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scratchie
09-13-2006, 01:03 PM
I was watching this great documentary on one of my long-time favorites, Howlin' Wolf, yesterday, and among other things, I learned that Wolf ran one of the most business-like bands around. His wife kept the books and even paid unemployment insurance for his band. Most of the musicians I know would love to have a regular gig that gave them medical insurance, let alone unemployment insurance. For a blues act in the 50s, that's astonishing, and I have decided that Wolf was, in fact, the Best Musician Ever and have adjusted my avatar accordingly.

Adam Crocker
09-13-2006, 01:11 PM
Yes Wolf was a surprisingly progressive employer as far as band leaders went given his time. Even when Muddy Waters poached Hubert Sumelin with the offer of more money he found he preferred working for Wolf.

On the other hand I don't understand the "Best Musician Ever" part since I don't think this says anything about him as a musician. (In fact a number of great musicians come to mind who were downright assholes.)

scratchie
09-13-2006, 01:57 PM
I'm being tongue-in-cheek, obviously. I meant it as "coolest guy who was a musican", not "most talented musician". I think the idea of "most talented musician ever!" or "X is better than Y" discussions are usually moronic, but in terms of character, it sounds like Wolf was one of the coolest guys to work with ever.

Jonathan Bogart
09-13-2006, 02:06 PM
The Wolf doesn't get nearly enough respect. He invented hard-rock singing with that gravelly voice, he was one of the best blues lyricists around when he got the chance (Chess forced Willie Dixon songs on him most of the time), and his swirl of sound that mixed electric and acoustic instrumentation was instrumental in defining rock & roll for the British groups that transformed it in the 60s. He might be my favorite blues artist ever. Him or Mississppi John Hurt.

Adam Crocker
09-13-2006, 02:09 PM
Well there ya' go. That's what I get for being an anal-retentive didact.

But yeah he does from what I've read about him, which mostly comes from some interviews I read in Living Blues Magazine with musicians who knew him. Well mostly an interview with Hubert Sumelin who claims that Wolf was like a father to him. (Then again the other interviews seem to reflect that view of him.) I suppose might be striking given the way a lot musicians and celebrities seemingly turn out to be assholes personally. But it could be that Wolf's conduct is simply setting up a contrast in my head against the usual suspects.


I think the idea of "most talented musician ever!" or "X is better than Y" discussions are usually moronic...

Personally I couldn't begin to figure out who might be the greatest musician(s) ever since the sheer diversity in music means you'll have a bunch of candidates doing such different things from each other that such an exercise would merely be "well what do I most prefer listening to--right now?" (Which I find to be particularly the case for myself and others like me whose musical tastes tend to be spread out all over the place.)

Adam Crocker
09-13-2006, 02:11 PM
The Wolf doesn't get nearly enough respect.

He doesn't?

(Funny you mention the voice. When I first heard Wolf's stuff my I thought "So that's where Dylan got it from!")

Ilash
09-13-2006, 02:14 PM
Howlin' Wolf is the man. 'Nuff said.

Slam_Bradley
09-13-2006, 02:20 PM
I watched the same documentary. Good film (The Howlin' Wolf Story). I'm also a pretty big fan of the Wolf. He certainly seems to have lucked in to a great wife, which, given his lack of education probably explains a lot about how he did business. I was also VERY impressed by the fact that he went back to school as an adult and would be studying between sets. Great role model.

Punchy
09-13-2006, 11:34 PM
"Wang Dang Doodle" is one of the greatest recordings of the 20th Century.

And Jonathan, what's wrong with Dixon's tunes? Got something against bass players?

And when discussing the greatest musician ever the best argument can be made for Bach since he basically formulated refined all of the concepts of Western harmony and notation in his treatise 'The Well-Tempered Clavier'. I would probably say Beeethoven.

But of course the point is moot and could never be proven.

Jonathan Bogart
09-13-2006, 11:56 PM
And Jonathan, what's wrong with Dixon's tunes? Got something against bass players?
Goddamn bass players providing rhythmic complexity and an essential bottom sound!

Nothing's wrong with Dixon's songs; they're classics, obviously, but I remember reading that Wolf was unhappy that he wasn't allowed to record more of his own songs. 'Sall.

jesse_custer
07-13-2007, 08:02 AM
I just bought this CD that contains two of Howlin' Wolf's albums, Howlin' Wolf and Moanin' in the Midnight. For $10. Goddamn that's a great deal.

DennyK
07-13-2007, 01:58 PM
Mozart, Bach, or Beethoven

Dreadstar
07-13-2007, 02:02 PM
Glenn Gould.

Brad Barton
07-13-2007, 02:30 PM
Okay, I've got one who, I think, is both Extremely Cool AND Extremely Talented.

Dimebag Darrell, Late guitarist for Pantera. Those who aren't familiar with him will probably raise your eyebrows in a "who?" kind of gesture. Those who are familiar with him will nod in agreement in a "right on" kind of gesture.

Trust me, if you know who he is and what he's about, you will absolutely agree with me on this. My vote for coolest musician ever -- is Dimebag Darrell Abbott (http://youtube.com/watch?v=pjOLC61DpPY). Wherever he went, laughter and big smiles followed, and he was one of the most talented guitarists of our era.

Jessica Drew
07-13-2007, 02:52 PM
Speaking of goddamned bass players, where would Macca fit in the category of best musicians ever? Top Twenty?

TheLazy
07-13-2007, 03:49 PM
Okay, I've got one who, I think, is both Extremely Cool AND Extremely Talented.

