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Hubert Sumlin

Hubert Sumlin
Background information
Birth name Hubert Sumlin
Born (1931-11-16)November 16, 1931
Greenwood, Mississippi, United States
Died December 4, 2011(2011-12-04) (aged 80)
Wayne, New Jersey, United States
Genres Chicago blues, electric blues[1]
Occupation(s) Singer, guitarist
Instruments Guitar, vocals
Years active 1953–2011
Associated acts Howlin' Wolf
Muddy Waters
Website Official website
Notable instruments
Gibson Les Paul Goldtop, Fender Stratocaster

Hubert Charles Sumlin (November 16, 1931 – December 4, 2011) was a Chicago blues guitarist and singer,[1] best known for his "wrenched, shattering bursts of notes, sudden cliff-hanger silences and daring rhythmic suspensions" as a member of Howlin' Wolf's band.[2] Sumlin was listed as number 43 in the Rolling Stone 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.[3]


  • Biography 1
  • Discography 2
    • Albums 2.1
    • Videos 2.2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Born in Greenwood, Mississippi, Sumlin was raised in Hughes, Arkansas.[4] He got his first guitar when he was eight years old.[5] As a boy, Sumlin first met Howlin' Wolf by sneaking into a performance. When Wolf relocated from Memphis to Chicago in 1953, his long-time guitarist Willie Johnson chose not to join him. Upon his arrival in Chicago, Wolf first hired Chicago guitarist Jody Williams, and in 1954 Wolf invited Sumlin to relocate to Chicago to play second guitar in his Chicago-based band. Williams left the band in 1955, leaving Sumlin as the primary guitarist, a position he held almost continuously (except for a brief spell playing with Muddy Waters around 1956) for the remainder of Wolf's career. According to Sumlin, Howlin' Wolf sent Sumlin to a classical guitar instructor at the Chicago Conservatory of Music for a while to learn the keyboards and scales.[6] Sumlin played on the album Howlin' Wolf, also called The Rockin' Chair Album, which was named the third greatest guitar album of all time by Mojo magazine in 2004.[7][8]

Sumlin performing in France on December 17, 1975. Five days later he recorded My Guitar and Me

Upon Wolf's death in 1976, Sumlin continued on with several other members of Wolf's band under the name "The Wolf Pack" until about 1980. Sumlin also recorded under his own name, beginning with a session from a tour of Europe with Wolf in 1964. His final solo effort was About Them Shoes, released in 2004 by Tone-Cool Records. He underwent lung removal surgery the same year, yet continued performing until just before his death. His final recording, just days before his demise, were tracks laid down for the Stephen Dale Petit album "Cracking The Code" (333 Records).

Sumlin was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 2008.[9] He was nominated for four Grammy Awards: in 1999 for the album Tribute to Howlin' Wolf with Henry Gray, Calvin Jones, Sam Lay, and Colin Linden, in 2000 for Legends with Pinetop Perkins, in 2006 for his solo project About Them Shoes (which featured performances by Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Levon Helm, David Johansen and James Cotton) and in 2010 for his participation on Kenny Wayne Shepherd's Live! in Chicago. He won multiple Blues Music Awards, and was a judge for the fifth annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.[10]

A resident of Totowa, New Jersey for 10 years before his death,[11] Sumlin died on December 4, 2011, in a hospital in Wayne, New Jersey, of heart failure at the age of 80.[12][13] Mick Jagger and Keith Richards paid Sumlin's funeral costs.[14]



