In my own humble opinion, there were three main icons within the blues world. There was Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson and of course, Howlin’ Wolf.
Although I have great admiration for all three of these legends, it would be Howlin’ Wolf that continues to resonate the deep barrel of a sound that I have never been able to get out of my head.
Born Chester Arthur Burnett on June 10, 1910 in White Station, Mississippi, he was named after the 21st President of the United States. As a child, he was supposedly enormous which earned him nicknames like Big Foot Chester and Bull Cow. He would finally settle on Howlin’ Wolf, a name evolving from his grandfather (John Jones) who would tell him tales of wolves running the delta that would eat little boys if they misbehaved.
Wolf grew to a full 6 feet 6 inches tall and weighed in at 300 lbs. His presence was as robust as his voice as they used to say he sounded like heavy machinery operating on a gravel road.
Sam Phillips of Sun Records discovered Wolf and quickly signed him in 1951. He soon became a local celebrity which would take him to Chicago. There, he would eventually sign with Chess Records side by side with legends Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Chuck Berry and Etta James.
When soul music would begin to take the lead in popularity and blues would fall behind, Wolf faded away like so many other blues artists. He would not resurface in the public eye until 1971.
After an automobile accident in 1970, his kidneys suffered major trauma which would finally put him to rest in 1976.
One of the greatest blues men of our time and well worth any recorded purchase.
I decided to not write much on the Wolf as hearing is believing.
Here’s taking it to the alley baby.