Chester Arthur Burnett

b. June 10th, 1910 in White Station (Mississippi)

d. January 10th, 1976 in Hines (Illinois)

THE MEMPHIS DAYS vol.1&2

Bear Family

May 1951 - October 1952

HOWLIN' WOLF SINGS THE BLUES

Crown

Ace

P-Vine

September 1951 - February 1952

CADILLAC BABY

Rounder

January - July 1952

HOWLIN' FOR MY BABY

Sun

Charly

Zafiro

December 1951 - October 1952

Né Chester Burnett, il n'a qu'un an lorsque ses parents se séparent. Plus tard, puisqu'il refuse de travailler dans les champs, sa mère Gertrude le jette dehors. Il rejoint brièvement son oncle Will Young qui maltraite le jeune garçon. A 13 ans, il s'enfuit, parcourant une centaine de kilomètres, pour rejoindre son père où il trouve enfin un foyer stable et heureux. En 1930, il rencontre Charley Patton avec lequel il se lie quelques temps. Patton lui apprend la guitare et à se produire devant un auditoire. Le jeune Chester est également influencé par les Mississippi Sheiks, Blind Lemon Jefferson et le chanteur de Country Jimmie Rodgers. Dans les années 30, il se produit dans les états du sud jouant guitare et harmonica (il apprend l'harmonica auprès de "Sonny Boy" Williamson et de sa soeur Mary). Entre avril 1941 et novembre 1943, il est à l'armée. A son retour à la vie civile, il retourne vivre dans la maison familiale de West Memphis. Ayant pris le surnom d'Howlin' Wolf, il forme son premier groupe en 1948 avec Willie Johnson, Pat Hare, Junior Parker et Willie Steel. La radio KWEM de West Memphis retransmet régulièrement leurs performances scéniques. D'ailleurs, le Wolf deviendra même disc-jockey sur cette radio. Dès mai 1951, le producteur Sam Phillips l'enregistre pour son Memphis Recording Service. Les titres seront, par la suite, revendus aux frères Bihari (pour leurs labels RPM, Flair et Modern) et aux frères Chess. Howlin' Wolf y met au point ce son caractéristique, compact et puissant avec des instruments parfois saturés dans une atmosphère énergique même bouillante. Sa voix forte, erraillée, menaçante influencera de nombreux bluesmen en particulier ce fameux hurlement (qu'il adapte, en fait, du célèbre yodel de Jimmie Rodgers). Jusqu'en octobre 1952, il enregistre pour le compte de Sam Phillips une oeuvre de premier plan remplie de titres sauvages et rugueux comme "Oh red", "Come back home", "California blues", "Smile at me", "My baby walked off", "Drinkin' CV wine", "My highway man (Cadillac daddy)", "Everybody's in the mood", "Decoration day", "Moanin' at midnight".

Born Chester Burnett, he was only one year old when his parents separated. Later, since he refuses to work in the fields, his mother Gertrude throws him out. He briefly joins his uncle Will Young who mistreats the young boy. At 13, he fled, traveling a hundred kilometers, to rejoin his father where he finally found a stable and happy home. In 1930, he met Charley Patton with whom he binds himself for some time. Patton taught him the guitar and performing before an audience. The young Chester is also influenced by the Mississippi Sheiks, Blind Lemon Jefferson and country singer Jimmie Rodgers. In the thirties, he performed in the southern states playing guitar and harmonica (he learned the harmonica from "Sonny Boy" Williamson and his sister Mary). Between april 1941 and november 1943, he was in the army. On his return to civilian life, he returned to live in the family home in West Memphis. He took the nickname Howlin' Wolf and formed his first band in 1948 with Willie Johnson, Pat Hare, Junior Parker and Willie Steel. West Memphis' KWEM regularly broadcasts their stage performances. Moreover, the Wolf will even become disc-jockey on this radio. In may 1951, producer Sam Phillips recorded him for his Memphis Recording Service. The titles were subsequently sold to the Bihari brothers (for their labels RPM, Flair and Modern) and the Chess brothers. Howlin' Wolf develops this characteristic sound, powerful and compact with sometimes saturated instruments in an energetic even boiling atmosphere. His strong and raucous threatening voice will influence many bluesmen in particular this famous howl (which he actually adapts Jimmie Rodgers' famous yodel). Until october 1952, he recorded for Sam Phillips a great work full of wild and rough tracks like "Oh red", "Come back home", "California blues", "Smile at me", "My baby walked off","Drinkin' CV wine", "My highway man (Cadillac daddy)", "Everybody's in the mood", "Decoration day", "Moanin' at midnight".

