DAVID BENNETT COHEN
David is best known for his innovative keyboard playing as an original member of the '60's rock
band, Country Joe and the Fish.
David is an equally accomplished guitar player who has been involved in numerous music scenes throughout his varied career.
He began his musical education at the age of seven, studying classical piano for seven years. While studying the piano, he began to teach himself the guitar, beginning at the age of nine. When he was 14 he heard boogie-woogie piano for the first time and was hooked. Since then he has explored many different styles of blues and popular music. He was fortunate enough to have heard Otis Spann, Professor Longhair, Meade Lux Lewis and other masters of the genre perform live.
Photo courtesy of Mike Somavilla
David arrived in the Bay area in 1965 just as the music scene there was in its infancy. He came from New York where he had been an integral part of the Washington Square folk music scene in Greenwich Village
during the early 60s.
After playing off and on with several Berkeley rock bands, he hooked up with Joe McDonald, Bruce Barthol, John Francis Gunning and Barry Melton and, along with playing lead guitar, became the original organist
with Country Joe & the Fish.
David's musicianship was a driving force in the Country Joe & the Fish sound because, as record producer Sam Charters points out, he was "musically more experienced" than any of the other members.
"Dominated by David Cohen's reedy organ, "Section 43" is all fog, space and possibility - a perfect representation of the Bay Area at that time". That's what Jon Savage says in his 1997 book, 'I Want To Take You Higher'. Sam Charters calls Section 43 "one of the Fish's greatest musical achievements." Joel Selvin calls the record, "the definitive recorded example of genuine acid rock" and let's not forget that Bruce Barthol (bassist with "The Former Members") was the bassist on that album!
Over the years he has played and/or recorded with The Blues Project, Mick Taylor, The Luther Tucker Blues Band, Elvin Bishop, Hubert Sumlin, Melvin Van Peebles, Happy and Artie Traum, Arlen Roth, Eric Anderson, David Blue, Tim Hardin, Norton Buffalo, Jerry Miller, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Winter, Buddy Miles, John Cippolina, Huey Lewis, Michael Bloomfield, Bob Weir, John Kahn, Johnnie Johnson, Jimmy Vivino, Jay Owens, Debbie Davies, Byther Smith, Bobby Kyle, Rocky Lawrence, Johnny B. Gayden, Sandra Feva and many others. And now, of course, David's latest band is "The Former Members".
As a solo performer, David has shared the bill with Country Joe McDonald, Kenny Rankin, Bonnie Raitt, Richard Thompson, Jerry Garcia, Leo Kottke, Rufus Thomas, Meatloaf, Booker T, The Roches, Kingfish, J. Giles, Magic Dick and many others.
He played on Broadway and toured in the hit show "RENT", doubling on keyboards and guitars, and his distinctive piano style is featured on the Bill Perry Blues Band CD, 'Crazy Kind of Life', (Blind Pig Records), along with his instrumental composition, 'Morning Spiritual'.
His latest CD's are "In the Pocket" and "Cookin' With Cohen" (shortlisted for a Grammy nomination) and his 1984 release "David Bennett Cohen At The Piano" on Rag Baby Records has been re-released.
David has recorded two audio teaching tape series ('Blues/ Rock Piano' and 'Ragtime Piano'), a three videotape series ('Blues Piano') and his latest video, 'Blues and Rock Techniques for Hammond Organ', all on Homespun Tapes. In addition, he has two guitar instruction albums on Kicking Mule Records, 'How To Play Folk Guitar', and 'Rock and Roll Guitar'. His books 'David Bennett Cohen Teaches Blues Piano Volumes I and II', with accompanying CD's are also on Homespun. The book/CD package "David Bennett Cohen Teaches Rock and Roll Piano" was released in 2003.
In spite of his busy schedule David still finds time for private piano and guitar students. His professional approach, attitude and musicianship enhance any project that he is associated with.
David's many recordings and collaborations are listed in the Discography section - click here
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David Bennett Cohen