Say It's Your Birthday: Howlin' Wolf

We would argue that Howlin' Wolf was the greatest blues artist of all time.

Sure, they say that Robert Johnson or Muddy Waters was The Man. But in our

book, it's Wolf, plain and simple. His idiosyncratic singing style, as crazed

and bizarre as you'll find, combined with the highly influential guitar work

of Hubert Sumlin, made his genius recordings--"Wang Dang Doodle," "Evil,"

"Who's Been Talkin'," "Sittin' On Top of the World," "Back Door Man," "The

Red Rooster" and so many more--as good as recordings get. He was born on June

10, 1910 in West Point, Mississippi. Amazingly, he was 41 when he made his

first recording. Although he was recorded by Sam Phillips for Sun Records

before Phillips hit pay dirt with Elvis, it was only after Wolf signed on at

Chicago's Chess Records that he hit his stride, recording the remarkable

string of blues records that have made him legend. He was rediscovered in the

'60s as part of the blues revival spearheaded by John Mayall, Michael

Bloomfield, Eric Clapton and other young blues men who worshipped the Chicago

blues men. Wolf died in 1976 of cancer, just two months after appearing at

the 1815 Club on the West Side in Chicago. He was inducted into the Rock and

Roll Hall of Fame in January of 1991 as a "forefather," but to our ears, Wolf

was as rock and roll as they get. A legend among legends, everyone from the

Rolling Stones to Sonic Youth are forever indebted to him.