Bluesman Hubert Sumlin has died. He was 80 years old. The Chicago Sun Times reports that the Howlin' Wolf guitarist passed away on Sunday in a hospital in Wayne, New Jersey, of heart failure.
Sumlin — one of the most revered blues guitarists of the past half-century — was best-known as lead guitarist for Howlin' Wolf. He helped shaped the band's sound from 1953 until Wolf's death in 1976. He influenced several generations of musicians, including several rock giants, from Hendrix and Clapton to Richards and Page.
In the current issue of Rolling Stone, Sumlin ranked 43rd on the magazine's list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page told the magazine, “I love Hubert Sumlin. He always played the right thing at the right time.”
Below, watch Sumlin reminisce about Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters and perform in a guitar shop in this excerpt from the DVD Hubert Sumlin: Living the Blues.
Sumlin had been scheduled to appear at last summer's Chicago Blues Festival with David “Honeyboy” Edwards in a tribute to Robert Johnson, but that performance was canceled because of health issues. Edwards died at age 95 on Aug. 29.
Sumlin had a lung removed in 2004 and last year appeared at the Crossroads Guitar Festival with his oxygen tank. Earlier this year, The New York Times reported that Keith Richards — who was a guest on his 2005 Grammy-nomainted About Them Shoes — was assisting Sumlin with his medical bills.
No details on the funeral are available at this time.