Tag Archives: Howlin Wolf

June 10: The late great Howlin Wolf was born in 1910 – 105 years ago


June 10: The late great Howlin Wolf was born in 1910 – 105 years ago

Chester Arthur Burnett (June 10, 1910 – January 10, 1976), known as Howlin’ Wolf, was an influential American blues singer, guitarist and harmonica player.

With a booming voice and looming physical presence, Burnett is commonly ranked among the leading performers in electric blues; musician and critic Cub 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.


“A Robert Johnson may have possessed more lyrical insight, a Muddy Waters more dignity, and a B.B. King certainly more technical expertise, but no one could match him for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits.”

Very fine documentary, The Howlin’ Wolf Story – The Secret History Of Rock and Roll (playlist with 8 videos):

Buddy Guy (to Rolling Stone Magazine):

“And he used to put on such a show. He would get down on the floor, crawl like a wolf and sing in that voice: “I’m a tail dragger.” He would do this boogie-woogie thing, around and around — like the kids used to do with the hula hoops, where you had to go around and around at your waist, to keep the hoop going. That was the kind of shit he was doing. I’d see that and think, “Man, there goes the Wolf.“”

Continue reading June 10: The late great Howlin Wolf was born in 1910 – 105 years ago

19 Songs released in 1961 you MUST hear

OLD post … You’re being redirected to a newer version……

This is my second post in this new series of posts.

My rules:

  • Only one song per artist/group
  • The song must be released that specific year
  • Songs from live albums not allowed (that’s another & more complicated list)

Please feel free to publish your own favorite songs from 1961 in the comments section…

AND lists like this are supposed to be fun! Don’t take it too seriously.

Here we go…

Jan 11: Howlin’ Wolf by Howlin’ Wolf – 1962

hw album

“Howlin’ Wolf’s second album brings together some of the blues great’s best singles from the late ’50s and early ’60s. Also available as a fine two-fer with his debut, Moanin’ in the Moonlight, the so-called Rockin’ Chair Album represents the cream of Wolf’s Chicago blues work. Those tracks afforded classic status are many, including “Spoonful,” “The Red Rooster,” “Wang Dang Doodle,” “Back Door Man,” “Shake for Me,” and “Who’s Been Talking?” Also featuring the fine work of Chess house producer and bassist Willie Dixon and guitarist Hubert Sumlin, Rockin’ Chair qualifies as one of pinnacles of early electric blues, and is an essential album for any quality blues collection.”
– Stephen Cook (Allmusic)

Continue reading Jan 11: Howlin’ Wolf by Howlin’ Wolf – 1962

Music history – June 10

Today: The Legendary Ray Charles passed away in 2004, 10 years ago (read more)

Sinatra, and Bing Crosby before him, had been masters of words. Ray Charles is a master of sounds. His records disclose an extraordinary assortment of slurs, glides, turns, shrieks, wails, breaks, shouts, screams and hollers, all wonderfully controlled, disciplined by inspired musicianship, and harnessed to ingenious subtleties of harmony, dynamics and rhythm… It is either the singing of a man whose vocabulary is inadequate to express what is in his heart and mind or of one whose feelings are too intense for satisfactory verbal or conventionally melodic articulation. He can’t tell it to you. He can’t even sing it to you. He has to cry out to you, or shout to you, in tones eloquent of despair — or exaltation. The voice alone, with little assistance from the text or the notated music, conveys the message.
~Henry Pleasants

Ray Charles

 104 years ago: The late great Howlin Wolf was born June 10 in 1910 (read more)

“A Robert Johnson may have possessed more lyrical insight, a Muddy Waters more dignity, and a B.B. King certainly more technical expertise, but no one could match him for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits.”



