Blues legend, grammy winner and highly influential guitarist Hubert Sumlin died Sunday of heart failure.
Sumlin is best known as sideman for fellow blues legend Howlin' Wolf with whom Sumlin played from 1953 until The Wolf's death in 1976.
The clear, biting tone and furious spurts of notes that blues fans know well on classic Howlin' Wolf tracks such as "Spoonful," "Smokestack Lightning," "Wang Dang Doodle," "Back Door Man" and "I Asked for Water (She Gave Me Gasoline)," was Sumlin's signature and a big influence on many of the blues rock/classic rock guitar gods of the 70s such as Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton.
The Greenwood, Mississipi native born in 1931, famously bought his first guitar for $6 and met Howlin Wolf as a teenager while playing outside of the club Wolf was playing. Later Wolf invited him up north to play second guitar, but Sumlin soon took over the lead spot.
After Howlin' Wolf's death, Sumlin continued to play with members of the band and began releasing solo records the most recent of which was the Grammy nominated (his fourth nomination) About Them Shoes from 2004 featuring Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Levon Helm, James Cotton and others.
Sumlin had one of his lungs removed in 2004 but kept touring up until his death.
Sumlin is a member of the Blues Hall of Fame and has one multiple blues awards but for some reason is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's reconfigured sideman category now called the "Award for Musical Excellence."'
That oversight will probably be corrected in the next few years.
Here's some Sumlin' in his spot beside Howlin' Wolf
and here's "Lil Hubert" with Sunnyland Slim and Willie Dixon on bass
Here's Hubert rockin' an awesomely flowery 1970's era shirt talking about life with Howlin' Wolf
A Star-studded geetar jam on Killing Floor