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From his days with The Royal Teens who charted with "Short Shorts" in 1958 and "Believe Me" a year later, through his period as a session player and songwriter (he partnered on "This Diamond Ring, sung by Gary Lewis and the Playboys, a song which has been aired millions of times on the radio), through his legendary session as the organ player on Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" and subsequent work with the guitar player on that recording, Mike Bloomfield, yielding Super Session (together with Stephen Stills), through his Blues Project and his founding of Blood, Sweat & Tears, his A&R work with Columbia Records, and recording Shuggie Otis, his own record "I Stand Alone", his playing on records by The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and The Who, his discovery and recording of Lynard Skynard, his arranging for and playing on George Harrison's album "Somewhere in England", his production of a Joe Ely record and touring with Dylan...
Kooper went on to become West Coast A&R director for PolyGram records, signing Richard Thompson. He scored Michael Mann's television series Crime Story, scored the Emmy award-winning miniseries The Drug Wars, and produced some of the music for the John Waters film "Cry-Baby".
He became a teacher at Boston's Berklee College of Music, and formed a band of fellow professors he called The Funky Faculty, which has toured widely and internationally. His 2005 album "Black Coffee" won the Memphis Blues Award for Comeback Album of the Year (his last solo album had been released in 1975).
In 2007 Kooper was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Walk of Fame on Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard. Later that year he received the Les Paul Award for his life's work, presented by Les Paul himself. White Chocolate, his follow-up to Black Coffee, was released in 2008.
Al Kooper continues to play, write, and as much as anything else, do what he's spent a lifetime doing assiduously and well, listen. More than anybody else perhaps, he curates and compiles a wide-ranging list of weekly recommendations for anybody interested...anybody interested in that fluxing buzz of excitement some of us get when discovering new music, or old but new-to-us music, or new-to-us qualities in music we've heard before.
Page and Recommendations by Sparrow Roberts
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