get What You Want;” he whispered Neil Young lyrics in the background on “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, for whom he produced their first three albums. He and guitarist Mike Bloomfield were jam-band pioneers.
Yet every week since 2003, Mr. Kooper uses iTunes and Amazon to scour practically every new album, from major labels to obscure and private releases. Then he picks up to 10 tunes, writes a paragraph on each, and streams them on his blog, “New Music for Old People.”
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