- Entertainment and Media»
Howlin Wolf....Blues Great
Now before I begin, I understand that this music is not going to be appreciated by everyone, and that's okay, because I'm simply writing about MY kind of music. That being said, I do hope you will enjoy this hub.
I grew up listening to the blues, because it was my mother's kind of music. Although I enjoyed it, it didn't fully register with me until I grew up, which by then was too late to see any of these magnificent performers in person. Among my favorites were Howlin Wolf, Bobby Blue Bland, Muddy Waters, and Bo Diddley. I was so impressed with Howlin Wolf's story that I wanted to share a little of what I learned about him.
Howlin Wolf was born Chester Arthur Burnett, on June 10, 1910, in White Station Mississippi, USA. Wolf was known as one of the best blues singers of his era. He was an imposing figure, standing 6 feet, 6 inches, (198 cm) and weighing somewhere around 300 lbs, (136k kg). Burnett explains how he came by the name Howlin Wolf. He puts it this way, "I got that from my grandfather [John Jones]." His Grandfather would often tell him stories about the wolves in that part of the country, and warn him that if he misbehaved, the howling wolves would "get him".
Wolf's career span some 40 plus years, beginning in the 30's and ending with his death in 1976, at the age of 65. During the 30's he performed in the South with some of the greats of his day, which included, Floyd Jones, Honeyboy Edwards, Roberts Johnson, Son House, Willie Johnson, and many more.The 50's found him making his first recordings with two labels, RPM and Chess Records, he eventually signed with Chess Records.
Interesting Side Note
Of the black blues men of his era, Wolf was said to have been more financially successful, than most. This, I might add, was a rare distinction for a black blues man of the time. He attributed this to, not only his musical ability, but also his avoiding the pitfalls of gambling, alcohol, and "loose women," which so many of his peers fell prey to. What was amazing is that Wolf was functionally illiterate into his 40's, but he eventually returned to school, and earned his G.E.D. He later studied accounting, and other business courses, which helped make him the success that he was. Concerning his success, he described himself as "the onliest one to drive himself up from the Delta like a gentleman" to Chicago, he did this in his own car with four thousand dollars in his pocket, having this kind of money was almost unheard of for black blues men of the time.
In the 1950's, of the four songs made by popular by Wolf, that qualified as hits on the Billboard R&B charts, this song "Smokestack Lightning" made it to #8, and stayed there for three weeks. It has come back in vogue due in large part to a very popular American commercial for Viagra. Wolf either wrote or co-wrote the song, which was song by practically every one of his contemporaries, but none can match the heart, and soul, Wolf put into it when he sang it. I can honestly say I don't know what in the world he's saying, LOL, or rather what he means, and I don't think that's the point. I think, when you have the blues it's not what you say it's how you say it. "Smokestack Lightning" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.
Although I like this version, I like the original recording better, after listening to this version go over and listen to the original,( which will be about 3 mins long), and see if you don't agree.
Spoonful was recorded in 1960. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame listed Spoonful, Smokestack Lightning, and Red Rooster among the 500 songs that shaped rock and roll.
How Many More Years
How Many More Years
This is a performance in 1966, don't know the location.
Little Red Rooster
Little Red Rooster
Little Red Rooster was recorded in 1962.
This is just a brief outline of Howlin Wolf's life. For more about this magnificent performer, check him out on Wikipedia, under Howlin Wolf.