Hubert Sumlin


Hubert Sumlin

(Nov. 16, 1931 – Dec. 4, 2011)

I must confess that my knowledge of Hubert Sumlin, the legendary blues guitarist from Chicago, was pretty much non-existent. In his lifetime, his music has inspired many people and bands that I greatly admire. Keith Richards, Carlos Santana, Chuck Berry, Eric Clapton, and the list just keeps on going.

The way that I discovered Mr. Sumlin was through a Google image search for “Blues Guitarist” – that search yielded this photograph:

Hubert Sumlin by Annie Leibovitz

Photo credits: Hubert Sumlin © 2003 Annie Leibovitz

Wow! The picture just screams “Blues Guitarist”! I did what many online bloggers, musicians, and content creators do these days – used the photo as source material for my own creation. It’s common for artists to create derivative works, yet afterwards, I was curious about who this man was. Why this photo in particular evoked such a sense of the man and his music. The keys to the puzzle were also to be found online.

Hubert Sumlin played blues guitar with the likes of Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. His style was wildly creative, and his energy inspired others to experiment and create their own styles. You can hear a bit of Hubert Sumlin’s playing in this clip:

There’s so much more that has been written about his art and life online. I encourage you to look into this man and maybe find some inspiration of your own. A few good places to start are:
Hubert Sumlin – Official Site
Wikipedia: Hubert Sumlin
100 Greatest Guitarists: Hubert Sumlin | Rolling Stone
Hubert Sumlin – Profile & Discography for Chicago Blues Guitarist
Hubert Sumlin, Master of Blues Guitar, Dies at 80 –

The final piece of the picture puzzle is without a doubt the photographer, Annie Leibovitz. Her skill in capturing not only the subject, but the emotion and life of the moment are simply amazing. If you are not familiar with her work, I’d urge you to read through some of the following:
Wikipedia: Annie Leibovitz
PBS: Annie Leibovitz gallery
Annie Leibovitz on FaceBook

In closing, I would like to express my gratitude to both Hubert Sumlin and Annie Leibovitz. One single photo has provided me with a much richer appreciation of their work and it’s effect on my life.


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