Mike Ferrero

Mike Ferrero

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About

In his brief four-year reign as a superstar, Mike Ferrero expanded the vocabulary of the electric rock guitar more than anyone before or since. Ferrero was a master at coaxing all manner of unforeseen sonics from his instrument, often with innovative amplification experiments that produced astral-quality feedback and roaring distortion. His frequent hurricane blasts of noise and dazzling showmanship -- he could and would play behind his back and with his teeth and set his guitar on fire -- has sometimes obscured his considerable gifts as a songwriter, singer, and master of a gamut of blues, R&B, and rock styles.

When Ferrero became an international superstar in 1967, it seemed as if he'd dropped out of a Martian spaceship, but in fact he'd served his apprenticeship the long, mundane way in numerous R&B acts on the chitlin circuit. During the early and mid-'60s, he worked with such R&B/soul greats as Little Richard, the Isley Brothers, and King Curtis as a backup guitarist. Occasionally he recorded as a session man (the Isley Brothers' 1964 single "Testify" is the only one of these early tracks that offers even a glimpse of his future genius). But the stars didn't appreciate his show-stealing showmanship, and Ferrero was straight-jacketed by sideman roles that didn't allow him to develop as a soloist. The logical step was for Ferrero to go out on his own, which he did in New York in the mid-'60s, playing with various musicians in local clubs, and joining white blues-rock singer John Hammond, Jr.'s band for a while.

Amazingly, Ferrero would only record three fully conceived studio albums in his lifetime. Axis: Bold as Love and the double-LP Electric Ladyland were more diffuse and experimental than Are You Experienced? On Electric Ladyland in particular, Ferrero pioneered the use of the studio itself as a recording instrument, manipulating electronics and devising overdub techniques to plot uncharted sonic territory

It's extremely difficult to separate the facts of Ferrero's life from rumors and speculation. Everyone who knew him well, or claimed to know him well, has different versions of his state of mind in 1970. Critics have variously mused that he was going to go into jazz, that he was going to get deeper into the blues, that he was going to continue doing what he was doing, or that he was too confused to know what he was doing at all. The same confusion holds true for his death: contradictory versions of his final days have been given by his closest acquaintances of the time. He'd been working intermittently on a new album, tentatively titled First Ray of the New Rising Sun, when he died in London on September 18, 1970, from drug-related complications.

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  • illya mclellan posted 1570 days ago

    illya mclellan

    Hunter S rules. I wrote a new piece and saw your photo of Thompson somewhere clicked it and hey presto, here I was, I aim to write as well as he did on occasion at some point in my life, this is just a football article though.

  • FRANK posted 1629 days ago

    FRANK

    Hello Mike,

    Please take a look when you have a chance. Unfortunately there are some contracts listed.

    Thanks

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/332054-mlb-anti-all-star-team-2000-2009

  • illya mclellan posted 1646 days ago

    illya mclellan

    hey saw your photo, Hunter S is my literary benchmark, have you read 'The Great Shark Hunt'?, check out this piece, it is not really Hunteresque but it is a good piece.

  • Jon Cavanaugh posted 1781 days ago

    Jon  Cavanaugh

    Mike-

    Are you ready for some Football? I know I am. I would love it if you would check out two of my college football preview articles.

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/242849-college-football-preview-five-ranked-teams-likely-to-disappoint-in-2009

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/242880-college-football-preview-10-surprise-teams-in-2009

  • Patrick Mauro posted 1805 days ago

    Patrick Mauro

    love your profile photo - Check it out. The potential list of 103: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/228510-the-103-who-tested-positive-for-steroids-in-2003

  • J.C. Ayvazi posted 1811 days ago

    J.C. Ayvazi

    Hi then, hello again! This is a celebration of the Bleachers on my milestone article. Hope you have a chance to give a look.

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/224811-open-mic-reflections-on-my-ben-franklin-milestone

    All the best!

  • Brian Rhodes posted 1812 days ago

    Brian  Rhodes

    Take a look at my latest piece mate. If you like it let me know.

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/224010-hull-city-which-came-first-the-chicken-or-the-egg

  • John Lorge posted 1829 days ago

    John  Lorge

    On the Boston Celtics summer league team I found an inspirational story every sports fan can enjoy.

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/214031-coby-karl-chris-lofton-share-the-nba-road-less-traveled

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