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Fri, 06.10.1910

Howlin Wolf, a symbol of Urban Blues

Howlin' Wolf

This date marks the birth of Howlin' Wolf in 1910. He was an African American blues singer and composer.

Chester Arthur “Howlin' Wolf” Burnett was from West Point, Mississippi. He was brought up on a cotton plantation hearing the traditional music of the region.  He started singing professionally when quite young and in the 1920s and 1930s, performed throughout Mississippi, playing in small clubs. He was influenced by the music of Blind Lemon Jefferson, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Charley Patton.

In the 1940s, he went to Arkansas, where a blues tradition flourished, and he formed his own group, which included James Cotton and Little Jr. Parker, both of whom became noted blues performers in their own right. Howlin' Wolf accompanied himself on guitar and harmonica, but his main instrument was his guttural and emotionally suggestive voice, which gave his songs power and authenticity.

After his first record, Moanin' at Midnight in 1951, became a hit, he moved to Chicago. Along with Muddy Waters, he made the city a center for the transformation of the acoustic Mississippi Delta blues style into an electronically amplified style for urban audiences. Only blues audiences knew his work until the Rolling Stones and other British and white-American rock stars of the 1960s and '70s acknowledged his influence.

Howlin' Wolf was noted for his brooding lyrics and his earthy, aggressive stage presence. He was one of the principal exponents of the urban blues style of Chicago.  Howlin’ Wolf died January 10, 1976 in Hines, Illinois.

Reference:
Nothing But the Blues The Music and the Musicians
Edited by Lawrence Cohn
Copyright 1993 Abbeville Publishing Group, New York
ISBN 1-55859-271-7

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