Archive for Chester Burnett

Happy Birthday, Howlin’ Wolf!

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , on June 9, 2010 by 30daysout

Today (June 10) is the birthday of Chester Arthur Burnett, best known as the Chicago blues singer Howlin’ Wolf.  He was born in 1910, and this would be his 100th birthday.  Howlin’ Wolf is one of the greatest artists of American music, and certainly one of the two absolute giants of blues.  (The other would be, of course, Muddy Waters.)

Wolf kept one foot (size 16 extra wide) in Chicago blues and another in the fertile South.  He got his start recording at Sun studios for the legendary Sam Phillips, and after he migrated north to Chicago in the early 1950s Wolf did his howling under the Chess Records imprint.

Howlin’ Wolf’s influence on rock and roll is profound – his 1962 album Howlin’ Wolf (the “rocking chair” album, because there’s a rocking chair on the cover), with classics “Wang Dang Doodle,” “Little Red Rooster” and “Spoonful,”covered by literally hundreds of rockers, is one of the greatest albums ever made.

When Chess set up a 1971 session in London, the Wolf attracted as sidemen no less than Eric Clapton, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, Steve Winwood, Klaus Voormann and Ringo Starr.  The version of “Wang Dang Doodle” included here is from those London sessions.

There are so many songs we could choose, hope these will help you blow out 100 candles.  Howl on, Wolf!

MP3: “I’m The Wolf”

MP3: “Moving”

MP3: “Built For Comfort”

MP3: “Coon On The Moon”

MP3: “Hidden Charms”

MP3: “Tail Dragger” (1968)

MP3: “Highway 49”

MP3: “Howlin’ For My Darling”

MP3: “The Back Door Wolf”

MP3: “Evil” (1968)

MP3: “Baby Ride With Me Tonight (Ridin’ In The Moonlight)”

MP3: “Wang Dang Doodle” (London sessions)

MP3: “Back Door Man” (1961)

MP3: “The Watergate Blues”

MP3: “Three Hundred Pounds Of Joy”

MP3: “Spoonful”

MP3: “Smokestack Lightnin'” (1956)

MP3: “Back Door Man” (1968)

Howlin’ Wolf Home Page

Lost Classics! “The Back Door Wolf”

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , on June 8, 2009 by 30daysout

Howlin' Wolf - Front

Blues great Howlin’ Wolf revealed himself to be a somewhat bitter and angry fellow with The Back Door Wolf, released on Chess Records in 1973.  The Wolf, real name Chester Burnett, was incredibly popular in the late 1950s and early 1960s – his 1962 album Howlin’ Wolf (the “rocking chair” album, because there’s a rocking chair on the cover), with classics-to-be “Wang Dang Doodle,” “Little Red Rooster” and “Spoonful,” was his biggest hit and one of the greatest albums ever made.

But by the late 1960s-early 1970s Howlin’ Wolf wasn’t as popular and the big shots at Chess kept trying to find ways to keep their artists current (and selling records).  The Back Door Wolf as a result features some “topical” songs of the day written by the Wolf his own bad self.  “Coon On The Moon” speaks to the prejudice still evident in the time and with the lyrics “You gonna wake up one morning/And a coon is gonna be President” he sarcastically predicted the election of the nation’s first black President 35 years later.

Later in “The Watergate Blues,” Wolf celebrates the black security guard who found a little piece of tape on a door and started into motion a series of events that brought down that era’s president.  The lyrics of these topical songs are rooted in a particular time but they’re still listenable today for their passion and fury. 

Wolf is supported by the great Hubert Sumlin on guitar, but Detroit Junior’s use of the harpsichord on some of the songs is a little odd.  And Wolf himself plays a mean harmonica.  The Back Door Wolf turned out to be Howlin’ Wolf’s final studio album; he died in 1976. 

MP3: “Coon On The Moon”

MP3: “The Back Door Wolf”

MP3: “Moving”

MP3: “The Watergate Blues”

Howlin’ Wolf Home Page