- World Of Music - Svastara - 2007
P o r t r a i t
P o r t r a i t
Mike Finnigan is
blues / soul / r&b musician from Los Angeles, California,
United States of America. When someone asks you who the best kept secret in the
music industry is, you can just say two words: Mike Finnigan. When you ask anyone
in the music industry who Mike Finnigan is, you will most definitely get more
than just a two word answer. Finnigan is known as the true master of R&B
/ Blues Hammond B3 organ next to the late great Billy Preston and one of the
Soul / Blues singers to Date!
Being one of the top session players in music history, Mike
first made a name for himself in 1968. While recording tracks for The Serfs'
LP "Early Bird Café" at The Record Plant in New York City,
someone else was also recording tracks for his newest LP titled "Electric
Jimi Hendrix heard
Hammond B3 organ work and immediately had to have him in the studio to work
on his project. Along with Mike's fellow Serfs members Freddie Smith & Larry
Faucette, they took part in a wonderful jam that appeared as two separate tracks
on Electric Ladyland entitled "Rainy Day, Dream Away" & "Still
Raining, Still Dreaming". It was this landmark album by Jimi Hendrix that
really put Mike on the map. But this was only the beginning.
By 1970, Mike Finnigan formed a group with Jerry Hahn, Mel Graves & George
Marsh called The Jerry Hahn Brotherhood. The other three were primarily jazz
musicians at the time with Mike being primarily an R&B musician. They recorded
just one LP for Columbia in 1970. With the combination of jazz, r&b, rock
music, most scholars insist that they were without a doubt the pioneers of
fusion, even before Miles Davis. They definitely had a sound that was well
ahead of its time. People also took notice of Mike's one of a kind vocal
skills. Singing his former Serfs band-mate Lane Tietgen's lyrics, Mike
delivers some of the strongest and most exciting 'blue-eyed soul' vocals
ever heard. People were definitely taking notice and realized that this guy
was someone you needed to have on your record.
During this time, in the early 70s, Mike was recruited to join ex-Traffic
member Dave Mason on tour. This led to Mike striking a record deal on Mason's
current label, Blue Thumb. In 1972, along with another Kansas music legend
Jerry Wood, Mike released the cult classic LP "Crazed Hipsters" as
Finnigan & Wood.
As a mainstay in Dave Mason's band throughout the 70s, this proved to
be a very successful time in Mike's career. After releaseing an LP on
Warner Brother produced by the legendary Jerry Wexler and recorded at muscle
shoals studio in Alabama, he hooked up with Maria Muldaur for work on her "Sweet
Harmony" LP as well. This was 1976 and things were about to really take off.
While working with Maria Muldaur, Finnigan met Stephen Stills at Summerfest
in Milwaukee. Stephen invited him to play on a few sessions for the upcoming
1977 LP by Crosby, Stills & Nash. When they began to tour again in 1980,
Mike became their permanent keyboard player. This relationship still exists
as Mike has played on over a dozen Crosby, Stills & Nash related albums
and tours with them whenever they hit the road.
Back to 1978, Mike stopped touring with Dave Mason to begin a project with
Jim Krueger & Les Dudek. Jim, or Bruiser as he was affectionately called,
was another member of Mason's band who penned his hit single "We
Just Disagree". Together, the three of them hit the road as DFK or The
Dudek Finnigan Krueger Band. Each of them released a solo LP on Columbia in
1978, with a great amount of help on each other's records. They went
on the road with an incredible, high energy show with each one as a front man.
In 1980, they released an LP together on Columbia. But that was sadly overlooked
by most of the public and Mike moved back to primarily being a session musician
throughout the next two decades.
Touring with Crosby, Stills & Nash dominated most of the 80s & 90s
for Mike. Although he still found time to record with some of the world's
greatest musicians. Just to name a few: Cher, Ringo Starr, Bobby Womack, Santana,
Dan Fogelberg, Eddie Money, Mark Cohen, John Hiatt, Bonnie Raitt, Alice Cooper,
Manhattan Transfer & Etta James.
The early 90s found Mike wanting to record a project of his own. Along with
his youngest brother Sean and former Bread member, Rob Royer, they recorded
an album's worth of country music in 1993. Mike describes it best in
his own words: "We had some killer songs and killer players and had the
luxury of doing it slowly and thoughtfully. We came within a whisker of making
a deal but when the label found out I was 47 years old, they panicked and backed
out. It was (and is) I believe, some of the best singing I've ever recorded."
By the year 2000, Mike was touring and recording with CSN, Etta James plus
Taj Mahal and The Phantom Blues Band. With or without Taj Mahal, The Phantom
Blues Band consists of Johnny Lee Schell, Joe Sublett, Larry Fulcher, Darrell
Leonard, Denny Freeman & Tony Braunagel. Each member of The Phantom Blues
Band is a highly respected musician in their own right. Put them together and
you have one of the most talented and tightest blues bands around. They still
find time in their busy individual schedules to perform together. In fact,
they have a second album OUT NOW called "Footprints".
Since 2000 Mike has Toured and Recorded with Tower of Power, Sam Moore, Dr.
John, Michael McDonald, Tracy Chapman, CSN, Janes Addiction, David Foster and
The Mohegan Sun All Stars, Keb Mo', Los Lonely Boys, The Strokeland Superband,
Eric Burdon, Mooney Sazuki, The L.A. Blues Alliance and Joe Cocker. In 2005
Mike was inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame!
So what does the future hold for Mike Finnigan? "I just want to continue
playing good music with good people and maybe
touch a few other's lives", - MF, August 2006.
The Phantom Blues Band
The Phantom Blues Band