June is a big birthday month at Epiphone as we celebrate the life of Les Paul
, the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
and Paul McCartney (not to mention his most recorded composition, “Yesterday.” But the secret hero behind much of the rock & roll that has inspired Epiphone over the last five decades is Howling Wolf, who was born June 10, 1910, in Whites, Mississippi. At six feet tall and close to 300 pounds ("of heavenly joy"
as he once sang), his presence was as commanding as his voice, a bizarre but wonderful combination of Charlie Patton and fellow Mississippian Jimmie Rodgers, who gave Wolf yodeling lessons when they met when Wolf was only 14 and still went by his given name, Chester Burnett.
Wolf was first recorded by Sun Records founder Sam Phillips in Memphis who told author Peter Guralnick: "When I heard Howlin' Wolf, I said, 'This is for me. This is where the soul of man never dies
.'" Wolf went on to record with Chess Records in Chicago where he was welcomed by lifelong friend and rival Muddy Waters. That's how The Rolling Stones discovered him. In fact, The Rolling Stones were instrumental in helping Wolf tour the UK and introduced him to British audiences on the legendary Shindig
program in 1965. His axe on the trip overseas? A Casino
, of course. Put some Wolf into your life this week and toast one of the greats in American music. Happy Birthday to The Howling Wolf!