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Nicholas George Gravenites (born October 2, 1938 in Chicago, Illinois), known as Nick "The Greek" Gravenites and Gravy, is a blues, rock and folk singer–songwriter and is best known for his work with Janis Joplin and several other greats of the 1960s and 1970s. Nick currently resides in Sebastopol, California.Read More...
According to author and pop music critic Joel Selvin, Nick Gravenites is "the original San Francisco connection for the Chicago crowd." Gravenites is credited as a "musical handyman" helping such San Francisco bands as Quicksilver Messenger Service and Janis Joplin's first solo group. Nick wrote Janis's song "Buried Alive In The Blues", but she died the night before her scheduled time in the studio and the song appeared as an instrumental on her album. He was also a songwriter for the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, which consisted of Elvin Bishop, Paul Butterfield, and Michael Bloomfield, then formed The Electric Flag with Butterfield guitarist Mike Bloomfield. Nick is also responsible for writing the score for The Trip.
Nick still performs live in northern California; his regular shows include a bar in Occidental and several venues in downtown San Francisco. Nick also worked extensively with John Cipollina after producing the first Quicksilver Messenger Service album. Nick and John formed the Nick Gravenites–John Cipollina Band which toured a lot in Europe. Nick was inducted to the Blues Hall Of Fame in 2003 for his song "Born In Chicago".
Nick grew up on the south side of Chicago hanging out in the mid-50's with a coterie of misfit white kids - Elvin Bishop,biopic1 Paul Butterfield, Michael Bloomfield - who went on to form that protean powerhouse of watershed white blues, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Learning their lessons first-hand from the south side greats - Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Otis Rush - Gravenites & Co. burst open the seams of the scene with a feverish intensity and undeniable authenticity, redefining the blues with as much impact as the introduction of electric instrumentation had 15 years earlier. From the late 50's through the mid 60's, Gravenites gravitated between Chicago and San Francisco, establishing himself in the Bay Area in 1965.
In addition to authoring the classic "Born In Chicago" and the groundbreaking "East West" for Butterfield, Gravenites scribed hits for Janis Joplin and has his songs recorded by Big Brother and the Holding Company, Michael Bloomfield, the Electric Flag of which Gravenites was a founding member, Pure Prairie League, Tracy Nelson, Roy Buchanan, Jimmy Witherspoon as well as blues giants Howlin' Wolf, Otis Rush, and James Cotton. He has a couple of solo albums and has scored and played on the soundtracks for "The Trip", "Medium Cool", and "Steelyard Blues". He has appeared on some 40 albums as singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer.
Other Bands: He formed the short lived Blue Gravy and joined Big Brother And The Holding Company early in 1969 staying until early 1972. He was involved with the Taj Mahal-Mike Bloomfield live album, and again in 1973 with Steelyard Blues. He also formed the Nick Gravenites Blues Band in 1978 and that year he joined Huey Lewis' Monday Nite Live sessions which disbanded by the end of that year.
Nick also worked a lot with John Cipollina, a connection that started with Nick producing the first Quicksilver Messenger album. Later they built the Nick Gravenites-John Cipollina Band which toured a lot in Europe and their record label Line being based in Germany. One of the band's drummers was former Clover drummer Marcus David who later recorded his solo album Greatest Hits on Line Records in 1980. Nick Gravenites himself recorded Bluestar which was also released on Line in 1980 with John Cipollina on guitar, Huey Lewis on harp who, at that time, was an in-demand session player who, after Clover's demise, played harp also on albums by Phil Lynott, Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds and City Boy.