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Hubert Sumlin

Quiet and extremely unassuming off the bandstand, Hubert Sumlin played a style of guitar incendiary enough to stand tall beside the immortal Howlin' Wolf. The Wolf was Sumlin's imposing mentor for more than two decades, and it proved a mutually beneficial relationship; Sumlin's twisting, darting, unpredictable lead guitar constantly energized the Wolf's 1960s Chess sides, even when the songs themselves (check out "Do the Do" or "Mama's Baby" for conclusive proof) were less than stellar. Sumlin started out twanging the proverbial broom wire nailed to the wall before he got his mitts on a real guitar. He grew up near West Memphis, Arkansas, briefly hooking up with another Young Lion with a rosy future, harpist James Cotton, before receiving a summons from the mighty Wolf to join him in Chicago in 1954. Sumlin learned his craft nightly on the bandstand behind Wolf, his confidence growing as he graduated from rhythm guitar duties to lead. By the dawn of the '60s, Sumlin's slashing axe was a prominent component on the great majority of Wolf's waxings, including "Wang Dang Doodle," "Shake for Me," "Hidden Charms" (boasting perhaps Sumlin's greatest recorded solo), "Three Hundred Pounds of Joy," and "Killing Floor." Although they had a somewhat tempestuous relationship, Sumlin remained loyal to Wolf until the big man's 1976 death. But Sumlin cut a handful of solo sessions before that, beginning with a most unusual 1964 date in East Berlin that was produced by Horst Lippmann during a European tour under the auspices of the American Folk Blues Festival (the "behind the Iron Curtain" session also featured pianist Sunnyland Slim and bassist Willie Dixon). In subsequent years Sumlin allowed his vocal talents to shine, recording solo sets that revealed him to be an understated but effective singer -- while his guitar continued to communicate most forcefully. The esteem with which he was held by musicians of a later generation was ably demonstrated by the guest list on Sumlin's 2004 album About Them Shoes, including Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Levon Helm, and David Johansen, not to mention a noted bluesman from Sumlin's own past, harmonica player James Cotton, the old friend and bandmate who first played with Sumlin in West Memphis back in their teenage years of the early '50s, before Cotton joined up with Muddy Waters and moved to Chicago, paralleling Sumlin's own journey to the Windy City around the same time. He followed up About Them Shoes with Treblemaker in 2007. Hubert Sumlin died of heart failure in Wayne, New Jersey on December 4, 2011; he was 80 years old. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards paid for the bluesman's funeral expenses. ~ Bill Dahl
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Stations Featuring
Hubert Sumlin

    All Blues

    All Blues
    9 songs

Albums by
Hubert Sumlin

Top Songs by
Hubert Sumlin

  1.   Song
  2.   Got the Blues
  3.   Sitting on Top of the World
  4.   The Red Rooster
  5.   Down in the Bottom
  6.   Chunky
  7.   Blues For Henry
  8.   Living the Blues
  9.   How Can You Leave Me, Little Girl?
  10.   Bring Your Love to Me
  11.   Hidden Charms
  12.   Don't Judge a Book by the Cover
  13.   Smokestack
  14.   You My Best
  15.   I Got It Where I Want It
  16.   Sumlin Boogie
  17.   Across The Board
  18.   You Got to Help Me
  19.   West Side Soul
  20.   I Could Be You
  21.   Blue Shadows
  22.   I Want You
  23.   I've Been Hurt
  24.   A Soul That's Been Abused
  25.   I Need You So Bad by Carey Bell's Blues Harp Band
  26.   Man and the Blues by Carey Bell's Blues Harp Band
  27.   Pickin'
  28.   Blue Guitar
  29.   Letter to My Girlfriend
  30.   Come Back Little Girl
  31.   I'm Coming Home
  32.   Without a Friend Like You
  33.   Mind Is Rambling
  34.   Old Friends
  35.   Play It Cool
  36.   All I Can Do
  37.   I Don't Want to Hear About Yours
  38.   Can't Call You No More
  39.   I'm Trying to Make London My Home by Sonny Boy Williamson II
  40.   No Title Boogie featuring Clifton James
  41.   Gamblin' Woman featuring Carey Bell
  42.   No Title Boogie
  43.   Still Playing the Blues
  44.   Love You, Woman
  45.   Look Don't Touch
  46.   Howlin' for My Darlin'
  47.   How Many More Years
  48.   Honey Dumplins
  49.   Down the Dusty Road
  50.   No Time for Me
  51.   Sunnyland's New Orleans Boogie featuring Bob Stroger
  52.   Everytime I Get to Drinking
  53.   Your Foxy Self
  54.   Blues Is Here to Stay
  55.   Dust My Broom featuring Clifton James
  56.   Poor Me, Pour Me
  57.   I Don't Want No Woman
  58.   Spanish Greens
  59.   There' LL Be a Day featuring Bob Stroger
  60.   Good Bye
  61.   Hubert's Blues
  62.   When I Feel Better
  63.   I'm Not Your Clown
  64.   I've Stopped Crying
  65.   Juke
  66.   That's Why I'm Gonna Leave You
  67.   Just Like I Treat You
  68.   We Gonna Jump
  69.   Healing Feeling
  70.   I Love
  71.   Blues Anytime
  72.   Big Legged Woman featuring Sunnyland Slim
  73.   Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky featuring Bob Stroger
  74.   One Day I Get Lucky featuring Bob Stroger
  75.   I Got a Little Thing They Call It Swing featuring Carey Bell
  76.   Sometimes I'm Right
  77.   I Love featuring Bob Stroger
  78.   Everytime I Get to Drinkin' featuring Clifton James
  79.   Dissatisfied featuring Clifton James
  80.   Willie's Back in Town
  81.   Slip in Mules featuring Clifton James
  82.   Too Late for Me to Pray

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