Hubert Sumlin (born November 16, 1931) is an American blues guitarist and singer, best known for his celebrated work, from 1955, as guitarist in Howlin' Wolf's band. His singular playing is characterized by "wrenched, shattering bursts of notes, sudden cliff-hanger silences and daring rhythmic suspensions". Listed in Rolling Stone's The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Sumlin continues to tour and play blues guitar. He is cited as a major influence by many artists, including Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Robbie Robertson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmy Page, and Jimi Hendrix.
Born in Greenwood, Mississippi, Sumlin was raised in Hughes, Arkansas. When he was eight years old, he got his first guitar. As a boy, Sumlin first met Howlin' Wolf (Chester Burnett) by sneaking into a performance. When Burnett relocated from Memphis to Chicago in 1953, his long-time guitarist Willie Johnson chose not to join him. Upon his arrival in Chicago, Wolf first hired Chicago guitarist Jody Williams, and in 1954 Wolf invited Sumlin to relocate to Chicago to play second guitar in his Chicago-based band. Williams left the band in 1955, leaving Sumlin as the primary guitarist in Wolf's band, a position he held almost continuously (except for a brief spell playing with Muddy Waters c. 1956) for the remainder of Wolf's career. Upon Wolf's death in 1976, Sumlin continued on with several other members of the late Burnett's band under the name "The Wolf Pack" until c. 1980. Sumlin has also recorded under his own name, beginning with a session recorded while touring Europe with Burnett in 1964. His latest effort is About Them Shoes, released in 2005 by Tone Cool Records. He underwent lung removal surgery in 2004 but is still going strong as of 2008.
Early influences that affected Hubert Sumlin's style of play at a young age have been cited by him as, primarily, Muddy Waters, Charley Patton, Robert Lockwood, Jr. and Robert Johnson.