MOANIN' IN THE MOONLIGHT

Chess - MCA

Marble Arch

EVIL

Chess

July 1951 - September 1958

Vers 1952-53, Howlin' Wolf signe un contrat avec le label Chess et s'installe à Chicago. Chez Chess, il travaille sous la supervision du producteur-compositeur Willie Dixon et grave une belle série de chefs d'oeuvre - aujourd'hui des classiques du blues - comme "Smokestack lightnin'", "Baby how long", "All night boogie", "Evil", "Moanin' for my baby". Ceux-ci, issus de diverses séances, comptent les participations de musiciens prestigieux : Willie Dixon, Otis Spann, Jody Williams, Earl Phillips, Otis "Smokey" Smothers. Mais, surtout, à partir de mai 1954, c'est le guitariste Hubert Sumlin remplace Willie Johnson. Ce superbe musicien - guitariste fin et agile - aura une influence énorme sur la musique du Wolf jusqu'à la fin de sa carrière.

Around 1952-53, Howlin' Wolf signed a recording contract with the Chess label and moved to Chicago. At Chess, he worked under the supervision of producer-composer Willie Dixon and cut a beautiful series of masterpieces - today blues classics - such as "Smokestack lightnin'", "Baby how long", "All night boogie", "Evil", "Moanin' for my baby". They are composed of musicians such as Willie Dixon, Otis Spann, Jody Williams, Earl Phillips and Otis "Smokey" Smothers. But, especially, from may 1954, the guitarist Hubert Sumlin replaces Willie Johnson. This superb musician - a fine and agile guitarist - will have a tremendous influence on Wolf music until the end of his career.

MORE REAL FOLK BLUES

Chess - MCA

Vogue

1953 - January 1956

Focalisé sur les premières années d'Howlin' Wolf chez Chess, notamment les séances de 1953 et 1954 (les dernières avec Willie Johnson à la guitare, les premières avec Hubert Sumlin), ce "More real folk blues" représente les derniers moments à Memphis et les premiers à Chicago. Durant cette période, de nombreuses pistes remarquables ont vu le jour : "I've got a woman", "I'll be around", "You can't be beat", "Rockin' daddy", "I have a little girl".

Focused on the early years of Howlin' Wolf at Chess, most notably the 1953 and 1954 sessions (the last with Willie Johnson on guitar, the first with Hubert Sumlin), this "More real folk blues" represents his last moments in Memphis and the first in Chicago. During this period, many remarkable tracks were born : "I've got a woman", "I'll be around", "You can't be beat", "Rockin' daddy", "I have a little girl".

THE REAL FOLK BLUES

Chess - MCA

POOR BOY

Chess - MCA

July 1956 - April 1965

Ce microsillon resté fameux offre un panorama d'une large période comprise entre 1956 et 1965. Cette période reste comme l'une des plus fécondes de la carrière d'Howlin' Wolf : sauvagerie, puissance, voix menaçante du Wolf, guitare précise et créative d'Hubert Sumlin. Tous les titres méritent l'attention comme "Poor boy" ou "The Natchez burning". Avec une influence Rhythm & Blues, il faut absolument signaler les séances d'août 1963 et août 1964 avec section cuivres (J.T. Brown, Donald Hankins, Arnold Rogers) et un band de premier ordre (Lafayette Leake, Hubert Sumlin, Buddy Guy, Andrew Palmer, Sam Lay) qui débouchent sur d'autres pistes fantastiques : "Killing floor", "Louise", "My country sugar mama", "Three hundred pounds of joy". Enfin, on peut noter le superbe "Ooh baby hold me" qui symbolise l'arrivée du saxophoniste Eddie Shaw qui deviendra par la suite son compositeur et chef d'orchestre.

This famous LP offers an overview of a large period between 1956 and 1965. This period remains as one of the most fertile of the career of Howlin' Wolf : wild, power, threatening voice of the Wolf, precise and creative guitar of Hubert Sumlin. All titles deserve attention like "Poor boy" or "The Natchez burning". With Rhythm & Blues influence, we must mention august 1963 and august 1964 sessions with a horn section (J.T. Brown, Donald Hankins, Arnold Rogers) and a first-rate band (Lafayette Leake, Hubert Sumlin, Buddy Guy, Andrew Palmer, Sam Lay) which lead to fantastic tracks : "Killing floor", "Louise", "My country sugar mama", "Three hundred pounds of joy". Finally, we can note the superb "Ooh baby hold me" which symbolizes the arrival of the saxophonist Eddie Shaw who will later become his composer and bandleader.

