Steven Bookvich known as Muruga Booker (born December 27, 1942) is an American drummer, composer, inventor, artist, recording artist, and an autonomous Orthodox priest. Muruga Booker is a percussionist with an incredible list of credits, from jazz to rock, world beat to techno-rave
Booker was born in Detroit, Michigan, on December 27, 1942, at Highland Park General Hospital, and is of Serbian descent. His father, Melvin Bookvich, was a shoemaker who played accordion. He is married to Patti, aka Shakti, and they have a daughter named Rani, and a son named Aaron from a previous marriage.He previously lived in Detroit, New York, NY and Oakland, California. Since 1985, Booker and his family have lived in Ann Arbor,k where he has his own recording studio called Sage Ct. Studio, as well as an 'Orthodox Church where he is the priest, Saint Gregory Palamas Celtic Orthodox Church.
Booker first played the accordion before taking up drums as a preteen. He studied drums under Misha Vishkov, a Russian music teacher.
He first professionally played drums in 1961 with "The Low Rocks" in Detroit as Steve Booker. "The Birth of the Detroit Sound: 1940-1964" by Marilyn Bond & S. R. Boland, Arcadia Publishing (2002) pg. 93. Under that name he also achieved local recognition playing in 1962 with the "Thunder Rocks" Gold Thunder: A Legendary Adventures of a Motown Bassman by Tony Newton and Ted Lucas (2012)and both bands released singles on the Sabre Records label, which they also created.
Booker became known for his long, driving drum solos. He shared the bill at venues like Detroit's Eastown Theatre and Grande Ballroom with Ted Nugent, Traffic, Jack Bruce, Mose Allison, Sam Lay, Jimmy Reed and many others.Muruga Booker at theconcertdatabase.com He often performed as Steve Booker's New Volume.
In 1964 he began playing with folk-rock singers Jim & Jean, and also performed on their recordings Changes and People World,Jim & Jean Discography at Discogs which also featured Harvey Brooks on guitar and bass.
In 1964 and 1965, Booker played and recorded with the psychedelic folk rock band The Spike Drivers, The Spike-Drivers - Folkrocking Psychedelia from the Motor City in The Record Fiend, September 2, 2010 and they recorded several songs including Can't Stand The Pain The Spike Drivers - Can't Stand The Pain (1965) on youtube and I'm So Glad.The Spike Drivers - I'm So Glad (1965) on youtube In 1965 he was asked by Richard Williams Richard Williams of 1956 group called "The Casuals" at garyedwardsmusic.blogspot.comto become a member of The Casuals to back up Brenda Lee, and he toured with them for several months all over the USA.
Starting in 1966 he began playing with John Lee Hooker at many Detroit area venues, and they were often booked as Hooker and Booker. In 1968 he joined the Paul Winter Consort, and performed on their album Something In The Wind. Paul Winter and The Winter Consort – Something In The Wind at Discogs
In 1969, at the first Woodstock Festival, he played drums for Tim Hardin, along with cellist Richard Bock, from The Winter Consort.Richard Bock Woodstock Cellist at Woodstock Whisperer blog, November 3, 2017 Weather Report The Annotated Discography: Sweet Nighter by Curt Bianchi At Woodstock he met Swami Satchidananda who invited him to visit him at the Integral Yoga Institute Woodstock Revisited: 50 Far Out, Groovy, Peace-Loving, Flashback-Inducing Stories From Those Who Were There by Susan Reynolds, Adams Media (2009) Pg. 110 in New York, where he gave him the name Muruga. Woodstock: Interview with Muruga Booker by William C. Leikam, originally printed in Relix (US) and Zabriski Point (Russia) While at the Integral Yoga Institute he became friends with pop artist Peter Max, who also did the artwork for Muruga's 1970 release of Rama Rama/Endless Path, Rama Rama/Endless Path at Bandcamp which was also the first recording that Don Was engineered.
