Hubert Sumlin

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Hubert Sumlin
Sumlin performing at the 2003 Long Beach Blues Festival
Background information
Birth nameHubert Charles Sumlin
Born(1931-11-16)November 16, 1931
Greenwood, Mississippi, U.S.
DiedDecember 4, 2011(2011-12-04) (aged 80)
Wayne, New Jersey
Genres Chicago blues, electric blues [1]
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals
Years active1953–2011
Associated acts Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters

Hubert Charles Sumlin (November 16, 1931 – December 4, 2011) was a Chicago blues guitarist and singer, [1] best known for his "wrenched, shattering bursts of notes, sudden cliff-hanger silences and daring rhythmic suspensions" as a member of Howlin' Wolf's band. [2] He was ranked number 43 in Rolling Stone 's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". [3]



Sumlin was born in Greenwood, Mississippi, and raised in Hughes, Arkansas. [4] He got his first guitar when he was eight years old. [5] As a boy, he met Howlin' Wolf by sneaking into a performance.

Wolf relocated from Memphis to Chicago in 1953, but his longtime guitarist Willie Johnson chose not to join him. In Chicago, Wolf hired the guitarist Jody Williams, but in 1954 he invited Sumlin to move to Chicago to play second guitar in his band. Williams left the band in 1955, leaving Sumlin as the primary guitarist, a position he held almost 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 him to a classical guitar instructor at the Chicago Conservatory of Music to learn keyboards and scales. [6] Sumlin played on the album Howlin' Wolf (called the "rocking chair album", with reference to its cover illustration), which was named the third greatest guitar album of all time by Mojo magazine in 2004. [7] [8]

Sumlin performing in France, December 17, 1975, five days before recording My Guitar and Me Hubert Sumlin.jpg
Sumlin performing in France, December 17, 1975, five days before recording My Guitar and Me

Upon Wolf's death in 1976, Sumlin continued playing with several other members of Wolf's band, as the Wolf Gang, until about 1980. He also recorded under his own name, beginning with a session from a tour of Europe with Wolf in 1964. His last solo album was About Them Shoes, released in 2004 by Tone-Cool Records. He underwent lung removal surgery the same year, but he continued performing until just before his death. His final recording, just days before his death, was tracks for an album by Stephen Dale Petit, Cracking The Code (333 Records).

Sumlin was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 2008. [9] He was nominated for four Grammy Awards: in 1999 for the album Tribute to Howlin' Wolf, with Henry Gray, Calvin Jones, Sam Lay, and Colin Linden; in 2000 for Legends, with Pinetop Perkins; in 2006, for his solo project About Them Shoes (which features performances by Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Levon Helm, David Johansen and James Cotton) and in 2010 for his contribution to Kenny Wayne Shepherd's Live! in Chicago . He won multiple Blues Music Awards. He was a judge for the fifth annual Independent Music Awards, given to support the careers of independent artists. [10]

Sumlin lived in Totowa, New Jersey for 10 years before his death. [11] He died of heart failure on December 4, 2011, at the age of 80, in a hospital in Wayne, New Jersey. [12] Mick Jagger and Keith Richards paid Sumlin's funeral expenses. [13]


Albums [14]

1964American Folk Blues Amiga 850 043Germany
1969Hubert's "American" Blues! ScoutSc-4
1974Kings of Chicago Blues, Vol. 2 Disques Vogue LDM 30175France, recorded 1971
1976Groove Black & Blue 33.511France, recorded 1975
1980Gamblin' Woman L + R 42.008Germany, recorded 1980
1987Hubert Sumlin's Blues Party Black Top BT-1036US
1989Heart & Soul Blind Pig BP-3389US
1990Healing Feeling Black Top BT-1053US
1991Blues Guitar Boss JSP 239UK, recorded 1990 in London
1994Made in Argentina 1993Blues Special9501Argentina, recorded 1993 in Buenos Aires with Emilion Villanueva and the Kansas City Boys
1994I'm the Back Door ManBlues Special9506Argentina, recorded 1993 in Buenos Aires
1994My Guitar and Me Evidence Music ECD-26045Paris, recorded on Dec 22, 1975 at Barclay Studio
1996Blues Classics Bellaphon 82007Germany, recorded 1964 in East Berlin
1998I Know YouAPO2004US
1998Wake Up CallBlues Planet1116US
1999Pinetop Perkins & Hubert Sumlin: Legends Telarc 83446US
2003Doing the Don'tIntuition34252Germany; Elliott Sharp's Terraplane, with Hubert Sumlin
2004About Them ShoesTone-Cool/Artemis Records51609US, also Rykodisc RCD 17307 in the UK
2010Midnight Memphis SunNorthernBlues MusicNMB0058 JW-Jones release with special guests Hubert Sumlin and Charlie Musselwhite
2012Sky Road SongsYellowbird7724-2Germany; Elliott Sharp's Terraplane, with special guest Hubert Sumlin (recorded in 2011)


2005The Blues Guitar of Hubert SumlinHomespun TapesSUMGT21US, VHS & DVD

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  12. White, Jim. "Blues guitar great Hubert Sumlin dies". Retrieved 2011-12-04.
  13. "Rolling Stones' Jagger, Richards Pay for Hubert Sumlin's Funeral". Billboard. Retrieved 2015-10-07.
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