  Empire Burlesque by Bob Dylan was released June 10 in 1985 (read more)

“Say what you want about Empire Burlesque – at the very least, it’s the most consistent record Bob Dylan has made since Blood on the Tracks, even if it isn’t quite as interesting as Desire. However, it is a better set of songs, all deriving from the same place and filled with subtle gems — the most obvious being “Tight Connection to My Heart (Has Anybody Seen My Love?),” but also “Emotionally Yours” and “Dark Eyes” — proving that his powers are still there.”
~Stephen Thomas Erlewine (allmusic)

 empire 2 cover
 Uprising (Released June 10, 1980 )is a reggae album by Bob Marley and the Wailers. Marley died the following year, and Uprising was thus the final studio album released during his lifetime. This album is one of Marley’s most directly religious, with nearly every song addressing his Rastafarian beliefs, culminating in the acoustic folk classic, “Redemption Song”.  Bob-Marley-The-Wailers-Uprising
 Bob Dylan – Workingman’s Blues #2 – Vienna, Austria 10 June 2008 (Video)  bob dylan vienna 2008

Spotify Playlist – June 10

Howlin’ Wolf: Smokestack Lightning

howlin wolf

The greatest twenty words of music criticism spoken by any person in the 20th century (Paul Williams):

“When I heard Howlin’ Wolf, I said, This is for me. This is where the soul of man never dies.”
– Sam Phillips


Howlin’ Wolf is for me the second greatest blues man in history.

His voice chills me to the core.. looking at videos of him fills me with awe.. and reading about him…  makes me understand his importance in american music history. He rambled with Son House, Charlie Patton…. and stumbled upon Robert Johnson now & then…

Our Man & Son House:

Smokestack Lightning is his best song.

The late great Robert Palmer once wrote:

God, what it would be worth on film to see the fervor in that man’s face when he sang. His eyes would light up, you’d see the veins come out on his neck, and buddy, there was nothing on his mind but that song. He sang with his damn soul

Now for the Facts… from Wikipedia:

Smokestack Lightning” (or “Smoke Stack Lightning” as listed on the original single) is a classic of the blues. In 1956, Howlin’ Wolf recorded the song and it became one of his most popular and influential songs. It is based on earlier blues songs and numerous artists later interpreted it.

Single by Howlin’ Wolf
B-side “You Can’t Be Beat”
Released March 1956
Format 7″ 45 rpm & 10″ 78 rpm records
Recorded Chicago
January 1956
Genre Blues
Length 2:32
Label Chess (Cat. no. 1618)
Writer(s) Chester Burnett aka Howlin’ Wolf
Producer Leonard Chess, Phil Chess, Willie Dixon

“Smokestack Lightning”, in one form or another, “had been part of his [Wolf’s] repertoire as far back as the early 1930s” when he was performing with Charley Patton in small Delta communities. The song, called “a hypnotic one-chord drone piece” draws on earlier blues, such as Tommy Johnson’s “Big Road Blues” (1928 Victor 21279), the Mississippi Sheiks’ “Stop and Listen Blues” (1930 OKeh 8807), and Charley Patton’s “Moon Going Down” (1930 Paramount 13014). Wolf said the song was inspired by watching trains in the night: “We used to sit out in the country and see the trains go by, watch the sparks come out of the smokestack. That was smokestack lightning. In 1951, Howlin’ Wolf recorded the song as “Crying at Daybreak” (RPM 340). It contains the line “O-oh smokestack lightnin’, shinin’, just like gold, oh don’t you hear me cryin’ …” similar to the Mississippi Sheiks “A-ah, smokestack lightnin’, that bell shine just like gold, now don’t you hear me talkin’ …”



  • “Smokestack Lightning” received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999 honoring its lasting historical significance.
  •  It is ranked #285 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”
  • In 1985, the song was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in the “Classics of Blues Recordings” category.
  •  It is also included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame list of the “500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll”.
  •  In 2009 “Smokestack Lightning” was selected for permanent preservation in the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress in the United States


The Lyrics:

Ah, oh, smokestack lightning
Shinin’, just like gold
Why don’t ya hear me cryin’?
Ah, whoo hoo, ooh…

Whoa, oh, tell me, baby
What’s the, matter with you?
Why don’t ya hear me cryin’?
Whoo hoo, whoo hoo

Whoa, oh, tell me, baby
Where did ya, stay last night?
A-why don’t ya hear me cryin’?
Whoo hoo, whoo hoo

Whoa, oh, stop your train
Let her, go for a ride
Why don’t ya hear me cryin’?
Whoo hoo, whoo hoo

Whoa, oh, fare ya well
Never see, ah, you no more
Ah, why don’t ya hear me cryin’?
Ooh, whoo hoo, whoo hoo

Whoa, oh, who been here baby since
I, I been gone, a little, bitty boy?
Girl, be on
Ah, whoo hoo, whoo hoo

Live in England 1964:

Studio version:

– Egil