Howlin' Wolf

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Howlin' Wolf

Howlin' Wolf, 1910–76, African-American blues singer and composer, b. White Station, Miss., as Chester Arthur Burnett. Exposed to blues performers from childhood, he sang locally and organized his first band in West Memphis, Tenn., in 1948. Darkly expressive, his growling, raspy voice, accompanied by his slide guitar and harmonica, came to wider public attention with his first hit, “Moanin' at Midnight,” in 1951. Moving to Chicago, he and his friend and rival Muddy Waters became major figures in the transformation of the traditional acoustic Delta blues into the amplified, contemporary, and urban electric blues. For two decades (1955–75) he made concert tours across the United States. Like Waters, he was an important influence on the Rolling Stones, with whom he performed in the mid-1960s, and other British rockers.

Bibliography

See biography by J. Segrest and M. Hoffman (2004).

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Howlin’ Wolf (nickname of Chester Arthur Burnett)

(1910–76) musician; born in West Point, Miss. A blues singer, bandleader, and larger-than-life personality, he was one of the giants of post-World War II electric blues whose songs were a staple of rock's early repertoire. He toured extensively between 1955–75, including concert and television appearances with the Rolling Stones in 1965, the year after the release of his only pop hit, "Smokestack Lightning." He was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.