Living the Blues

With Hubert Sumlin

Hubert and the Wolf

Blues guitar great Hubert Sumlin reminisces about Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters, and then does some jamming in a guitar shop in this excerpt from the DVD “Hubert Sumlin – Living the Blues.”

Originally from Greenwood, Mississippi, and raised in Hughes, Arkansas Hubert Sumlin got his first guitar when he was eight years old. He first became acquainted with Howlin’ Wolf as a boy sneaking into his performances. When Wolf relocated from Memphis to Chicago in 1953, his long-time guitarist Willie Johnson chose not to join him. Upon his arrival in Chicago, Wolf first hired Chicago guitarist Jody Williams, and in 1954 Wolf invited Sumlin to relocate to Chicago to play second guitar in his Chicago-based band. Williams left the band in 1955, leaving Sumlin as the primary guitarist, a position he held continuously (except for a brief spell playing with Muddy Waters around 1956) for the remainder of Wolf’s career. According to Sumlin, Howlin’ Wolf sent Sumlin to a classical guitar instructor at the Chicago Conservatory of Music for a while to learn the keyboards and scales. Sumlin played on the album Howlin’ Wolf, also called The Rockin’ Chair Album, which was named the third greatest guitar album of all time by Mojo magazine in 2004.

Upon Wolf’s death in 1976, Sumlin continued on with several other members of Wolf’s band under the name “The Wolf Pack” until about 1980. Sumlin also recorded under his own name, beginning with a session from a tour of Europe with Wolf in 1964. His final solo effort was About Them Shoes, released in 2004 by Tone-Cool Records. He underwent lung removal surgery the same year, yet continued performing until just before his death on December 4, 2011.

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