HOWLIN' WOLF

Chess - MCA

June 1957 - December 1961

A l'instar de "The real folk blues", cet album resté fameux (qu'on surnomme parfois "The rockin' chair album") reprend l'une des périodes les plus créatives du Wolf. Il y a ici de nombreux grands classiques qui figurent parmi ses meilleurs réussites : "The red rooster", "Who's been talkin'", "Wang dang doodle", "Spoonful", "Going down slow" (avec Willie Dixon), "Back door man". Certains de ces morceaux étant encore joués aujourd'hui.

Following the example of "The real folk blues", this album remains famous (sometimes called "The rockin' album album") compiles one of the most creative period of the Wolf. There are many great classics here which rank amongst his best achievements : "The red rooster", "Who's been talkin'", "Wang dang doodle", "Spoonful", "Going down slow" (with Willie Dixon), "Back door man". Some of these songs are still played today.

FOLK FESTIVAL OF THE BLUES

Argo

Pye

Chess

P-Vine

July 1963

Performance d'Howlin' Wolf au Copa Cabana de Chicago en juillet 1963 parue chez Argo (un label appartenant à Chess). Derrière le Wolf, un groupe composé de Jarrett Gibson (saxophone), Donald Hankins (saxophone), Otis Spann (piano), Buddy Guy (guitare), Jack Meyers (basse), Fred Below (batterie). Sur cette anthologie, Wolf interprète deux morceaux : "Sugar mama" et "May I have a talk with you". Qualité sonore correcte.

Performance of Howlin' Wolf at the Copa Cabana in Chicago in july 1963 published by Argo (a Chess' imprint). Behind the Wolf, a band composed of Jarrett Gibson (saxophone), Donald Hankins (saxophone), Otis Spann (piano), Buddy Guy (guitar), Jack Meyers (bass), Fred Below (drums). On this anthology, Wolf interprets two tracks : "Sugar mama" and "May I have a talk with you". Decent sound quality.

THE AMERICAN FOLK BLUES FESTIVAL 1962 - 1966 vol.1

Hip-O

September 1964

Howlin' Wolf participe à la tournée de l'American Folk Blues Festival '64 en compagnie de Sunnyland Slim, Hubert Sumlin, Willie Dixon et Clifton James. Ici, on trouve deux pistes du Wolf : "Shake for me" et le superbe "Love me darlin'" (avec un magnifique solo de guitare d'Hubert Sumlin).

Howlin' Wolf takes part in the American Folk Blues Festival '64 tour with Sunnyland Slim, Hubert Sumlin, Willie Dixon and Clifton James. We find here two tracks of Wolf : "Shake for me" and the superb "Love me darlin'" (with a magnificent guitar solo by Hubert Sumlin).

THE AMERICAN FOLK BLUES FESTIVAL 1962 - 1969 vol.2

Hip-O

September 1964

AMERICAN FOLK BLUES FESTIVAL '64

Fontana

October 1964

Sur ce recueil, il y a un morceau d'Howlin' Wolf : une version sauvage de "Dust my broom".

On this compilation, there is one track sung by Howlin' Wolf : a wild version of "Dust my broom".

LIVE IN EUROPE

Sundown

SMOKESTACK LIGHTNING

TKO

ROCKIN' THE BLUES

Acrobat

November 1964

Gravé pendant la tournée de l'American Folk Blues Festival '64 lors du concert de Brême (Allemagne). Ces bandes live ont été éditées sous quantité d'habillages différents. On y trouve une très jolie version de "Love me" mais aussi "I didn't mean to hurt your feelings", "Rockin' the blues", "Howlin' for my darlin'" ou "Going down slow". Un bon témoignage scénique du Wolf avec une qualité sonore satisfaisante.

Cut during the American Folk Blues Festival '64 tour at the Bremen concert (Germany). These live tapes were edited under a variety of different packagings. There is a very nice version of "Love me" but also "I didn't mean to hurt your feelings", "Rockin' the blues", "Howlin' for my darlin'" or "Going down slow". A good Wolf live performance with a decent sound quality.

