The legendary blues guitarist succumbed to heart failure Sunday. He was 80.
A major influence on many of rock’s most notable guitarists including Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton and Keith Richards, Hubert Sumlin played lead guitar for Howlin’ Wolf from the early 1950s until Wolf died in 1976. Sumlin’s incredible playing on songs such as “Spoonful,” “Ain’t Superstitious” and “Wang Dang Doodle” not only helped put Wolf on the charts but also served as a “how-to” guide for up-and-coming guitarists wanting to play the blues.
Born in Mississippi, Sumlin headed for Chicago in the early ‘50s as part of the “great blues migration,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Rolling Stone ranked him 43rd on the magazine’s list of greatest guitarists.
Nominated for four Grammy Awards and a member of the Blues Foundation Hall Of Fame, and known for playing without a pick, Sumlin released more than a dozen albums under his own name. His last album, 2004’s About Them Shoes, included a guest appearance by Keith Richards.
“I love Hubert Sumlin,” Jimmy Page told Rolling Stone. “He always played the right thing at the right time.”