by Robert Wilkinson
Today would have been the 104th birthday of blues legend Chester Arthur Burnett, a.k.a. “Howlin’ Wolf.” Today we have fantastic videos of the Blues Master and a bunch of greats performing his tunes!
Howlin’ Wolf (June 10, 1910 – January 10, 1976), was one of the greatest blues writers, singers, guitarists, and harmonica players in history. A contemporary of Muddy Waters, his performances were legend, and his songs have been covered countless times by the greatest in history. At 6’6” and 300 pounds he was a formidable presence. From Wikipedia:
With a booming voice and looming physical presence, Burnett is commonly ranked among the leading performers in electric blues; musician and critic Bub Koda declared, "no one could match Howlin' Wolf for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits." A number of songs written or popularized by Burnett—such as “Smokestack Lightnin’,” “Back Door Man,” “Killing Floor,” and “Spoonful” - have become blues and blues rock standards.
Here’s a great studio version by Howlin’ Wolf of “Killing floor”
Since this is the classic performance of the song against which all others are measured, we'll begin the tribute to his music with the video of Jimi’s incredible offering at Monterey of “Killing Floor”
From a 1969 concert in Stockholm, here’s a great b/w video clip of Jimi doing “Killing Floor”
And finally, live from the Crossroads Guitar Festival featuring Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, Hubert Sumlin, and Jimmie Vaughan, “Killing Floor”
Live in 1964, here’s a great video performance by Howlin’ Wolf of his classic “Smokestack Lightnin’”
Here’s the original 1956 Chess studio release by Howlin’ Wolf of “Smokestack Lightnin’”
From “Five Live Yardbirds,” here’s a great live performance in 1964 set to stills of the Yardbirds (featuring Eric Clapton) performing “Smokestack Lightnin’”
Here’s the studio version by the original Animals of “Smokestack Lightnin’”
From 1966, Howlin’ Wolf performing “How Many More Years”
From mid-60s England, Howlin’ Wolf live with the Rolling Stones in the audience! Here’s the Master taking us to town with “How Many More Years”
These were written by Willie Dixon, often based in pre-existing blues standards, and made famous by Howlin’ Wolf.
From his 1969 studio album, here's Howlin' Wolf doing “Back Door Man”
Here’s a video clip from a 1969 Doors concert, very live and out there, of “Back Door Man”
Here’s the original Howlin' Wolf studio version of “Little Red Rooster”
Here’s a great live video clip from 1964 of the VERY young Rolling Stones performing “Little Red Rooster” and here's another live performance from the Ed Sullivan Show in 1965 of the Stones doing “Little Red Rooster”
Here’s the original studio version by Howlin’ Wolf of “Wang Dang Doodle”
For your enjoyment, Jerry Garcia, Neil Young, and Bob Wier live and cranking in 1988 at the Bridge School Benefit giving up “Wang Dang Doodle”
For your enjoyment, the Grateful Dead with Bruce Hornsby very live in 1991 doing their version of “Wang Dang Doodle”
Here’s a great studio version by Koko Taylor of “Wang Dang Doodle”
From their 1971 album, here’s the Savoy Brown Blues Band studio version of “Wang Dang Doodle”
From the 1970 “Howlin’ Wolf London Sessions” album featuring Eric Clapton, Stevie Winwood, and the rhythm section of the Rolling Stones, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts (with Ian Stewart on keyboards), the studio version of “Wang Dang Doodle” and “I Ain’t Superstitious”
Here's the original Howlin' Wolf studio version of "I Ain't Superstitious"
Here’s the Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart live in 1968 set to stills, cranking out “I Ain’t Superstitious”
Here’s Jeff and Rod in a recent live video performance in LA of “I Ain’t Superstitious”
For our closing number, here’s the original Howlin' Wolf studio version of “Spoonful”
Here’s an awesome rare 9 minute live video performance from 1967 in London’s Revolution Club by Cream doing a very heavy version of “Spoonful” (If you don’t check out any other clip, this is the one to see. Wow!)
Here’s a fantastic live video clip from the 2012 Howlin’ for Hubert Concert at the legendary Apollo Theater featuring Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and James Cotton cranking out “Spoonful”
And finally, from the 2005 Crèam reunion at the Royal Albert Hall, a fantastic live video performance of “Spoonful”
For our encores,
Live in 1966, Howlin’ Wolf shouting out the Elmore James classic “Dust My Broom”
From who knows when, 7 minutes 40 seconds of pure gold! Howlin’ Wolf live giving us “Sittin’ On Top Of The World”
From 1970, 13+ minutes of “Highway 49 – Live in Concert 1970”
There are big men, and great men. You were both. Thanks for the get-down. You are a legend. RIP, Blues Brother.
© Copyright 2014 Robert Wilkinson