Keef Hartley
" Halfbreed"
Self published

Blueswax 8
Reader Rating Rating 8

U.K. Blues History Memory Lane , (08/13/08)

Keef Hartley (b. 1944) is a British-born musician from Preston, Lancashire, in the United Kingdom. Hartley's career started when he was a replacement for Ringo Starr as a drummer for Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, which was a very popular Liverpool band at the time. Hartley then played and recorded with The Artwoods and various configurations of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers before forming his own band, The Keef Hartley Band.

With Hartley's own band he released a total of nine albums, the most famous of all being the first album, Halfbreed, hence the title of this book. Hartley studied Native American culture and that was reflected in his album artwork and for his wardrobe on his albums, as well as in this newly published book. Amazingly Hartley's group played at the original Woodstock Festival in 1969, which was just one of the interesting facts I learned from this fine book. So the story goes that Keef's manager did not want to sign the necessary paperwork for his band performance to be part of the Woodstock movie and the multipleWoodstock recordings, which is truly a shame. Interestingly, Hartley's biggest influence was the legendary drummer Buddy Rich, which probably accounts for why Hartley was such a good fit for Mayall's Jazz Blues Fusion and Moving On, albums, which featured outstanding Jazz players like Blue Mitchell, Red Holloway, Clifford Solomon, and the magnificent Soul/Blues/Jazz guitarist Freddy Robinson.

Halfbreed is Hartley's autobiography, which sheds light on the star-studded first decade of his career and the walk down the U.K.'s historical Blues scene that fascinates the reader with stories about fabled musicians like Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Mick Taylor(who was Hartley's roommate), the Beatles, John Mayall, Graham Bond, Jimmy Page, Brian Auger, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Champion Jack Dupree, and Willie Dixon, plus brief encounters with actor Peter O'Toole and actress-turned-Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly.

My only issues with Halfbreed is that it took a while to get going, as a fair amount of pages were scribed about his youth and lesser-known bands. Additionally I was looking forward to a segment on Keef's time with the later day versions of the aforementionedJazz Blues Fusion album band which always fascinated me. But towards the end of this book Keef makes mention that there might be a follow-up book titled Bye Bye Blues, where Hartley states, "If you pester the publisher, I'd love to tell you more." Cheers to that!

Bob Putignano: