After being on the ballot four separate times, the groundbreaking Paul Butterfield Blues Band finally made it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at Saturday's (April 18) 30th annual induction ceremony held this year in Cleveland.
The group, which featured guitarists Michael Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop, was celebrated for both its musical mastery as well as for being one of the first racially integrated bands to win over a rock audience.
"When I saw the cover of this first album, there was a multi-racial band with a bunch of guys I thought, 'Man, you better not mess with them," the J. Geils Band's Peter Wolf said during his induction speech. "I couldn't believe the explosive power they had. They generated something that was beyond the beyond. They had a sound that was loud, so loud you didn't want to get away from it. You wanted to get closer...They weren't imitators. You could hear the south side Chicago sound inside them."
The late Butterfield's two sons and the late Bloomfield's daughter were on hand to accept the trophies, along with Bishop -- sporting his trademark denim overalls, drummer Sam Lay and keyboardist Mark Naftalin. The trio performed the group's "Got My Mojo Workin'," while Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, the E Street Band) and country star Zac Brown preceded the induction with the group`s "Born in Chicago," featuring blues musician Jason Ricci on harmonica.
Alice Cooper, a Rock Hall inductee in 2011, was among those singing the Butterfield Band's praises and lobbying for the group to get in; he told us that, "That was the one I really cared about....That was a band I just said, 'Man, does anybody belong in the Hall of Fame more than this?' And all the musicians sit back and go, 'Yeah, absolutely, Butterfield! That was the one band I never though would get in."
Ringo Starr, Lou Reed, Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Green Day and the "5" Royales were also honored on Saturday. HBO will broadcast an edited version of the five-and-a-half-hour ceremony on May 30.
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.