In January 1970, Booker played several songs with John Lee Hooker on a TV show called Detroit Tube Works, which was syndicated and aired on TV stations all over the United States. DETROIT TUBEWORKS Great Pre-Cable Music TV by Sam Leighty (June 2014) on Perfect Sound Forever at furious.com
In the early 1970s Booker often played with Ted Nugent, who referred to him in an interview as "dangerous and incredible" on drums.Ted Nugent talks about Steve "Muruga" Booker on drums - 1971 on Detroit Tube Works TV show A song that was the result of a jam session with Nugent ended up becoming "Stranglehold", which was based around a drum beat and song of Booker's.MURUGA profile on youtube
In November 1971, he recorded with Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan on sessions at The Record Plant, New York, NY, and the resulting recordings were included on several releases by Ginsberg, including First Blues Allen Ginsberg - First Blues and Ginsberg's box-set release Holy Soul Jelly Roll: Poems & Songs. Allen Ginsberg - Holy Soul Jelly Roll: Poems & Songs at allmusic The engineer on the sessions with Ginsberg and Dylan was record producer Jack Douglas.
In 1971, Muruga met Darius Brubeck, the son of jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, and along with clarinetist Perry Robinson they formed the electronic experimental trio MBR. The Darius Brubeck Ensemble - Intro By Dave Brubeck In 1972, they recorded the album Chaplin's Back which featured reinterpreted music compositions by actor Charlie Chaplin Darius Brubeck – Chaplin's Back at Discogs
In 1973, Muruga joined the Darius Brubeck Ensemble, along with Perry Robinson. At that time, Dave Brubeck decided that he wanted his sons Darius and Chris Brubeck and their bands to tour with him, to open for his band the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Muruga toured as part of the Darius Brubeck Ensemble, along with Perry Robinson, and opened up for, and played alongside the quartet, which gave him the opportunity to play with Dave Brubeck, as well as alongside Gerry Mulligan and Paul Desmond and Alan Dawson. Muruga performed and toured with the band at many high-profile concerts, including an appearance at Carnegie Hall in New York.
In 1973 and 1974, he recorded with Weather Report Global Jazz Trio: New Release Jazz News 2006 (Nestor Publishers) on their albums Sweetnighter and Mysterious Traveller.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s Booker lived in New York City and played with David Peel on several projects including "King of Punk" and "Death to Disco". While recording "Junk Rock" with David Peel, Muruga recorded for the first time with the Nada Drum that he invented (it was referred to as an "Electric Talking Drum" on this song).
In 1980 he moved back to Detroit, where he connected with funk legend George Clinton and became an official member of the P-Funk All-Stars. His band at that time, Muruga and the Soda Jerks, with Sly Stone on bass guitar, was recorded and produced by George Clinton Maruga & The Soda Jerks - Superstar Madness on Testing-Positive-4-The-Funk compilation and he appeared on many Parliament-Funkadelic and P-Funk All-Stars recordings, and related projects.Muruga Booker P-Funk Family on George Clinton official website Booker continues to work with George Clinton and play with the P-Funk All Stars as his schedule allows.
In mid-1985 he moved to Oakland, California, and formed the band Muruga UFM, which included Big Brother and the Holding Company guitarist James Gurley. Muruga UFM - Funky Jacket at Bandcamp
In 1989, he recorded with Prem Das on the drum meditation album Journey of the Drums, Journey of the Drums on Discogsas well as two other trance drumming recordings, that he released on his Musart record label.
