AL KOOPER 2019 fine art print / edition of 20 / $165.00
Invited at the age of 21 to sit quietly and watch his friend Tom Wilson produce a 1965 Bob Dylan session, guitarist Al Kooper walked into the studio during a break, sat at the Hammond organ, and without any prior rehearsal created a part that made history and launched his career. Dylan didn't know the Brooklyn-born/Queens-raised kid, but when he heard what Kooper added to "Like a Rolling Stone," he invited him back to play on the rest of Highway 61 Revisited. Shortly after, Kooper was recruited to play keyboards in the Blues Project (also produced by Wilson), with whom he recorded two albums. When he suggested adding a horn section, his bandmates scoffed. So Kooper quit the Project, hired a bunch of jazz players, and formed Blood, Sweat & Tears. After helming one sensational album, in 1968 Kooper was fired from his own band and replaced with ... never mind.

That same year, he teamed with guitarists Mike Bloomfield and Stephen Stills for the groundbreaking (and Billboard Top 10) LP Super Session, after which he signed and produced the first album by 15-year-old blues guitar prodigy Shuggie Otis.

Around this time, on a visit to London, he heard a new album by a British pop group who had recently disbanded due to lack of commercial success. He brought the album back to the US and convinced Columbia to issue the Zombies' now-legendary Odessey and Oracle, which included the hit single "Time of the Season."

In the 1970s, Kooper sought to produce an American band who could capture the style of the British band Free, whose sound he admired. He found such a band in Alabama, got them signed to a major label, and produced the first three albums by Lynyrd Skynyrd. He later discovered and produced the first album by L.A. art-rockers The Tubes, as well as scoring the TV series Crime Story and the film The Landlord. All the while, Kooper was turning out a series of solo albums which reflected a restless musical curiosity, pop craftsmanship, and a penchant for genre-hopping experimentation.

Little-known fact: in the mid-1970s Kooper posed nude for Playboy, appearing in a hot tub with two voluptuous models—but he chose not to be identified in the photo caption.


Kooper's autobiography, Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards, is one of the best-written—and funniest—rock memoirs ever published. It chronicles his storied career, which included co-writing "This Diamond Ring," a #1 hit for Gary Lewis and the Playboys in 1965. Kooper hated the recording; he wrote it as a soul tune and after hearing the Gary Lewis version, wanted to disown it. Kooper guested on recording sessions with the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, Cream, the Who, and three of the Beatles. He also continued to tour and record with Dylan, appearing on Blonde on Blonde, Self Portrait, New Morning, and Dylan. But despite persistent rumors, Kooper did not play on the legendary Batman and Robin album with Sun Ra. He had a prior commitment and Sun Ra was hired (by Tom Wilson, yet again) as his keyboard replacement.

The above portrait has a personal significance for Drew Friedman, who has had a warm friendship with Kooper since the 1980s (during which this portrait is set). Drew and his wife Kathy saw Kooper perform often in New York, especially at the Bottom Line, where Kooper is here rendered relaxing backstage. The portrait was produced by Friedman in honor of Kooper's 75th birthday, and to mark the 10th anniversary of Drew's line of limited edition fine art prints.
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Only twenty (20) prints of AL KOOPER were produced for this edition. Each print is signed in the lower right, hand-titled in the center, and numbered in the lower left (all beneath the image). We have sold print numbers 1/20 thru 7/20, and are now offering print numbers 8/20 thru 10/20, unframed, for $165.00 each (plus s/h). Prices will increase as the edition sells down.

The image area is approximately 17-1/2" high x 13-1/4" wide on an untrimmed 22" x 17" sheet. Paper, ink, and production specifications, as well as shipping details, are available on our PRINT SPECS page.