Michael Burks

Michael Burks, born July 30, 1957 and died May 6, 2012. He was an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist of electric and soul blues. His songs “Everybody’s got their hand out”, “I Smell Smoke”, and “Hard Come, Easy Go” are his most well-known tracks. He also worked with O. V. Wright, Johnnie Taylor, and Marquise. Frederick Burks was his father. from wikipedia Guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Michael “Iron Man” Burks was a modern-day blues hero. His hours-long, intense performances, his fearsome guitarist attack, and his strong, smoky voice are what gave his “Iron Man’ moniker. He also drove thousands of miles per year behind his van while touring. He was a fierce, blue-collar worker who inspired his fiery music and won a worldwide following. Burks’ blistering guitar sound, which can at any time become sweetly melodic, and his live charisma earned him four Blues Music Award nominations. The most recent was for Guitarist of the Year 2012. The 2004 Living Blues magazine Critics Award for Best Guitarist was awarded to Burks. GuitarOne named Make It Rain, his debut Alligator Records album, as one of the Top 200 best guitar recordings. Living Blues says that Burks “burns his own stamp on almost everything he touches…he has both the imagination and the ability to combine the best of both the old and new.” The world lost a true musical treasure when he died suddenly at 54 years old on May 6, 2012. Burks’ last album, Show Of Strength, on which he co-wrote or co-wrote five tracks, was recorded just before his death. Burks’ trademark combination of wild, yet melodic guitar work and his gritty, dynamic voice made blues an emotional autobiography. Bruce Iglauer, president of Alligator, stated that the album was not meant to be a tribute to a bluesman or friend, but rather as a living statement from Michael’s soul and heart. Even though Michael is no longer with us, the music he recorded was his testament to his strength and spirit. It will be a lasting testament to his legacy as one of the most influential bluesmen his generation. Michael Burks was born in Milwaukee, July 30, 1957. He literally came into the world with blues in him. Joe Burks was Michael’s grandfather and he played the acoustic Delta Blues guitar in Camden, Arkansas. Frederick Burks, Michael’s father was a bass player. Frederick Burks spent many years working in Milwaukee’s steel mills and refineries. He also performed in the city’s dimly lit blues clubs. There, he often backed Sonny Boy Williamson II, as well as other blues legends and local stars. Frederick began teaching Michael how to play guitar at the age of two. The young Burks was able to play a child-sized, fully functional guitar and began imitating his father’s bass runs. He was soon learning songs and scales. He was five years old when he began to study his father’s 45s. A lesson plan helped him immensely. Frederick told his child prodigy, “I’ll give a dollar if this song is learned by the time that I get home from work.” Michael learned the tune from the beginning, and was able to play it in his dad’s presence. Michael’s first gig was when he was six years old, during a trip to Arkansas with his family. He performed with his cousin’s band, and he delighted an unknowing audience. At 14 years old, he was given his first gig on the road, as a guitarist with Michael Clay and The Fabulous Souls. Frederick Burks returned his family to their southern home in the 1970s. Michael, his siblings and his father built The Bradley Ferry Country Club, a 300-seat juke-house. Michael started his own band, backing the majority of R and blues.

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