Howlin 'Wolf , by his real name Chester Arthur Burnett , born June 10, 1910 in White Station, near West Point, Mississippi and died January 10, 1976 in Hines in Illinois, is an American blues musician.
He has known nicknames in his youth like Big Foot or Bull Cow, linked to his size and his massive body. Indeed, he was wearing 53 and measuring 1.92 m for 124 kg.
Chester Arthur Burnett was born June 10, 1910 in White Station (in ) near West Point, Mississippi, Dock and Gertrude Burnett, who had five more children. From an early age, he often sings in the Aberdeen Baptist Church. His name comes from Chester Alan Arthur, 21> President of the United States. As he refuses to help his family on the farm, he is chased out of the house by his mother, to be entrusted to one of his uncles. Chester is ill-treated by this uncle, and at thirteen he runs away to join his father at Ruleville. There, both work in a plantation> as well as Drew and
Doddsville (en) . Chester helps his father take care of the cotton or maize plantations. A little before his eighteen years, he meets Charley Patton who works in a neighboring plantation and introduces him to the guitar >>>. From then on, he attended many bluesmen in the 1920s and 1930s, such as Dick Bankston, Nathan Scott and Jim Holloway, and he listened to records by Blind Lemon Jefferson. It was during this period that he took the nickname Howlin 'Wolf, after being also nicknamed Bull Cow or Foot >. He explains himself about the origins of his stage name, which means Laughing Howling: "This name is inspired by my grandfather, who often told me stories of wolves in this part from the country. He warned me that wolves would catch me if I was not wise. " During the 1930s, he also learned the harmonica from Sonny Boy Williamson II, the husband of his half-sister, and traveled with other blues musicians such as Robert Johnson, Johnny Shines, Honeyboy Edwards, Robert Junior Lockwood and Son House>. It was at the same time that he married for the first time with Willie Brown's sister. He will remarry later with Lillie Handley, with whom he will remain until his death. In 1941, he was called up, but remained stationed in Seattle, where he often played for the soldiers, although that did not enchant him. After the war, he returned to work in the fields, finally deciding to devote himself to music and form his own group.
He soon left the Mississippi for Arkansas, where he became a DJ of a local radio, KWEM, in West Memphis, from 1948. There he recruited group members, named The Houserockers :
Willie Johnson (en) on guitar, Bill Johnson on piano and Willie Steele to percussion>. Next will be the harmonicists Little Junior Parker and James Cotton, as well as the guitarists Matt Murphy and Pat Hare (in) . Burnett took the opportunity to give up the traditional guitar for the benefit of the electric guitar. His group plays most often in secret bars or brothels>. In 1951, he was spotted by Ike Turner who introduced him to Sam Phillips, director of the Sun Records label, allowing Howlin 'Wolf to record his first song Moanin 'at Midnight , with Ike Turner on piano>. This disc will be followed by some others, such as How Many More Years (still with Turner on piano), still at Sun, although it's Chess Records distributing this label>. Moanin 'at Midnight and How Many More Years will be successful and will rank in the US rhythm and blues hits. At the end of 1952, he moved to Chicago. As of that date, he recorded many titles for Chess, including Evil and I'm the Wolf in 1954, Smokestack Lightning in 1956, Sittin 'on Top of the World in 1957 >>>. Willie Dixon, composer and arranger of Chess, wrote to him