KILLING FLOOR LIVE 1964 - 1973

Rockbeat

November 1964 / August 1973

Ce double CD, proposé par Rockbeat, compile deux concerts distincts. Selon le livret, le premier CD reprend le concert de Wiesbaden lors de l'American Folk Blues Festival '64. Mais, il s'agit d'une erreur car c'est en fait le concert de Brême qu'on entend ici. Doté d'une mauvaise qualité sonore, il vaut mieux écouter "Live in Europe" ou "Rockin' the blues" - reprenant le même concert - bien plus aboutis techniquement. Le second CD est la reprise d'une bande pirate captée à Denver en 1973. Cette fois, la qualité sonore est excellente. Eddie Shaw et Detroit Junior se partagent le chant sur la première partie avant d'être rejoints par Howlin' Wolf (qui chante effectivement sur 4 morceaux seulement).

This double CD, proposed by Rockbeat, compiles two distinct concerts. According to the booklet, the first CD compiles Wiesbaden's concert during the American Folk Blues Festival '64. But, this is a mistake because it is actually the Bremen concert we can hear here. Due to a bad sound quality, it is better to listen to "Live in Europe" or "Rockin' the blues" - relating the same concert - much more technically accomplished. The second CD is an edition of bootleg tapes captured in Denver in 1973. This time, the sound quality is excellent. Eddie Shaw and Detroit Junior share singing duties on the first part before being joined by Howlin' Wolf (who actually sings only 4 tracks).

LOST & FOUND vol.3

CST

November 1964

A la fin de la tournée de l'American Folk Blues Festival '64, Howlin' Wolf monte sur scène à Londres en compagnie de l'orchestre du jazzman Chris Barber. Un accompagnement atypique mais plutôt efficace.

At the end of the American Folk Blues Festival '64 tour, Howlin' Wolf performs on stage in London with the Chris Barber's jazz orchestra. An atypical but rather effective accompaniment.

LIVE IN CAMBRIDGE

Fan Club

New Rose

1966

La qualité sonore est terriblement mauvaise et gâche totalement l'écoute de ce concert. Vraiment dommage que des disques d'une qualité si pitoyable soient édités.

The sound quality is terribly bad and totally spoils this concert. What a shame that records of such a pitiful quality are edited.

ALAN LOMAX BLUES SONGBOOK

Rounder

August 1966

THE SUPER SUPER BLUES BAND

Checker

Chess - MCA

THE SUPER BLUES SESSION

Bellaphon

September 1967

Sous la supervision de Willie Dixon et Marshall Chess, il s'agit donc d'une jam-session de trois grands artistes (Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Howlin' Wolf) appartenant au label Chess, suite de "Super blues", dans laquelle Howlin' Wolf remplace Little Walter. Leur Blues se teinte de sons psychédéliques (les cris récurrents des choristes sont pénibles) et certains moments sont un peu confus ("Diddley daddy"). Les trois bluesmen se partagent les parties chantées dans une sorte de longue jam-session sans ligne directrice.

Under the supervision of Willie Dixon and Marshall Chess, this is a jam-session of three great artists (Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Howlin' Wolf) belonging to Chess label, sequel to "Super blues", in which Howlin' Wolf replaces Little Walter. Their blues are tinged with psychedelic sounds (the recurring screams of backing singers are painful) and some moments are a little confused ("Diddley daddy"). The three bluesmen share singing parts in a kind of long jam-session with no guideline.

THE HOWLIN' WOLF ALBUM

Cadet Concept

November 1968

Essayant de coller aux modes du moment, cet album mélange le blues d'Howlin' Wolf aux sonorités du rock psychédélique et du free-jazz. La célèbre pochette montrant le désaccord du bluesman est restée fameuse. Production de Marshall Chess, Charles Stepney et Gene Barge pour Cadet Concept (un label appartenant à Chess). Rien ne fonctionne vraiment dans cet album : arrangements lourds et pénibles, inspiration en berne, guitares saturées bourrées d'effets, flûte, disparition des mélodies originales.

Trying to stick to the musical fashions of the moment, this album mixes Howlin' Wolf blues to the sounds of psychedelic rock and free jazz. The famous cover showing the bluesman's disagreement remained famous. Production of Marshall Chess, Charles Stepney and Gene Barge for Cadet Concept (a label belonging to Chess). Nothing really works in this album : heavy and painful arrangements, no inspiration, saturated and full of effects guitars, flute, disappearance of the original melodies.

