Hubert Sumlin, famed electric blues guitarist and singer died Sunday of heart failure at the age of 80, reports Rolling Stone Magazine.
Sumlin was a longtime collaborator with fellow Blues legend, Howlin' Wolf, whose unique playing on such songs as "Wang Dang Doodle," "Spoonful" and "Back Door Man" influenced generations of guitarists.
In a statement released by his manager, Toni Ann Mamary, on Sumlin’s website (hubersumlinblues.com) it reads: “Our dear friends… It is with a heavy heart that the worse has come to fruition. My little Hubert is living the life of a real angel. I’m overwhelmed with grief and so I really need to pull myself together. I’d really appreciate it if you would kindly respect our privacy during this most difficult time.”
Sumlin’s singular playing was characterized by "wrenched, shattering bursts of notes, sudden cliff-hanger silences and daring rhythmic suspensions,” which led him to be listed as number 43 in the Rolling Stone 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.
He was also nominated for four Grammy awards and was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 2008.
According to Rolling Stone, “Sumlin, who played his beloved 1955 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop guitar without a pick, was a key inspiration for Keith Richards (who reportedly helped Sumlin with his medical bills in recent years), Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa, among others. “
Born in Greenwood, Mississippi, in 1931, Sumlin was raised in Hughes, Arkansas. As a boy, Sumlin first met Howlin' Wolf by sneaking into a performance.
Eventually, Sumlin became the primary guitarist in Wolf's band in 1955, a position he held almost continuously for the remainder of Wolf's career.
The legendary Blues guitarist has been getting farewells throughout the day on his Facebook page.
Roxie Connie Todd Beebe commented: “I'm speechless right now. Hubert- you are a true idol and hero of mine, and you'll be missed very very much. I’ll always treasure the times we got to share and all the great conversations we had. RIP Hubert Sumlin- the master of the Blues.”
The guitarist was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2002 and had a lung removed. In recent years Sumlin continued to perform when his health permitted.