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Meet The Third Blues Brother: Curtis Salgado

Paul Natkin
courtesy of the artist

An agent once said to me, "if you can't give your best to an empty room you don't deserve a full one."

That's something Curtis Salgado would fully approve of, since the singer and harmonica player always gives 100 percent. It's a habit he picked up from watching watched his friend singer Buddy Ace perform at a casual house party like he was playing a make or break show.

It was a turning point, as Salgado said, "I was just there playing with my band, hanging out in cut-offs and a t-shirt, and there's Buddy treating the gig the same as if he was performing at the Apollo."

Since then Salgado has given his all every time he plays.

Born in 1954 in Washington State, though he is now based in Portland, Oregon, Curtis Salgado had progressed enough at his craft by his early teens to start fronting his own band. The group, not the only band called The Nighthawks, quickly became very successful in the Northwest and launched Salgado on a career that led him to play with many top artists.

In the late 1970s, he met John Belushi while he was in Oregon to film Animal House. Belushi was inspired by Salgado and his band to create The Blues Brothers, playing a lot of Curtis' repertoire. Furthermore, the character later played by Cab Callaway in the Blues Brothers movie was named Curtis in honor of Salgado.

Curtis Salgado has been associated with a number of other well-known artists. He sang with Robert Cray from the late 1970s through 1982. Later, he joined Roomful of Blues until 1986 when he returned to Oregon to form a band that toured with The Steve Miller Band. He also was the lead singer with Santana for a while.

Salgado suffered from liver cancer starting in 2005 and Taj Mahal, Charlie Musselwhite, Steve Miller, Robert Cray and others performed benefit concerts for him. He ultimately received a liver transplant. I am very pleased to say that despite a couple of further battles with cancer Curtis Salgado is out touring and definitely worth catching live.

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