Howlin Wolf at 101.

With Hubert Sumlin and a cool guitar.
Early deodorant ad.
Well worth the $1.00.
He just swallowed his harmonica.
At Sylvio’s, ’64.
Early shot, another cool guitar.
At home in Chicago, a White Sox fan?
Back at Sylvios.
Yet another cool guitar.

Upsetting the folks at a Folk Festival.

¬†European TV, ’66.

Howlin’ Wolf (born Chester Arthur Burnett outside of West Point, Mississippi, June 10, 1910, died January 10, 1976) would have been 101 today, had he lived. If they dug him up and stuck his bones onstage he’d still be better than 99.9% of what passes for blues or rock’n’roll these days. I’ve already blogged on him before (here and here), so I have little to add, except he remains my very favorite singer, and when ever I hear so and so (name your most overrated singer here) is a great “soul” singer, I want to stick a Howlin’ Wolf 78 in their ear. If you are not familiar with Wolf’s music, start with his early Chess and RPM sides, then the un-issued Sun Sessions, forget the psychedelic “birdshit” album, the London Sessions and SuperBlues jams unless you are a completist. For further reading I suggest James Segrest and Mark Hoffman’s Moanin’ At Midnight: The Life and Times Of Howlin’ Wolf (Pantheon Books, 2004). Happy Birthday Wolf, where ever you are.

Howlin’ Wolf

On Shindig, with the Rolling Stones. The Shindogs (with James Burton) backing Wolf and Hubert Sumlin. 1965.

European TV appearence.
Newport Jazz Festival. Nobody booed Wolf for going electric.

Check from Sam Phillips to Chester Burnett (Howlin’ Wolf), in time for Christmas, ’51.

My favorite stamp.
Onstage at Silvios, Chicago, early 60’s.
June 10 was Howlin’ Wolf’s centennial. That means 1ooth birthday for you morons out there. So I’m ten days late and two dollars short, as usual. All of Wolf’s great Chess and RPM sides (and the un-issued recordings) are in print somewhere in the world today, so there’s no excuse not to own them. If you want to know more about Chester Arthur Burnette, I highly recommend James Segrest and Mark Hoffman’s Moanin’ At Midnight: The Life and Times Of Howlin’ Wolf (Pantheon,2004), as well as Don McGlynn’s

2003 documentary The Howlin’ Wolf Story, which is available on DVD and also turns up on cable TV quite a bit these days. I thought I’d post the above clips and pix as my own personal tribute since Howlin’ Wolf was the guy that really turned me on to great music. It was the top clip, when the he appeared on Shindig with my then heroes– the Rolling Stones sitting worshippfully at his feet that really turned my six year old head inside out. It wasn’t until six years later that I found a copy of his Evil (Chess, which was a 70’s re-issue of his first album Moanin’ At Midnight) in a .99 cent bin, a record that would really change the way I heard music for ever.
By the time I saw Wolf live (1974) he was sick and old, he couldn’t get out of his chair and his set was only four songs (about 15 minutes) long, but I’m still glad I went, just to hear him make that sound. It seemed to come from someplace deep inside of him and rumbled out of him like the beginning of an earthquake. It was more than a mere voice, it was a wonder of nature.
For you beginers I suggest you pick up the CD of his first two Chess albums (released on one CD)- Moanin’ At Midnight/Howlin’ Wolf (aka The Rocking Chair album), then get the two volumes of Bear Family Memphis recordings done at Sun Studio– Memphis Days Vol. 1 and 2, and then pretty much everything else he did except the London Sessions, This Is Howlin’ Wolf’s New Album…He Doesn’t Like It (aka the “Birdshit album” as Wolf put it) and the stupid “super blues jam” LP’s is worth owning.

Howlin’ Wolf unseen footage….

I noticed there’s some new Howlin’ Wolf clips up on Youtube that I don’t think are in the documentary, these things have a tendency to disappear fast (like the Bo Diddley and Rosco Gordon clips I posted a couple of weeks ago, both have been pulled, btw I forgot to thank Dave The Spazz for the tip on the Bo clip) so don’t wait. Here they are:

I never saw this one before, from U.K. TV circa mid-1960’s, the Howlin’ Wolf w/Hubert Sumlin and Willie Dixon.

from the same show

another one I’ve never seen, maybe the only footage of the Wolf in color, this was shot near the end of his life, notice the bandage on his right arm, probably from his kidney dialysis….

Also, Wolf fans should check out the Mojo Repair Shop, pronto. And while I’m at it, there’s some great Stones rehearsal footage up on Never Get Out Of The Boat.

Why Blues Singers Should Be Named After Presidents….

I don’t have anything to say today, except blues singers were better when they named ’em after presidents— as seen above, we have Muddy Waters (McKinley Morganfield)
and Howlin’ Wolf (Chester Arthur Burnett). If you plan on raising a blues singer, here’s a good formula for naming the little bugger— part one: a physical deformity or
handicap, part two: something to eat, part three: the name of a president. For example, Bowlegged Potato Carter. Or how about Ugly Pumpkin Adams. Anyway, the above clips are from the footage D.A. Pennebaker shot at the Newport Jazz Festival, I think the Muddy clip was ’62 and the Wolf was shot in ’66, but don’t quote me on that, I’m too lazy to look ’em up. Just enjoy ’em…..