Howlin WolfOn 10/06/1910: Howlin' Wolf was born. He was born named Chester Arthur Burnett in White Station, Mississippi. His early nicknames were Big Foot Chester and Bull Cow, due to his large stature (6 foot 3 and close to 275 pounds). The name Howlin' Wolf came from his grandfather, who would tell him that if he misbehaved the howling wolves would get him.
In 1930 he met Charlie Patton. He would listen to Patton play regularly at the nearby juke joint. They would become friends and Charlie taught him to play the guitar, including showmanship.
In the 1930s, he performed by himself and with various blues musicians, including Mississippi Sheiks, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Ma Rainey, Lonnie Johnson, Tampa Red, Blind Blake, and Tommy Johnson. Blind Jefferson would also teach him harmonica in Sonny Boy Williamson II, who taught him how to play when Burnett moved to Parkin, Arkansas, in 1933.
In 1941 he was inducted into the US Army. He found it difficult in the army and was discharged two years later.
After leaving the army he returned to his family who had moved to West Memphis, Arkansas. There he helped with the farming as well as continuing to perform.
In 1948 he formed a band with Willie Johnson and Matt "Guitar" Murphy on guitar, Junior Parker on harmonica, a pianist known as "Destruction" and Willie Steele on Drums. The radio station KWEM began to broadcast his performances and he also occasionally joined Williamson on KFFA.
In 1951 Sam Phillips recorded several songs by Howlin' Wolf. Burnett started to work in a band with Willie Johnson and Pat Hare. That year he released "How Many More Years" with Chess Records and "Riding in the Moonlight" with RPM Records. Chess signed him and Burnett moved to Chicago in 1952. He recruited Jody Williams as his first guitarist and quickly persuaded Hubert Sumlin to leave Memphis to join him in Chicago. The lineup of Howlin' Wolf's band would change regularly over the years, though Sumlin would often play a part. Musicians who have played with Howlin' Wolf include: Willie Johnson, Jody Williams, Lee Cooper, L.D. McGhee, Otis "Big Smokey" Smothers, his brother Little Smokey Smothers, Jimmy Rogers, Freddie Robinson, and Buddy Guy.
Howlin' Wolf was one of the first to capitalise on the blues revival. In 1964 he toured Europe as part of the American Folk Blues Festival. In 1965 the Rolling Stones insisted he appear on the tv show Shindig!, after they had had a hit with Howlin' Wolf's song "Little Red Rooster". He recorded the album "The Super Super Blues Band" with Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters. He also recorded "The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions" with Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Ian Stewart, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts and others.
Howlin' Wolf produced many classic blues songs including: "Moanin' at Midnight", "How Many More Years", "Who Will Be Next", "Smokestack Lightning", "I Asked for Water (She Gave Me Gasoline)", "Wang Dang Doodle", "Back Door Man", "Spoonful", "The Red Rooster" (later known as "Little Red Rooster"), "I Ain't Superstitious", "Goin' Down Slow", and "Killing Floor".