In 1990 he met Merl Saunders and they formed Merl Saunders and the Rainforest Band and recorded with Jerry Garcia, on the album Blues From the Rainforest. Merl Saunders – Blues From The Rainforest: A Musical Suite at Discogs They toured to support the album with Steve Kimock on guitar, and John Popper on harmonica, and recorded Fiesta Amazonica, Merl Saunders – Fiesta Amazonica at Discogs a 2 CD live recording called Save the Planet So We'll Have Someplace to Boogie Merl Saunders and The Rainforest Band - Save the Planet So We'll Have Someplace to Boogie at allmusic as well as a live DVD of Blues From The Rainforest. Merl Saunders - Blues From The Rainforest DVD at discogs
In 2000, after moving back to Michigan a couple years prior, Booker formed the band Muruga and The Global Village Ceremonial Band,Musician and Greek Orthodox Priest Steve Bookvich of Ann Arbor by Jo C. Mathis: interview in Ann Arbor News, September 15, 2008 and released the CD One Global Village, featuring P-Funk vocalist Belita Woods and Perry Robinson. They played at several festivals including the Starwood Festival, Rhythm Fest 1 with Mickey Hart, and Rhythm Fest 2 with Airto Moreira. In 2002 his recording company Musart and the Association for Consciousness Exploration co-hosted the SpiritDrum Festival, a tribute to Babatunde Olatunji, also featuring Sikiru Adepoju, Badal Roy, Jeff Rosenbaum, Halim El-Dabh, Perry Robinson, and Jim Donovan of Rusted Root.
In 2003 he began playing and recording with jazz saxophonist Mark Hershberger, and Richard Smith (bass guitar) as the Global Jazz Trio. Williams, H. Allen. Review of the CD Live in Detroit, Global Jazz Trio at Bakers Keyboard Lounge by H. Allen Williams in Jazz Review, Mar. 11, 2006 and as a five piece group called The Global Jazz Project. Global Jazz Project songs on Allmusic Muruga no longer performs with The Global Jazz Trio or Global Jazz Project, but continues to record with Hershberger as a duo, or on various projects. Muruga Booker and Musart Media on Bandcamp
In 2004, Muruga formed the band Free Funk, featuring P-Funk All-Star rapper Louie "Babblin'" Kabbabie Louie Kabbabie discography at Discogs and George Clinton's son Tracey Lewis Trey Lewd Discography at Discogs (aka Trey Lewd).
In October, 2009, Muruga recorded what would become James Gurley's final recording projects, at his studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan. One of the recordings that resulted was called Big Huge, and was released on limited-edition vinyl by Qbico, James Gurley & Muruga Booker - It's Big Huge at Disocgs in addition to another album with his band Free Funk, called Selfadelic Funk. Free Funk - Selfadelic Funk on BandcampBig Huge was remixed and remastered in 2016, with more songs included, and released as a digital download on Bandcamp. James Gurley & Muruga Booker - Big Huge at Bandcamp
In 2010, Muruga Booker and The Rain Forest Band (featuring Badal Roy on percussion, Perry Robinson on clarinet) played at the Detroit Jazz Festival. Detroit International Jazz Festival: Navigating a stellar lineup on mlive.com
In 2013 he formed Muruga & the Cosmic Hoedown Band, with Muruga (drums, guitar, and vocals), Shakti Booker (vocals & drums), Parliament Funkadelic member Tony Thomas Tony Thomas discography on Discogs (guitar), Patrick Sarniak (guitar), Benjamin Piner (bass), Douglas Weaver (bass), and Ralph Koziarski (woodwinds, brass & percussion). Muruga & the Cosmic Hoedown Band in SonicBids.com
In 2012 & 2014 Muruga won a Detroit Music Award for "Outstanding World Music Instrumentalist". In 2014 he won the Detroit Music Award for "Outstanding World Music Recording" for "Joty Drums" by Muruga Booker, Pandit Samar Saha, & John Churchville.Detroit Music Awards website: 2012 Winners Booker has been the recipient of a total of six Detroit Music Awards.
In 2017, in honor of John Lee Hooker's 100th birthday anniversary celebration, he formed Booker Blues All-Stars and recorded a CD with the band called Booker Plays Hooker Booker Blues All-Stars - Booker Plays Hooker on Bandcamp The band consists of Muruga (drums), Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Billy Davis (guitar & vocals), Tony "Strat" (guitar), John Sauter John Sauter discography on Discogs (bass guitar) (who also played with Hooker & Booker), Misty Love Misty Love on Discogs (former backup singer for Kid Rock), and special guest Peter Madcat Ruth|Peter "Madcat" Ruth.
Muruga Booker has played on many different recordings by a wide variety of artists He has also self-released many recordings on his own Musart record label through Bandcamp.