Not just the blues — but the whole music — world lost one of its greatest living musicians last week with the passing of organist and singer Mike Finnigan, whose work we admired not only with bands we’ve reviewed here over the years like the Phantom Blues Band and Mannish Boys and through his own solo career but also accompanying such household names as Taj Mahal, Etta James, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Bonnie Raitt, Joe Cocker, Dave Mason, and Jimi Hendrix, among others.
We’ve gathered just a small sampling of some of our favorite blues tunes from Finnigan for you below, but there’s plenty of more great stuff out there featuring Finnigan’s terrific playing and soulful vocals, fairly easily found through a Google search.
While Finnigan will be greatly missed, there are at least a couple of bits of good news to share. First, following in Mike’s footsteps is a quite talented son Kelly, who we first heard playing and singing on a duet with Danielle Nicole on her 2018 Cry No More album and have followed since in both his own successful career and as part of the funk/jazz/R&B band the Monophonics.
And, second: the last time we heard from Mike, when he emailed to thank us for our review of the Phantom Blues Band’s most recent album Still Cookin’ last year (something he’d also taken the time do after reviews of some of the band’s previous albums), he mentioned that he was currently working on a solo album, so it’s possible that the world hasn’t yet heard the last from Mike. That album was also referenced in this poignant Facebook post and studio video snippet from producer and engineer J.J. Blair, who had been working with Mike on the project:
R.I.P., Mr. Finnigan. And our sincerest condolences to Kelly and the rest of Mike’s family, fellow band members and the many musicians with whom Mike shared the stage or studio through the decades, and Mike’s many other friends and fans.
Death Letter – Finnigan & Wood
Mr. Charles Blues – Mannish Boys
A Good Time with the Blues – Phantom Blues Band