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Howlin' Wolf: A Great Star of Blues

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On June 10, 1910, Chester Arthur Burnett, better known as Howlin’ Wolf, was born in West Point, Mississippi. He was known as one of the most influential blues singer, songwriter, and harmonica and guitar player. His nickname was given by his grandfather, who used to tell him stories about wolves. Several times the same Howlin’ Wolf mentioned he was quite influenced by the sounds of Charley Patton, Jimmie Rodgers and Tommy Johnson.

Howlin’ Wolf worked as a farmer during the 1930s. During the World War II, he served as a radioman in the United States Army in the Pacific Northwest. By 1948, he had already formed his first band with some well known musicians. With his band, he soon became a local celebrity. His first recordings came in 1951. In that same year, Howlin’ Wolf recorded sides for Ike Turner. Later on, he settled in Chicago, Illinois. Here, his huge voice and subtle phrasing had its effect on the public. With hits such as “Evil” and “Smokestack Lightnin’”, he consolidated his career as an R&B singer.

In 1962, he recorded his album Howlin’ Wolf, which is considered one of the most influential and famous blues records, which cover became quite popular (an acoustic guitar leaning against a rocking chair). From this album, the Rolling Stones covered “The Red Rooster”, and in 1965, he performed with this group on the show Shindig.

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