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Sunday, 4 April 2010

Howlin' Wolf: "Where the soul of man never dies".

Although I didn't play a Howlin' Wolf recording in the recent Radio Kima programme I did (featuring some of my favourite songs) I have to admit that the most influential and expressive vocalist of all time (for me) was Chester Burnett, better known as Howlin' Wolf. I met this legendary figure once upon a time (see his autographs above as evidence), and I recorded a tribute "medley" in his honour on my "On the Memphis Road!" CD, recorded at the Sun Studio in Memphis (the CD is still available).

Back in the seventies, I wrote a poem about his passing. I was working in Kenya and I never knew he'd died.

The Late Howlin' Wolf and the World Information Order

"This is where the soul of man never dies" Sam Phillips (on Howlin' Wolf).

Being abroad, I didn't know they'd died -

Bukka White and Howlin' Wolf,

T-Bone Walker and Big Boy Crudup.

Jimmy Reed I read about....

There was an obituary in The Times.

Hard to believe. They must have been

Very short of copy. Insufficient famous men

Had died the previous day.

Of course Elvis' death was the talk of the town.

I heard about it on the radio,

Whilst having a bath in Nairobi.

Frankly I didn't believe

The Voice of Kenya.

But then I tuned to the BBC -

The World Service (Voice of Objective Truth) -

And the man also said "Elvis is dead".

I was shocked. His voice carried no note of regret.

But if the BBC said he was dead

He was well and truly dead

And wouldn't be rocking again...

Though this wasn't entirely the truth,

Because he suddenly burst into song.

Later they cried, when Lennon died;

The Media went mad.

But what I really want to know

Is why they never told us

When the Wolf was going down slow.

Some years ago, I sent a copy for exhibition at the Howlin' Wolf Museum in West Point, Mississippi. It was accepted with gratitude, but I'm not sure if the Museum is up and running yet. See
See also

Here's the email from the Museum, dated 12 August 2005:

"Thanks so much for the wonderful poem and I will get it printed out and
display it where all can read............

I am about 2.5 miles from Wolf's birthplace and am sure he would have loved
the poem.

Thanks again!!!!!"

Richard Ramsey
Program Director
Howlin' Wolf Blues Society

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