- RIP Hubert Sumlin - November 16, 1931 to December 4, 2011. Best known for his extraordinary guitar work on the 1950s and 1960s recordings of Howlin' Wolf, Hubert Sumlin is considered among the greatest guitarists of all time. Hubert passed away of a heart attack on Sunday, Dec 4 after a long bout with respiratory illness. He was 80 years old. Though his health had been problematic for years, he continued to tour and delight concert and festival audiences until close to the end. Born in Greenville, Mississippi in 1931 and raised in Hughes, Arkansas, Hubert got his first guitar at age 6. Hubert was very interested in music and as a boy snuck into a nightclub to see Howlin' Wolf perform. Hubert's youthful enthusiasm won Wolf's heart, who took the young boy in and developed a father-like mentoring role with Hubert. Wolf would move to Chicago in 1953 and a year later would call for Hubert to move to Chicago to join his band. Initially Hubert played a secondary role in the group with guitarist Jody Williams getting most of the limelight. But when Jody left the band about 2 years later, Hubert became the star guitarist. Hubert's unorthodox approach, using innovative rhythmic textural lines and wild bursts of lead guitar, became an integral part of the Howlin' Wolf sound., Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters reportedly had a rivalry going as to who had the top blues band in Chicago (both were amazing bands) and for a short period of time Muddy recruited Hubert away from Wolf only to have Hubert return to Wolf's band and never leave again. Hubert's guitar was an essential and consistent part of the success of Wolf's recordings and live shows. The music achieved by the Wolf / Sumlin combination reached the highest of heights in the blues. When Howlin' Wolf recorded the London Sessions in 1970, Hubert began a life long relationship with UK blues artists like Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones. In 1976, when Wolf died, Hubert was devastated. At first Eddie Shaw (Wolf's saxophonist) tried to keep the Howlin' Wolf band together but Hubert would drift: spending time in Austin, Texas under the care of Clifford Antone, or in Chicago where he stayed with Sunnyland Slim. In addition to recordings with Wolf, Hubert appeared on Chicago sessions with Eddie Shaw & The Wolf Gang, Andrew McMahon, Sunnyland Slim, Louisiana Red, Carey Bell, Little Eddie, Big Mac, and others. He recorded numerous albums under his own name for L+R, Black Top, Tone-Cool, Rykodisc, APO, JSP, Blind Pig, Blues Planet, Blues Special and other labels. At a point, under the guidance of manager Toni Ann Mamary, Hubert started to get his due as the guitar legend he was. Hubert found himself hanging around and performing with rock stars, playing major festivals, and having his historic bio, Incurable Blues, published. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2008, Through all this notoriety, Hubert remained the kind, gentle soul with the same boyish enthusiasm that first befriended the Howlin' Wolf. His guitar playing was always intriguing, unorthodox, and impossible to copy. As he was bedridden and nearing the last hours of his life, his final request was to play his guitar one last time. We thank Hubert for the light of joy he shined on the world and the heavenly music that he left for future generations to behold. He was our blues blessing. Special thanks to Hugh Southard of Blue Mountain Artists, Bob Margolin, and Little Frank who worked with him frequently on the road in recent years, Pat Morgan, James Cotton, Paul Oscher, Kim Wilson, Amanda Taylor, Diunna Greenleaf, Twist Turner, Little Mike, and all his friends and fans who all were there at all times to support Hubert.
Totowa, NJ 07512 Phone: (973) 790-8686 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (973) 790-8686 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
- RIP Paul Thomas - August 27, 1955 to November 20, 2011. Paul Thomas is best known as Phoenix's blues and roots, stand-up bass master. Though not a well known name outside of the Phoenix community, chances are that you have heard some of the celebrated recordings that he played on. Paul Thomas passed away from a reported fatal combination of alcohol and pain relievers while visiting his hometown of Tucson. He was 56. Paul had moved to Phoenix in the mid 1980s and worked in numerous Arizona-based blues and roots units including The Hoodoo Kings, The Rhythm Room All-Stars, Chico Chism, Pat Roberts & The Heymakers, The Jump Back Brothers, Midnite Blues, The Rocket 88s and many others. He also had worked occasionally in bands with Junior Watson, Lynwood Slim, and Rusty Zynn. As a member of the Rhythm Room All-Stars, Paul was called upon to back many of the great blues masters live and in the studio. Paul's great bass work can be heard on nationally released CDs by Henry Gray, Mojo Buford, Pinetop Perkins, Louisiana Red, Bob Corritore, Big Pete Pearson, Chief Schabuttie Gilliame, The Hoodoo Kings and more. He was best known for his stand-up bass work in which he had championed all of the old school nuances of the instrument. He was inducted into the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame in 1999 . Paul simply loved to play bass and brought joy, humor and masterful bass playing to the bandstand each night. His absence leaves a unfillable gap in the Phoenix blues and roots scene. Paul leaves his legacy with his 20 year old son Dylan Thomas, a fine young man and a full-time professional bassist. Thank you Paul for your many years of great contributions to the Phoenix music scene. You will be greatly missed.
- RIP Howard Tate - August 13, 1939 to December 2, 2011 The influential soul singer Howard Tate was best known for soul hits like "Ain't Nobody Home" and "Get It While You Can", with the later covered and re-popularized by Janis Joplin. Tate died in his New Jersey apartment of natural causes at age 72. Born in Macon, Georgia and raised in Philadelphia, Tate came into prominence in the late 1960s through the 1970s with his brilliant collaborations with producer / songwriter Jerry Ragavoy. The recordings from this period are considered among the greatest examples of soul music ever recorded. After a tragic decline into drug addiction and homelessness during the 1980s, Howard Tate was able to pull himself together to experience a brilliant comeback with the Ragavoy produced 2003 release "Rediscovered", which was nominated for a Grammy for best contemporary blues album. The later part of his career saw many well-received festival and concert appearances and additional great recordings to add to his historic legacy. He will be fondly remembered for his blues-drenched voice complete with brilliant bursts of falsetto. That voice always sold the message of the song. To hear Howard Tate singing the original version of "Get It While You Can" click http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9PawalWXUk
- RIP J Blackfoot - November 20, 1946 to November 30, 2011 Soul singer J Blackfoot is best known for his work in the 1970s as lead singer with the group The Soul Children and his 1983 hit "Taxi." He died at age 73 after a year long battle with pancreatic cancer. Born John Colbert in Greenville, Mississippi and raised in Memphis, he received his moniker as a child from frequently walking barefoot. Musical prominence came when Stax producer / songwriter David Porter recruited Blackfoot, together with Norman West, Anita Louis, and Shelbra Bennett, to form The Soul Children. Between 1968 and 1978, The Soul Children had 15 chart hits and recorded seven well-received albums. Blackfoot later recorded a number of sides under his own name and in 1983 made a hit with the ballad "Taxi". He remained an active recording artist until the end and was a very popular concert attraction in the south and in Japan and Europe. J Blackfoot's sweet voice will live on in soul music history through his legacy of fine recordings.