Howlin' Wolf / June 10, 1910 - Jan 10, 1976

An OG proto-punk, Chester Burnett aka "Howlin' Wolf" was born on this day in 1910. In my opinion, one of the meanest sounds to ever grace records was his distinctively nasty growling voice and his raging tunes. "Smokestack Lightnin", "Moanin' At Midnight", "Evil", "Spoonful", "Killin Floor"...dosn't get any sicker!

He came from Mississippi and learned guitar from Charley Patton, learned harmonica from Sonny Boy Williamson II and his vocal style was influenced by Jimmie Rodgers. In '51 he recorded for Sam Phillips in Memphis and moved to Chicago the next year to record for Chess. In the '50s he learned to read and got his GED. Wolf developed a reputation of fair pay for his musicians, including contributions into his sidemen's retirement funds. Thus, he was able to attract the best talent, including a decades-long employment of Hubert Sumlin.

He found an audience with young rockers and toured Europe for the first time in '64 and continued to be successful for the remainder of his playing days. A 1970 car accident damaged his kidneys, which limited his ability to tour. He died in '76, from complications from kidney surgery.

As well as his vicious music, he was much-respected as a businessman and was a dedicated family man. His music helped lay the foundation for rock, metal and even punk and his tunes have been covered (or stolen) by just about every '60s British rocker.

Tagged: blues, Celebrate Icons, Chicago, guitar, harmonica, Howlin' Wolf, metal, punk, rock, rockabilly, Video, vintage footage

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