Howlin’ Wolf and Hubert Sumlin: A Deep and Abiding Love By Marty Weil @ChiBluesHistory
In Howlin’ Wolf’s funeral program Hubert Sumlin, his long-time guitarist and musical alter ego, was listed as Wolf’s son. The two men weren’t related, but they were as much father and son as Wolf and his biological son, Floyd.
Hubert Sumlin literally fell into his job with Wolf, tumbling through a juke joint window–landing behind Wolf’s drummer, mid-song. Despite his awkward entry, Wolf invited Sumlin to stay on stage with the band that night and the pair were together for the next three decades (with one notable six-month hiatus when Sumlin played for the Muddy Waters Band).
Wolf and Sumlin had many memorable adventures together. In 1969, for instance, Wolf suffered a heart attack on the way to a gig at the University of Chicago. Hubert, who was driving, pulled the car to the side of the road. He found a 2×4 on the pavement, and in an unproven CPR maneuver, pounded Wolf on the back with it. It worked! Wolf made it to the hospital and lived.
The paternal feelings Howlin’ Wolf had for Sumlin ran deep. According to Howlin’ Wolf’s biographers, Wolf worried constantly about Hubert’s well being. Many nights, near the end of Wolf’s life, he’d come home and ask his wife, “What’s going to happen to Hubert when I’m gone?” Wolf needn’t have worried. Hubert went on to have a successful and acclaimed solo career.
Marty Weil is the editor of @ChiBluesHistory on Twitter. Marty is a blues researcher, educator, and social media influencer.
Mayall is founder of John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, the group which gained notoriety in the 1960s and included many esteemed blues and blues rock players. With a career spanning over half of a century, you’ll want to dig into these stories and insights as Mayall talks with Host Dave Specter.
If you missed BluesStream: Chicago/Kalamazoo Blues Party this past Sunday, this 6-hour blues concert full of music, culture and history is now here for you to watch anytime! Performances by:Larry McCray Trio, Billy Branch, Dave Specter, John Kattke, Katherine Davis, A Mays and Blue; Billy Branch, Joanna Connor, Johnny Burgin, Harlan Terson, The Out of Favor Boys Trio, Billy Flynn.
Reminder…See you Tomorrow Thursday 9/3 at Trading 4s with Guy King and Ivy Ford
“Guy King hits the sweet spot where Soul, Blues & Jazz meet in high-flying harmony.” – David Ritz
“Guy King’s guitar playing is dazzling and we can say without a doubt that he is now one of the very few blues guitar stylists club. As a bonus, Guy is a great singer, with a deep and well-controlled voice. Believe us: one of the greatest contemporary blues musicians has arisen.” – Ulrick Parfum, SoulBag Magazine, France
“Ivy Ford is one of the up and coming stars in the blues world. At 26 years of age this young lady and her band were finalists at the 2019 International Blues Challenge (representing Crossroads Blues Society), have released two fantastic self released albums and garnered many invites to play at big festivals across the U.S. and Canada.” – Crossroads Blues Society