Our friend Ron Wells sent us an obituary for the great Hubert Sumlin (posted below). Hubert Sumlin was very instrumental in the genesis of our sound. In the mid-80’s, when we were jamming in the garage and trying to form an aesthetic and direction, Pete and I would often catch Hubert at a little dive of a club on the then desolate end of Queen Street West (I can’t even remember the name of the place). For some reason he came through town fairly often and would pick up a few of the local “blues” musicians and play two or three sets. There would rarely be more than 15 people in the audience, but Pete and I were always there. In-between sets Hubert would come in to the audience and personally thank anyone that was there and sit and talk. His playing was magical. No matter how clumsy and ham-fisted his back up band was, he was always effortless and fluid and endlessly inspired. At the time, Pete and I thought he was ancient (he was only a few years older than I am now) and that was a great inspiration. But the way he completely owned his sound, the way that his instrument was an extension of his personality was what truly thrilled us. He sounded like nobody and nobody sounded like him. We would go home and dig through our Howlin Wolf collection and sure enough, you could easily pick out Hubert in the groove, doing his thing. Bye, bye Mr Sumlin. Thanks for the inspiration.
Hubert Sumlin, Nov. 16, 1931 – Dec. 4, 2011.
Another one of the greatest guitar players to ever walk the planet has died. Listen to his playing on the album “Howlin’ Wolf,” also known as the Rockin’ Chair Album, and you will know everything there is to know about this man’s exceptional skills.
Early last year I saw him play with Pinetop Perkins in a show I’ll never forget. Sadly, both men are now gone. Here’s a brief part of my review from that show:
“Then, midway through the set, the room heated up when Hubert Sumlin walked on stage. Dressed in a black suit and tie, black hat, black shoes with a swatch of white, and with an American flag pin on his lapel, he was dressed to kill, and just as dangerous. His guitar strap had flames on it brought straight from the depths of hell and just as hot as his guitar playing, as he coaxed sounds out of his instrument that the other players just stood and marveled at. School was definitely in session, and Sittin’ on Top of the World was a revelation the way Mr. Sumlin played it.
Hell hath no fury to match a blues god who’s on fire, and so Sumlin sat down and showed how Little Red Rooster is supposed to be played. Then, suddenly, he stood up like struck with lightning, picked that guitar to pieces, and then sat back down. When he was done, he held out both hands, palms down, as if to say, ” ain’’t that the coolest.”
Yes, it was the coolest. R.I.P., Hubert Sumlin.
Come On Home, Baby