Al KooperBlues, Rock | 2010
Al Kooper was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Hollis Hills, Queens. In 1958, he began his professional career as guitarist in The Royal Teens (“Short Shorts”). He evolved into a Tin Pan Alley songwriter with cuts by Gary Lewis, Gene Pitney, Keely Smith, Carmen MacRae, Pat Boone, and others. In the mid-1960s, Kooper was a member of The Blues Project (“Flute Thing”) and then founded Blood Sweat & Tears, remaining only for their classic debut album, Child Is Father to the Man. He then slipped on his producer hat in 1968—Kooper is best known for discovering Lynyrd Skynyrd and producing the band’s first three albums—and conceived the Top 10 album Super Session featuring guitarists Mike Bloomfield and Stephen Stills. The next year, he released his own debut solo album, I Stand Alone. When producer Tom Wilson invited Kooper to watch a Bob Dylan session, Kooper wound up playing the signature organ riff on Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone.” His playing skills later graced the works of The Rolling Stones (“You Can’t Always Get What You Want”), George Harrison (“All Those Years Ago”), The Who (“The Who Sell Out”), Jimi Hendrix (“Electric Ladyland”), and many more. His solo album Black Coffee, released in 2005, was awarded the Memphis Blues Award for Comeback Album of the Year. In 2007, Kooper was awarded the Les Paul Award from the Audio Engineering Society; in 2008, he was inducted into the Musicians Hall Of Fame.