The Trail Of Howlin ‘Wolf

May 27, 2009  
Filed under Music

wolf“He had a voice like shattered glass being dragged over hot asphalt. It enabled him to register rage, paranoia, loneliness and lust almost as a single emotion clenched into a taut vocal fist that punched like none other on earth.” Mark Humphrey

Chester Arthur Burnett, better known as Howlin` Wolf (1910-1976), grew up in rural Mississippi and was a farmer by trade. Wolf came into his own as a musician in the early 1950s when he signed with Chess Records. He produced hits like “Moanin` At Midnight,” “How Many More Years,” and “Smokestack Lightning.” I first heard about Howlin` Wolf by way of British musicians who covered his songs. The Rolling Stones themselves had first introduced ‘The Wolf’ on the hit TV musical show “Shindig!”

In the 1960s many of the British Rock bands were highly influenced by Howlin` Wolf, and covered all the songs that they could get their hands on. The Animals and The Yardbirds had covered “Smokestack Lightning.” “The Lemon Song” by Led Zeppelin was modeled after “Killing Floor.” And I thought that Jim Morrison of The Doors had written “Back Door Man”- wrong! It was the Chicago Blueman and upright bass player on my question below.

I have two questions for you: 1.Who was the famous bluesman who wrote many of Howlin` Wolf`s hits? (hint: he wrote “Three Hundred Pounds Of Joy”) 2.What is the name of the record issued in 1971 that featured many famous British musicians? By the way, my favorite tune of ‘The Wolf’ is “Who`s Been Talkin`.”


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