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P o r t r a i t

Mike Finnigan
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 who's 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 finest 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 Ladyland". Jimi Hendrix heard Finnigan's 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 & psychedelic 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

Davor Matosevic - videos
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Rock Otocec 2010
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Web portal Pljuga
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Andjelko Jurkas (HR) - Bez rocka trajanja (Knjiga + CD)
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Gary Talley (USA) - Guitar Playing for Songwriters
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