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Michael Burks

Born in Milwaukee in 1957, blues guitarist Michael Burks began learning his instrument at an early age -- inspired by his musical family (his father played bass and often performed alongside harmonica legend Sonny Boy Williamson II, while his grandfather was a Delta-style bluesman from Camden, Arkansas). By the age of five, he was playing along with his father, and picked up a thing or two from his parent's record collection -- his father would often give his young son incentive to learn songs by offering him a dollar for each tune he could successfully figure out from beginning to end (a year later he made his performance debut in front of an audience, when he joined a cousin's band on stage). In the early '70s, Burks' father moved his family to Arkansas, and opened up the Bradley Ferry Country Club (a 300-seat juke joint), as Burks was hired as the leader of the house band, backing numerous blues and R&B greats that played the venue.

By the time the club closed in the mid-'80s, Burks briefly put his love of blues on the back burner, as he supported himself by taking a job as a mechanical technician for Lockheed Martin, although he still managed to play clubs and regional festivals. In 1997, Burks issued his very first album, From the Inside Out, producing the entire record himself, which immediately racked up impressive reviews from several esteemed blues publications (Blues Access raved the debut was "the most impressive indie in recent memory," while Living Blues named it one of "the best debut discs of the year"). In 2001 Burks issued his debut recording for the Alligator label, Make It Rain, produced in Memphis by Jim Gaines (Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughan) and Bruce Iglauer (Albert Collins, Johnny Winter). Two years later, I Smell Smoke was released, followed by Iron Man in 2008, both on Alligator. In the midst of this successful phase of his recording and performing career, Burks collapsed on May 6, 2012 at the Atlanta airport upon returning to the States after a European tour; he could not be revived after being rushed to the hospital. Michael Burks was 54 years old. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi
full bio

Comments

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rwilleman
I got to hear Michael 5 times and his searing guitar and heartfelt singing always left the crowd satisfied. He would come out blasting for a 2 1//2 hour set take a short break and do another blistering long set. He was happy to talk, take photos with his fans and is missed by all.
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Burks putting it down. Makin it rain
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Michael Burks is a real Blues Man great picking
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flyfish_chas
You tell it like it is, love you
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Clearly taken too soon along with many other blues greats. RIP Michael Burks
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vegaschevygu y
Another gifted bluesman gone to play someplace better.
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RIP Michael. I love you.
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Make it rain baby
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Very impressive. Reminds me of Taj Mahal. Just good groovy music.
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In my mood....vodk a on the rocks, loving my ol'man. .Nena n Kenny , Forever!!!!
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always on my play list!
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R. I. P big Mike you will always be missed.
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Michael Burks all of us miss you. Rest In Peace and play the Blues forever.
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we love you Michael and miss seeing your smile, May you rest in peace and make music in heaven, I am waiting to hear you again, Your friend Bill and Mary.
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liljs2001
If you think all the great bluesmen have died suggest you listen to Tab Benoit, Joe Bonamassa, Jimmie Vaughn just to name a couple....Wh a t about BB still doin it when most folks are content with a rocking chair. I'm looking forward to listening to and discovering more. I just discovered Jonny Lang this year and he's been around for two decades, I thought he was someone new. Ya'll keep playin'em and i'll keep listening and pickin along with ya.
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seems like all the greats except Claptin are gone!
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What a classy blues man RIP
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zina77
what a great sound.. so loving...
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Gone too soon . . .
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Michael was a good friend and he always had time for a visit every time I attended one of his gigs. We first met in Arkansas where we both lived and after I came to Florida , I saw Mike and the band anytime they came down here. Yes , He was The Real Thing RIP Michael
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Very few musician could make a guitar talk like he did. Saw him every time he came to St Louis. Thanks for the music Michael. Rest in peace
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true blues guitar,smoki n '
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OMG - Just decided to see if I could find an email address to see when Michael Burke would come to the West Coast again and find out that he's passed away!!! Saw him at least 4-5 times - most in Kansas City, MO's Grand Emporium and Knuckleheads - once on Ventura Blvd. in San Fernando Valley. He was never a disappointme n t ! Always a fantastic blues player. Danced to his music ALWAYS. He WILL be missed! LH
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We'll miss you. RIP
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RIP Michael. We love you always!!!
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Michael Burks is a BMF
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dman2040
This man simply kicks butt!
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Seen him at the Hayward city blues fest in ca.Got to talk to him after the show.I asked him where his gibson flying V was.He told me someone stole it.To a blues guy thats like stealing his woman.
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Hardest Working Blues man I knowl.Hope to see him in person again.The Man know how to give a show.
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hstevens613
I love Michael! I've seen him 3 times in Jacksonville , and look forward to seeing him again in April.
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glk5901
I can't wait until this coming spring 2011, we get to see Michael play twice in one week in Laughlin NV, at the River Run and the Blue Blues and BBQ at the Colorado Bell. Michael Burks always gives 200%.
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vanostnancy
Dig this man
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Really enjoying this!
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sounds great.
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I have a video interview with him at the 2000 RiverBlues Fest in North Little Rock, Ar. Very good archive footage, also him playing. You can check out more footage of him on Arknasasmusi c t i m e s . c o m
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hstevens613
Michael is great man, on stage and in person. He's had a blues life and it comes thru in his music. Go hear him if you can.
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bmacfee
This guy is smokin'hot! What tone!! Albert King on steroids!
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...it didn't print all that I wrote! Anyway, the woman named Jackie was a fantastic singer. Her songs came from deep down in the soul. She gave her entertainmen t 110%. I haven't been to Jackson, MS for a few years, but if you are ever thereabouts, stop into 940 Blues Cafe for a great experience. Can look it up on the internet, also.
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I saw him the first time at the 940 Blues Cafe in Jackson, MS. I was entranced--a n artist playing the "real" blues is hard to find and right there at a little "hole-in-the - w a l l " (and I say that lovingly as I seek out those venues) place where you walked upstairs to find the stage. Soul food & blues--how can it get any better...! What a treat--got his autograph on his CD's & talked to him without a horde of people vying for his attention. The house band (at the time) was super also--the woman
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This dude is awesome. This is my first listening to him. wow...DavidS

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