One of the most electric performers who ever lived, at 6’3″ and 300 pounds, Howlin’ Wolf cut an imposing figure in the Memphis blues scene in the 1950’s. It was not only his gravelly voice, passionate harmonica playing or wild animal stage antics that made him the hottest act in town. He also used electric guitars in the band, and overdrove the amplifiers to create a sound that was so unique it still sounds modern today. The success he had in Memphis gave him the means to go to the Chicago blues scene, not on the train or walking like most bluesmen of the time, but in his own car, with 4000 dollars in his pocket.
Wolf came from a poor family in the country and never took his success for granted. He also never forgot his roots, the sounds from his childhood like the trains and the howl of the wolf became part of his trademark sound.
KEXP Documentaries are produced by Michele Myers, with assistance from Jentery Sayers, John Felthouse, Larry Starr and Excecutive Producer Kevin Cole. You can hear the rest of this series and all of our KEXP Documentaries here.