THE LONDON HOWLIN' WOLF SESSIONS

Chess - MCA

MUDDY & THE WOLF

Chess - MCA

May 1970

Chess décide de rassembler à Londres, Howlin' Wolf (malgré une santé déjà chancelante) et de jeunes artistes anglais qui l'adorent comme Eric Clapton, Stevie Winwood, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, Ringo Starr, Ian Stewart. Produit par Norman Dayron, le programme offre des relectures intéressantes de quelques standards du Wolf : "Rockin' daddy", "Worried about my baby", "Built for comfort", "Who's been talking". On note une très jolie illustration de couverture de Don Wilson. Il existe une version allongée avec prises alternatives, répétitions et inédits.

Chess decides to gather in London, Howlin' Wolf (despite an already shaky health) and young english artists who adore him like Eric Clapton, Stevie Winwood, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, Ringo Starr, Ian Stewart. Produced by Norman Dayron, the program offers interesting covers of some Wolf standards : "Rockin' daddy", "Worried about my baby", "Built for comfort", "Who's been talking". There is a very nice cover illustration by Don Wilson. There is an extended version with alternate takes, rehearsals and unissued titles.

MESSAGE TO THE YOUNG

Chess - MCA

September 1970

Placé cette fois sous la supervision des producteurs Cash Mac Call et Sonny Thompson, Howlin' Wolf est désormais uniquement chanteur. L'album s'inscrit dans le sillage du mauvais "The Howlin' Wolf album" avec guitares stridentes et arrangements épais.

Placed this time under the supervision of producers Cash Mac Call and Sonny Thompson, Howlin' Wolf is now only singer. The album is in the wake of the bad "The Howlin' Wolf album" with strident guitars and thick arrangements.

LIVE AND COOKIN' AT ALICE'S REVISITED

Chess - MCA

January 1972

Même si Howlin' Wolf est déjà diminué par des problèmes cardiaques, il se montre en bonne forme dans ce concert chicagoan accompagné par Eddie Shaw, Hubert Sumlin, Sunnyland Slim, Dave Myers et Fred Below. "I didn't know", "I had a dream", "Don't laugh at me", "Mr Airplane man" figurent parmi les meilleurs moments.

Even though Howlin' Wolf is already diminished by heart problems, he is in good shape in this chicagoan concert accompanied by Eddie Shaw, Hubert Sumlin, Sunnyland Slim, Dave Myers and Fred Below. "I didn't know", "I had a dream", "Don't laugh at me", "Mr Airplane man" are among the best moments.

ANN ARBOR BLUES FESTIVAL '72

Atlantic

September 1972

A la fin de sa carrière, le Wolf apparait au prestigieux festival d'Ann Arbor. Sur ce recueil, il interprète "Highway 49".

At the end of his career, the Wolf appeared at the prestigious Ann Arbor Festival. On this compilation, he plays "Highway 49".

LIVE AT JOE'S PLACE

Wolf

May 1973

Le programme s'écoute avec plaisir malgré un certain manque d'originalité. Ces bandes live possèdent une qualité sonore correcte. Il faut signaler que le Wolf laisse souvent le chant à ses musiciens (Eddie Shaw, Detroit Junior, Andrew Mac Mahon).

The program can be listened with pleasure despite a certain lack of originality. These live tapes have a good sound quality. It should be noted that the Wolf often leaves singing duties to his musicians (Eddie Shaw, Detroit Junior, Andrew Mac Mahon).

BACK DOOR WOLF

Chess - MCA

August 1973

Ce dernier album studio d'Howlin' Wolf est produit par Ralph Bass. Il bénéficie des excellentes compositions d'Eddie Shaw ("Coon on the moon" et son texte anti-raciste, "Leave here walking", "Watergate blues") et de Detroit Junior ("You turn slick on me"). Un titre supplémentaire sur la version CD (une version alternative rugueuse de "Speak now woman").

This last studio album of Howlin' Wolf is produced by Ralph Bass. There are some excellent compositions of Eddie Shaw ("Coon on the moon" and his anti-racist text, "Leave here walking", "Watergate blues") and Detroit Junior ("You turn slick on me"). An additional title on the CD version (a rough alternative version of "Speak now woman").

LIVE 1975

Wolf

July 1975