Herald de Paris Interview with Al Kooper

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Rock Icon Al Kooper, Super Sessions 5.1

By Al Carlos Hernandez on July 30, 2014

HOLLYWOOD (Herald de Paris) – In a career that spans fifty years, Al Kooper has managed to turn up at key points in the last five decades. He is often referred to as the “Zelig” or “Forrest Gump” of rock.

Herald De Paris had the opportunity to speak the man, the myth, the legend, Al Kooper.

He said, “I guess they called me Forrest Gump, I think because I was involved in so many situations in a small time period.”

As far as his influences are concerned, Al says, “I don’t think anyone was influenced by me in the beginning, I started in 1958. I didn’t have that much to offer until 1965.”

Kooper started out as a guitar player but quickly became known as a keyboard player, as Al explains, “Because I played the organ on ‘Like a Rolling Stone’”. He is well known for his organ playing on Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone.” He played off and on with Dylan for many years, both live and in the studio.

In 1958 Kooper began his professional career as guitarist in The Royal Teens (“Short Shorts”). He reinvented himself into a Tin Pan Alley songwriter with cuts such as “This Diamond Ring” by Gary Lewis and the Playboys. He also went on to write for artists such as Gene Pitney, Keely Smith, Carmen MacRae, Pat Boone, Freddie Cannon, Lulu, Lorraine Ellison, Donnie Hathaway and was later sampled by The Beastie Boys, Jay-Z, The Pharcyde, and Alchemist to name but a few.

In the mid-sixties Al was a member of The Blues Project and then founded Blood Sweat & Tears, remaining only for their debut album Child Is Father to the Man.

Regarding Blood Sweat & Tears he said,” I just had become a pretty good arranger by then and wanted to add a horn section to new songs that I had written that called out for them.”

For the rest of the interview, please visit the Herald de Paris website!

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