Blues guitarist, singer and songwriter Jimmie Vaughan said it best, I think, when he penned the song “Six Strings Down,” which can be found on his 1994 album Strange Pleasure.
“Heaven done called … another blues stringer back home.”
Needless to say, I was saddened yesterday by the news of legendary blues guitar-slinger Hubert Sumlin’s death at the age of 80. Sumlin, guitarist for the equally legendary Howlin’ Wolf, was a huge influence on modern blues (and that’s putting it mildly), influencing the likes of Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Keith Richards and many others (including myself).
And that’s not to say the man didn’t lead a prolific life … he did (although the lack of a Grammy Award after four nominations says something about that particular awards committee). No, what’s sad is that there are so few of the “original” bluesmen left these days. Actually, when you get right down to it, Sumlin was more of a second generation bluesman. Any yet, that’s one of the reasons I’ve always loved the blues … there’s always another generation of musicians on hand to take the form in another direction, all the while preserving both its history and integrity.
With that said, rest in peace Mr. Sumlin. The musical legacy you leave behind will not soon be forgotten and I’m sure you’re in good company up there in blues heaven. And if you think of it, tell Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Albert King, Albert Collins, Freddie King, Robert Johnson, Jimi Hendrix, SRV and all the other guys I said hi.