Al Blake, born as Alan Blake Eliel, shot into the world January 16, 1945 on a Marine Corps base near Klamath Falls, Oregon. While later growing up during the early ‘50s in Oklahoma, the blues began tugging at his heart under the influence of his black nanny, Ruby Anderson. She used to pack him over to the other side of the tracks where her small house sat nestled near Oklahoma City. Down the street from Ruby’s house was a small general store where a hi-fi, with a large outdoor speaker, loudly played the deep southern blues while people listened and danced there on a daily basis.
Fascinated by this music, Al began collecting all the great blues recordings he could find. But finally just listening to all this musical magic was not enough and over time he began seeking out these living artists as mentors and with each personal experience of being able to watch their body language as he listened, both his understanding of them and his empathy blazed his own musical fires to higher and higher levels.
Today Al Blake still walks the paths of those early mentors with a near-sacred need to preserve their tradition and avoid selling out to the aberrations of so many modern blues-makers. His music is slowly evolving to the status of legend. Blake has said, “If the kind of blues I’m so passionate about playing was a 4-legged mammal, it would be on the top of the endangered species list. It’s that rare.”
People now consider Blake, with his encyclopedic knowledge of the blues and its players, to be one of the most serious students of this genre. His extraordinary vision and unique talents as a vocalist, harmonica player, guitar player, writer and producer have led him to create some of the deepest and purest blues of the post-modern era. Along with “Rock This House,” the seminal recording by the Hollywood Fats Band released in 1979, Blake has also recorded these collections with fellow members of the Hollywood Blue Flames: "Mr. Blake's Blues," and "Dr. Blake's Magic Soul Elixir." His most recent releases, which are available on Delta Groove Music include, "Soul Sanctuary," nominated for a W.C. Handy Award, the awesome "Road to Rio,” which went to #1 on the radio charts in the first weeks of its release, and the 2-CD vintage set, “Deep in America.”
Blake's endless list of influences include most importantly, Hollywood Fats along with the Mississippi Sheiks (Walter Vinson and Lonnie Chatmon), Tampa Red, Big Bill Broonzy, Arthur Peties, the McCoy Brothers (Charlie and Joe), Jordan Webb, Buddy Moss, Josh White, Memphis Minnie, Little Walter, Louis Myers, Freddie King, Othum Brown, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller), Jesse Thomas, Jimmy Rogers, Walter Horton, Forest City Joe, Junior Wells, George “Harmonica” Smith, John Lee Williamson, Papa Lightfoot, Lowell Fulson, Johnny Young, James Cotton, Muddy Waters, Baby Face Leroy, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Johnson, Joe Willie Wilkins, Robert Nighthawk, Little Son Jackson, Baby Boy Warren, J.B. Lenoir, Billie Holiday, Charles Brown, Maxwell Davis, the Moore Brothers (Johnny and Oscar), and many others.