R.I.P. Hubert Sumlin (Nov. 16, 1931 – Dec. 4, 2011) , guitarist for Howlin’ Wollf

I first became acquainted with Hubert Sumlin several years ago after Grammy-winning blues great Robert Cray recommended that I watch “The Howlin’ Wolf Story: The Secret History of Rock N’ Roll.”

Wolf’s longtime guitar player Hubert Sumlin is featured in much of the documentary. I specifically recall how Hubert spoke of how when he first auditioned for Wolf, he was told to learn how to play guitar with his fingers, rather than a flat-pick. He learned, and eventually became Wolf’s right hand man. His skills became so highly regarded, even Muddy Waters tried to steal him away from Wolf at one point.

Sumlin’ blues fingerstyle definitely played a role in how I approach the instrument, as I find myself putting the pick aside more often than not, since watching video footage of him playing.

Sumlin was highly praised by, and influenced a wide range of guitarists including Hendrix, Clapton and Page. He will certainly be missed.

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