steve mann

Top blues guitar player Steve Mann was part of the Mothers somewhere in the mid-sixties.  When Steve Mann left, Elliot Ingber was hired to fill in the gap.

The official Steve Mann website:

Stefan Wirz's excellent Steve Mann website:



  terrea lea: conversations with the heart
    (??, lp, usa, matchbox records mrsa-1) - feat. steve mann
  sonny & cher: look at us
    (1965, lp, usa, atco sd 33-177)
- feat. steve mann
  cher: all i really want to do
(1965, lp, usa, imperial 12292) - feat. steve mann
1 steve mann: straight life
    (1967, lp, usa, custom fidelity records cfs-1675)
  dr. john: gris gris
    (1968, lp, usa, atlantic 588147)
- feat. steve mann
2 steve mann: live at the ash grove
    (1975, lp, usa? half blind's choice hbc-001 -
500 copies pressed)
3 steve mann: elephant songs & cow cow blues
     (1978, lp, usa, blue goose 2024)
  janis joplin: blow all my blues away
    (????, 4cd, ??, ??) - feat. steve mann


  random notes

     From: Patrick Neve
Here is his entry in the "Freak Out List:

Guitarist who played with FZ prior to the Mothers. Acoustic finger-picker who was on the L.A. club scene in the mid-60s playing old blues and ballads, but checked out early thanks to an o.d. There is one album of recordings by him, and the guitar teacher Stefan Grossman still celebrates his memory.

Besides that, maybe we should be asking Stephan Grossman.  Following is a list of credits for SOMEONE named Steve Mann, although it appears that this Steve Mann didn't check out early via on OD, but rather made a career for himself in the music business and motion picture sound effects field.

I hope we can sort this identity mess out.  Does "Straight Life" really sound like a musician that OD'd?

     From: Román (
Here's in FZ's words from "The Incredible History Of The Mothers", june 1968:

"Then Ray, the lead vocalist, quit and there were three  Mothers. We hired Jim Guercio, who now manages Chad & Jeremy and produces records for the Buckinghams. He was part of our group for a while. Also, somewhere along the line, we had hired Steve Mann, who is also one of the top blues guitarists on the West Coast. He wanted  to play in the group but he couldn't make the changes and we got rid of him. Then we hired Elliot Ingber and Ray came back in the band and there were five Mothers. We cut our first album with those five- Ray, Roy, Jim, Elliot and  myself."

The false rumor of Steve Mann's death by OD in the 1960's began with a mistake in the liner notes on a Stephan Grossman album.  I have known Steve Mann since the 1960's.  Dr. John's (Mac Rebeneck) autobiography mentions Steve and gives Steve some of the credit he richly deserves.

Although struggling with serious mental problems for as long as I have known him, Steve is one of the finest finger style guitar players of all time.  Steve has accomplished much, inspired more and received little credit.

Steve did the arrangement for Sonny and Cher's "All I Really Want to Do is Be Friends With You" or what ever the title was.  That hit made them what they are today.  Sonny didn't want Steve's name to appear on the album after he knew he had a hit.  Sonny Bono takes arranger credit on that tune on all but the first pressing of the album, where Steve Mann gets credit.

Jefferson Starship's cut "Mann's Fate" is a tribute/rip off of Steve's guitar style.  Jorma and Jack visited Steve in Camarillo State Mental hospital and taped riffs they later copied in the studio.

Here is a little anecdote that illustrates how talented and crazy Steve Mann really is:  Steve's friend Susie Plotkin (Rubin) took Steve to the Topanga Canyon Banjo and Fiddle Contest many many years ago.  Steve won the Banjo contest!  On the drive home Susie said "Steve, I've known you almost my whole life and I never knew you played the banjo."  To which Steve enigmatically replied, "Banjo?"  He didn't even know he was playing a banjo.  He knew it was some instrument in a somewhat familiar tuning and one of the strings was in a real easy place to fret around the back of the neck with his thumb, which he liked to do on guitar.

"Banjo?", he replied again.

Steve and I were in my apartment a few years ago and he wanted to illustrate the difference in style between two guitarists versions of a song we were listening to.  There was no guitar handy so he showed me on the piano.  Bent note and all.  I never heard anyone (with the possible exception of Skip James) bend notes on a piano before.  I said, "Steve, I didn't know you played piano."  He replied, I don't, I just wanted to show you that one thing, that's all."

Allen Gold

     From: Stefan Wirz (
The results of my research concerning Steve Mann can be viewed at:

    From: Janet Smith - July 2003

Hello Hello from Steve Mann via Janet Smith of Bella Roma Music in Berkeley.

You were right to ask if the featured artist on Straight Life sounded like a person who O.D. It did not happen.
Since Steve is alive and well in Berkeley, California where his friend Will Scarlett had him brought up from Los Angeles in October of 2003, I can vouch for his presence!
Steve just played the Boonville blues festival with blues buddy Jake Fussell (Will Scarlett was scheduled to join them, but got hit by a bad bug of some kind and didn’t make it to the festival. Bummer).

Anyway, Stefan Grossman has been sending Steve CD’s, videos and now DVD’s over the years while Steve was hospitalized and then living in board and care half-way houses, still performing occasionally. Now in a good place up here in Berkeley and playing up a storm,  He’s older now, but still has those incredible hands, plays blues and tons of other stuff as well, remembers everything, artists, tunes, recording sessions, he’s amazing.

He has a few guitar students in the area, plays in the Berkeley chess club tournaments,  and gets around to local concerts to catch up on old buddies. He’s older but still a ton of fun, surrounded by a musical global village. He saw Paul Geremia at Erik Schoenberg’s guitar shop in Tiburon recently. Paul played “Holly,” Steve’s signature piece, and gave a really nice acknowledgement to the author in the audience. Real heart-warming.

Bella Roma Music is gathering recorded tracks of Steve from early concerts at the Ash Grove, the Jabberwok in Berkeley, and also  some studio recordings not previously released. We hope to put together a nice CD project with booklet, lyrics, stories and photos, some time in the next year.

Since he played up at the Boonville Blues festival and had such a good time, maybe we can get him out on the road again, if the environment is friendly enough to support his needs. He will need to travel with another musician most likely. Hopefully there will also be a web site where his CD will eventually be available, sold directly by Steve who can autograph them personally.
Everybody who still believes in STEVE MANN, clap your hands!!!

I came across the United Mutations web site while I was researching authorship of some tracks on Steve’s previous records before we copyright his original material for him. (It’s about time!) (Vietnam Blues—did he write the version on Straight Life? I’ll find out)

Stay well,
Janet Smith


additional info:
- Charles Ulrich

frank zappa  / musicians timeline



 c   d   e   f   g   h   i   j   k   l   m 
 n   o   p   q   r   s   t   u   v   w   x   y   z
soundtracks various artists