Jagger, Richards pay for bluesman Hubert Sumlin's funeral
Blues guitarist Hubert Sumlin, who appeared on many of Howlin' Wolf's most well-known songs, was remembered today in a public memorial service paid for by The Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.
Jagger and Richards will apparently foot the bill for Sumlin's entire funeral, which will include a private service tomorrow in Homewood, IL, in addition to today's service in Towata, NJ. "I just wanted to share with you, Hubert's loving fans, that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have insisted on picking up the full expenses for Hubert's funeral," said Sumlin's longtime partner and manager Toni Ann Mamary wrote in an online posting first reported by music site Noise11. "God Bless The Rolling Stones," she added.
Sumlin passed away Dec. 4 of congestive heart failure in a hospital in Wayne, NJ. He was 80 years old.
Born in Mississippi and raised in Arkansas, Sumlin first met iconic bluesman Howlin' Wolf as a boy when he snuck into one of the latter's performances. After Wolf (born Chester Arthur Burnett) relocated from Memphis to Chicago, he found himself in need of a rhythm guitarist and recruited Sumlin to join him. Following the departure of Jody Williams in 1955, Sumlin assumed the role of Wolf's lead guitarist, a job he held for the remainder of Wolf's career. In addition to countless singles and several other full-length LPs, Sumlin appears on Wolf's eponymous 1962 studio effort (sometimes called "The Rocking Chair Album" by fans), a record named the third greatest guitar album of all time by Mojo magazine in 2004.
Sumlin and other members of Howlin' Wolf's band carried on for several years as a unit following Wolf's death in 1976, billing themselves as "The Wolf Pack" until 1980. But Sumlin was also ramping up his own solo work as he emerged from Wolf's enormous shadow, and the '80s and '90s proved to be productive decades for the guitarist, who was nominated for four Grammy Awards in his career, including a nod in 2010 for his participation on Kenny Wayne Shepherd's "Live! In Chicago."
He was also a formative influence on a generation of English musicians raised on American blues and soul music, perhaps none so enduring as The Rolling Stones, whose early recordings enthusiastically aped traditional blues styles but whose appreciation mellowed into almost a symbiotic relationship with their beloved musical fore-bearers. In a statement, Jagger called Sumlin "an incisive yet delicate blues player" with "a really distinctive and original tone and was a wonderful foil for Howlin' Wolf's growling vocal style."
Richards appeared on Sumlin's final studio album, 2004's "About Them Shoes."