Howlin’ Wolf Photography

Howlin’ Wolf

Born in Mississippi but best known after settling in Chicago, Chester Burnett (a.k.a. Howlin’ Wolf) is one of the world’s most beloved bluesmen. The singer/guitarist/harmonica player built a regional following in the 1930s and ’40s on a southern club circuit, but it wasn’t until the early ’50s that he earned widespread notoriety after recording with Sam Phillips.

In 1952, Burnett relocated to the Windy City, signed with Chess Records and kicked off a widely acclaimed career that steadily continued through the late ’60s. Along the way, songs such as “Back Door Man,” “Killing Floor,” “Spoonful” and “Smokestack Lightnin’” became blues and rock standards.

Though Burnett passed away at 65 in 1976, he was posthumously inducted into both the Grammy and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame, as well as ranking #51 on Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 Greatest Artists of All Time.” Fellow icons the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton have shaped portions of their musical foundations on his unmistakable licks, and his influence continues to rub off on practically every modern-day guitar god.

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