Blues guitarist Hubert Sumlin dead at 80

Dec. 6, 2011 at 8:17 PM
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WAYNE, N.J., Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Famed blues guitarist Hubert Sumlin has died of heart failure in Wayne, N.J., his agent said. He was 80.

The Chicago Tribune confirmed his Sunday death, but did not report the circumstances of it.

Sumlin is best known for his work with Chester Arthur Burnett, known as Howlin' Wolf, from the early 1950s until Burnett's death in 1976.

"He's the one that shaped that Howlin' Wolf sound," Chicago musician Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater told the Tribune. "On tunes like 'Shake for Me' and 'Smokestack Lightning' -- that was the Howlin' Wolf sound, and Hubert's guitar made it."

The New York Times noted musicians Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Robbie Robertson and Eric Clapton have all credited Sumlin as an influence on their own music.

The Mississippi native and multiple Grammy Award nominee worked as a bandleader and vocalist, as well. His last gig was in October at the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Ark., his agent, Hugh Southard, told the Tribune.

The Times said Sumlin was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 2008. The newspaper also noted Rolling Stone magazine recently mentioned him on a roster of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.

Southard said Sumlin will be buried next to his wife Willie B. "Bea" Reed Sumlin in Washington Memory Gardens Cemetery, in Homewood, Ill., the Tribune said. Bea died in 1999.

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