11:00 friday night, driving across the bridge, my iPod on shuffle, I turn the volume up.
Born Chester Arthur Burnett on June 10 1910 in White Station near West Point, Mississippi, he was nicknamed “Big Foot Chester” and “Bull Cow” in his early years, and he explained the origin of the name “Howlin’ Wolf” thus: “I got that from my grandfather. He used to tell me stories about the wolves in that part of the country.”
Howlin’ Wolf was a musical giant in every way. He stood six-foot-six, weighed almost three hundred pounds, wore size seventeen shoes, and poured out his darkest sorrows onstage in a voice like a raging chainsaw. Half a century after his first hits, his sound still terrifies and inspires.
The Wolf survived a grim childhood and hardscrabble youth as a sharecropper in Mississippi. He began his career by playing and singing with the first Delta blues stars for two decades in perilous juke joints. He was present at the birth of rock ‘n’ roll in Memphis, where Sam Phillips—who also discovered Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis—called Wolf his “greatest discovery.” Wolf helped define the sound of electric blues and vied with rival Muddy Waters as the king of Chicago blues. He ended his career performing and recording with the world’s most famous rock stars. His passion for music kept him performing—despite devastating physical problems—right up to his death on January 10, 1976. via Last.FM