Year Title Label Number Notes
1964 American Folk Blues Amiga 850 043 Germany
1969 Hubert's "American" Blues! Scout Sc-4
1974 Kings of Chicago Blues, Vol. 2 Disques Vogue LDM 30175 France, recorded 1971
1976 Groove Black & Blue 33.511 France, recorded 1975
1980 Gamblin' Woman L + R 42.008 Germany, recorded 1980
1987 Hubert Sumlin's Blues Party Black Top BT-1036 US
1989 Heart & Soul Blind Pig BP-3389 US
1990 Healing Feeling Black Top BT-1053 US
1991 Blues Guitar Boss JSP 239 UK, recorded 1990 in London
1994 Made in Argentina 1993 Blues Special 9501 Argentina, recorded 1993 in Buenos Aires with Emilion Villanueva and the Kansas City Boys
1994 I'm the Back Door Man Blues Special 9506 Argentina, recorded 1993 in Buenos Aires
1994 My Guitar and Me Evidence Music ECD-26045 Paris, recorded on Dec 22, 1975 at Barclay Studio
1996 Blues Classics Bellaphon 82007 Germany, recorded 1964 in East Berlin
1998 I Know You APO 2004 US
1998 Wake Up Call Blues Planet 1116 US
1999 Pinetop Perkins & Hubert Sumlin: Legends Telarc 83446 US
2003 Doing the Don't Intuition 34252 Germany; Elliott Sharp's Terraplane, with Hubert Sumlin
2004 About Them Shoes Tone-Cool/Artemis Records 51609 US, also Rykodisc RCD 17307 in the UK
2010 Midnight Memphis Sun NorthernBlues Music NMB0058 JW-Jones release with special guests Hubert Sumlin and Charlie Musselwhite
2012 Sky Road Songs Yellowbird 7724-2 Germany; Elliott Sharp's Terraplane, with special guest Hubert Sumlin (recorded in 2011)


Year Title Label Number Notes
2005 The Blues Guitar of Hubert Sumlin Homespun Tapes SUMGT21 US, VHS & DVD


  1. ^ a b Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 181.  
  2. ^ Jeff Kitts and Brad Tolinski, Guitar World Presents the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, Hal Leonard Corporation, 2002, p. 37.
  3. ^ "65: Hubert Sumlin". The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2011-03-27. 
  4. ^ Komara, Edward, ed. (2005). Sumlin, Hubert. Encyclopedia of the Blues (Psychology Press). p. 938. 
  5. ^ Gross, Jason. "Hubert Sumlin". Retrieved 2008-06-12. 
  6. ^ Segrest, James; Mark Hoffman (2004). Moanin' at Midnight: The Life and Times of Howlin' Wolf. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press. pp. 111–112.  
  7. ^ Barnes, Anthony (21 July 2003). "'"Hendrix heads list of 100 guitar greats with 'Are You Experienced. The Independent (London). Retrieved 20 February 2010. 
  8. ^ "Hubert Sumlin". The Daily Telegraph (London). December 6, 2011. 
  9. ^ Dorothy L. Hill. "Blues Music Awards 2008". Retrieved January 21, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Independent Music Awards". Independent Music Awards. Retrieved 2015-10-07. 
  11. ^ Shapiro, T. Rees, via Washington Post News Service. "Totowa's Hubert Sumlin, influential blues guitarist, dies at 80", The Record (Bergen County), December 7, 2011. Accessed January 28, 2015. "Born in Greenwood, Miss., Mr. Sumlin lived in Milwaukee for most of his life before moving to Totowa 10 years ago."
  12. ^ White, Jim. "Blues guitar great Hubert Sumlin dies". Retrieved 2011-12-04. 
  13. ^ Hubert Sumlin at Find a Grave
  14. ^ "Rolling Stones' Jagger, Richards Pay For Hubert Sumlin's Funeral". Billboard. Retrieved 2015-10-07. 
  15. ^ Pete Hoppula. "Hubert Sumlin". Retrieved January 21, 2010. 

External links

  • Hubert Sumlin at AllMusic
  • Hubert Sumlin biography at
  • About Them ShoesBBC review of
  • magazineSeventh Hour BluesHubert Sumlin video from on YouTube
  • Hubert Sumlin 1931-2011
  • Illustrated Hubert Sumlin discography
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