Blues Image is a US classic rock band hailing from Tampa, Florida in the mid-1960s. Founded by Mike Pinera, the band experienced some measure of commercial of success during the 70s music era with the now-oldies music hit “Ride Captain, Ride.” Despite a follow-up minor hit with “Gas, Lamps and Clay,” Blues Image is nevertheless considered a one-hit wonder.
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Blues Image’s formation and early years
Singer-songwriter and guitarist Mike Pinera (born on September 28, 1948, but some sources say he was born on the 29th) laid the foundations of Blues Image in his birthplace of Tampa, Florida, in 1966. The other founding members consisted of Manuel “Manny” Bertematti on vocals and drums, Joe Lala on percussions and vocals, Emilio Garcia (no, not the Emilio Gracia) on keyboards, and Malcolm Jones on bass guitar. However, Garcia quit to pursue his ambitions to become a pilot, and was soon replaced by Frank “Skip” Konte behind the keyboards.
Pinera and the rest of the Blues Image soon moved to nearby Miami. This is where they eventually established Thee Image, an groundbreaking rock concert venue where they also shared top billing with other local acts in the area. Not surprisingly, they became the house band of their own joint, where other notable rock bands such as Cream and the Grateful Dead also performed.
Like many other bands who were looking for the big time, the Blues Image moved to the West Coast. They eventually settled in Los Angeles where they signed a contract from Atco Records. Soon they released their eponymous debut album in early 1969.
Hitting it big with “Ride Captain Ride”
However, the Blues Image finally achieved their first taste of chart success by the time they released their second LP Open in 1970. One of the album’s tracks “Ride Captain Ride,” was released as a single. It was written by Pinera and Konte and featured axeman Kent Henry who did the guitar fills and guitar solo. Pinera also played a solo guitar at the end of the song.
“Ride Captain Ride” entered the Billboard Hot 100, and rose all the way until it reached its peak position at #4. Their second and final charting single “Gas, Lamps and Clay” became only a minor hit at #81. Nevertheless, the Blues Image is seen as one of those one-hit wonders.
During the mid-sessions for Open, Pinera quit Blues Image and joined Iron Buttefly, whose Vida tour had also included Blues Image as their opening act. Even a replacement by new singer Denny Correll won’t still save the band’s fortunes, and ultimately they disbanded soon after the release of their third LP Red White & Blues Image in 1970.
After Blues Image
Following his stint in Iron Butterfly, Pinera went on to play for Alice Cooper, New Cactus Band and Ramatam. He also pursued a solo career, releasing a handful of solo albums to little commercial success. He is still active performing and recording up to the present.
Other ex-Blues Image band members became journeymen on their own by playing for numerous other acts such as Three Dog Night, Steppenwolf, Manassas, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
Correll, who also became a successful Christian contemporary music artist, died in 2002. Lala passed away due to lung cancer in 2014.