Nick Gravenites - A Guarantee of Quality

Nick Gravenites - A Guarantee of Quality
Authored By John Nicholson

Nick’s name is one which you’ll see on the back sleeve of some of the best late 60s blues and psychedelic albums and is one of those important but often unsung heroes in the history of rock n roll. 

Born in 1938 and brought up in Chicago, he brought his appreciation of the blues that his upbringing gave him to the west coast in the mid-60s forming the Electric Flag - one of the all-time great band names -  with Mike Bloomfield. As you’ll know, they were a relatively short-lived revolutionary band who combined many different influences from rock to blues, soul and jazz. A Long Time Comin’ their debut album (having recorded the soundtrack to he Peter Fonda movie The Trip) was a real game changer with Nick playing guitar and singing.  He was writing songs for the Butterfield Blues Band too

Around the same time he produced the first Quicksilver Messenger Service album, a wonderful album and an essential record for any collection. It stands as one of the pillars of the counterculture movement of 1968.

The Electric Flag recorded a couple more albums before Nick left to join a now Janis-less Big Brother And The Holding Company with whom he made two albums. In 1969 he recorded his solo record My Labors with the help of old buddies John Kahn, Mark Naftalin and Mike Bloomfield. It didn’t sell in big numbers despite being a major label release on CBS and as such is a bit of a lost west coast blues classic, especially the 13-minute Wintry Country Side and 9-minute Moon Tune.

If you can get a copy of the superb Steelyard Blues soundtrack album, he plays on that alongside a stellar line-up, including Bloomfield.

And if you remember the hit single One Toke Over The Line by Brewer And Shipley, he produced that too. In the 80s he formed a band with Quicksilver guitarist John Cippolina and made a very good album called Monkey Medicine.

Now 81, he’s still playing and still resident on the west coast in the wine country of Sonoma county. He’s one of those musicians who, if you see his name on the sleeve, either as a musician, producer or songwriter, it is an absolute guarantee of quality.

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