The Howlin’ Wolf Story – The Secret History of Rock & Roll (Documentary, 2003)

Few if any figures in blues loom as large as Howlin’ Wolf, yet there’s been a sad lack of footage of this staggering man. This director’s cut from the When the Sun Goes Down-The Secret History of Rock & Roll series is packed with never-before-seen live footage, rare Shindig footage presented by Mick Jagger and Brian Jones, interviews with bandmates and family and more. An absolute must for music-history and blues fans.

Chester Arthur Burnett (June 10, 1910 – January 10, 1976), known as Howlin’ Wolf, was a Chicago blues singer, guitarist, and harmonica player, originally from Mississippi. With a booming voice and imposing physical presence, he is one of the best-known Chicago blues artists. The musician and critic Cub Koda noted, “no one could match Howlin’ Wolf for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits.” Producer Sam Phillips recalled, “When I heard Howlin’ Wolf, I said, ‘This is for me. This is where the soul of man never dies.'” Several of his songs, including “Smokestack Lightnin'”, “Killing Floor” and “Spoonful”, have become blues and blues rock standards. In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number 54 on its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.

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Great performance: Rolling Stones – Little Red Rooster, Knebworth 1976 (video)

The Stones were back on stage for what was their biggest show in the UK since the Hyde Park concert of 1969 in August 1976, and it was in front of their biggest paying crowd ever…somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 people.

One of the highlights for me was the performance of Willie Dixon’s Little Red Rooster, Rolling Stones does a version that is very close to Howling Wolf’s interpretation of the song. Slow and heavy Chicago blues with a fantastic groove.

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July 1: The Late Blues Legend Willie Dixon was born in 1915

The Blues are the true facts of life expressed in words and song, inspiration, feeling, and understanding.
~Willie Dixon

“The blues will always be because the blues are the roots of all American music.”
~Willie Dixon

Chuck Berry Inducts Willie Dixon into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

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January 11: Howlin Wolf released Howlin Wolf (album) in 1962

Howlin’ Wolf is the third studio album from Chicago blues singer/guitarist/harmonicist Howlin’ Wolf. It is a collection of six singles previously released by the Chess label from 1960 through 1962. This was a common practise at the time.

Because of the illustration on its sleeve, shot by Don Bronstein, staff photgrapher at Playboy magazine and house photographer at Chess Records, the album is often called The Rockin’ Chair Album, a nickname even added to the cover on some reissue pressings of the LP.

Howlin’ Wolf’s second album brings together some of the blues great’s best singles from the late ’50s and early ’60s. Also available as a fine two-fer with his debut, Moanin’ in the Moonlight, the so-called Rockin’ Chair Album represents the cream of Wolf’s Chicago blues work. Those tracks afforded classic status are many, including “Spoonful,” “The Red Rooster,” “Wang Dang Doodle,” “Back Door Man,” “Shake for Me,” and “Who’s Been Talking?” Also featuring the fine work of Chess house producer and bassist Willie Dixon and guitarist Hubert Sumlin, Rockin’ Chair qualifies as one of pinnacles of early electric blues, and is an essential album for any quality blues collection.
– Stephen Cook (Allmusic)*

*= note that he concider it the second, not third, Howlin Wolf album. This is debateable since all the first three Wolf albums were released in 1962 (according to allmusic, but Wikipedia says that the debut was released in 1959), and it’s often hard to find the exact date of release of these recordings.
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June 10: The late great Howlin Wolf was born in 1910

Chester Arthur Burnett (June 10, 1910 – January 10, 1976), known as Howlin’ Wolf, was an influential American blues singer, guitarist and harmonica player.

With a booming voice and looming physical presence, Burnett is commonly ranked among the leading performers in electric blues; musician and critic Cub Koda declared, “no one could match Howlin’ Wolf for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits.” A number of songs written or popularized by Burnett—such as “Smokestack Lightnin'”, “Back Door Man”, “Killing Floor” and “Spoonful”—have become blues and blues rock standards.

Allmusic:

“A Robert Johnson may have possessed more lyrical insight, a Muddy Waters more dignity, and a B.B. King certainly more technical expertise, but no one could match him for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits.”

Very fine documentary, The Howlin’ Wolf Story – The Secret History Of Rock and Roll (playlist with 8 videos):

Buddy Guy (to Rolling Stone Magazine):

“And he used to put on such a show. He would get down on the floor, crawl like a wolf and sing in that voice: “I’m a tail dragger.” He would do this boogie-woogie thing, around and around — like the kids used to do with the hula hoops, where you had to go around and around at your waist, to keep the hoop going. That was the kind of shit he was doing. I’d see that and think, “Man, there goes the Wolf.“”

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