Dimebag Darrell, Late guitarist for Pantera. Those who aren't familiar with him will probably raise your eyebrows in a "who?" kind of gesture. Those who are familiar with him will nod in agreement in a "right on" kind of gesture.

Trust me, if you know who he is and what he's about, you will absolutely agree with me on this. My vote for coolest musician ever -- is Dimebag Darrell Abbott (http://youtube.com/watch?v=pjOLC61DpPY). Wherever he went, laughter and big smiles followed, and he was one of the most talented guitarists of our era.

No doubt about talented, but after hearing reports about him attacking kerrang reports after an unflattering sketch and him blowing off Phil Assemlo with double standards before his death, he sounds like an asshole to me.

Punchy
07-13-2007, 05:06 PM
Speaking of goddamned bass players, where would Macca fit in the category of best musicians ever? Top Twenty?

It depends. Do you count being a songwriter as being a musician as well? If so he's in the top 3 for me. But if you're only talking about singing/playing bass I don't think he'd sniff the top twenty.

Reptisaurus!
07-13-2007, 09:34 PM
Mingus. Duh.

Jonathan Bogart
07-13-2007, 09:52 PM
Way to not actually read a thread and realize it's specifically about Howlin' Wolf, not some dumb questionaire, guys. As though "best" is a concept with any real meaning in music.

Dreadstar
07-13-2007, 09:59 PM
Chet Atkins.

Patriot07
07-13-2007, 10:27 PM
It depends. Do you count being a songwriter as being a musician as well? If so he's in the top 3 for me. But if you're only talking about singing/playing bass I don't think he'd sniff the top twenty.

Well remember, he's not just a bass player. IMO, he's a very underrated bass player especially in the Rubber Soul/Revolver era. I always found his voice to be the most pleasing of all the Beatles, but that's a personal thing. He can't also play a number of odd instruments. Guitar, Piano, Drums, Mandolin, Ukelele, Sitar, Organ (which is very different than the Piano), Trumpet, Mellotron, Recorder, and Melodica. He can play all those instruments profficiently. Due to this, a lot of his albums are Paul alone, except for the orchestral sections, but he orchestrates them himself. And as you said, he's a very strong song writer, who's still pumping out song after song, with very little rehash. You can call him formulaic with the pop hits, but really when you think of it, post-Early Beatles all of his songs really have their own personality. For all the reasons mentioned, I'd put Paul McCartney in the Top 3 of greatest Rock musicians ever and I'd be really hard pressed to pick two more above him. Maybe John Paul Jones and Ian Anderson, but it would be really hard.

As for all time, it would for me be, J.S Bach. Bach pretty much created western music. I really can't think of a lot of other reasons, but I think the fact that he is the most influential figure in music is good enough. I mean, he used some funky chords that were recycled 300 years later in 20th Century Jazz and "progressive rock." They had different names and structures, but the basic chords were there. He was mainly comissioned to do church music even though he hated the organized catholic church. He tossed in little inside jokes for the musical community to pick-up that showed his hatred for what was going on. For one of his Preludes (a piece played before the church service), he wrote it completely about Adam and Eve and temptation. This showed that he felt the church was going too far into temptation. It was some very far out thinking for his day. He also did wonders for keyboard instruments in general. If it weren't for Bach, we wouldn't have Deep Purple, The Doors, Emerson Lake and Palmer, YES, and most other bands that featured organs. Listen to "Take it as it Comes" by The Doors. The solos is completely based off of a Bach progression.

Jonathan Bogart
07-13-2007, 11:49 PM
If it weren't for Bach, we wouldn't have Deep Purple, The Doors, Emerson Lake and Palmer, YES, and most other bands that featured organs. Listen to "Take it as it Comes" by The Doors. The solos is completely based off of a Bach progression.
Jesus, if that were Bach's primary legacy, then he would deserve to be as forgotten as the organist who preceded him at Brandenburg. Frankly, without Bach, the shape of the world would be different. Not just music. Not even just art. I'm talking geopolitics, religion, the history of science and philosophy in the last 400 years.

I wouldn't call him "the best" though, because that's a stupid phrase.

Patriot07
07-14-2007, 01:34 AM
I love how you took apart my whole write-up on Bach and made it look like that was my only point...

Jonathan Bogart
07-14-2007, 01:41 AM
I love how you took apart my whole write-up on Bach and made it look like that was my only point...
I just thought it was funny that one of the selling points was the existence of a bunch of not exactly universally respected rock bands from thirty years ago.

Patriot07
07-14-2007, 02:01 AM
I just thought it was funny that one of the selling points was the existence of a bunch of not exactly universally respected rock bands from thirty years ago.

I just like the sound of the organ (for the most part). Keith Emerson, Jon Lord, Ray Manzarek, and all those guys were really great at their craft especially Jon Lord. And just because they're not universally respected doesn't mean that they don't have talent, because they very much do.

Punchy
07-14-2007, 08:30 AM
Well remember, he's not just a bass player.

My post said he was a bass player/singer.

I love his bass playing, I just don't think it makes him one of the top twenty musicians.

Patriot07
07-14-2007, 09:31 AM
My post said he was a bass player/singer.

I love his bass playing, I just don't think it makes him one of the top twenty musicians.

On the scale of bass playing, he's not in the top twenty, but the thing that puts him in there is his ability to be a multi-instrumentalist.

jesse_custer
07-14-2007, 10:44 AM
John Lennon and Prince are just as adept at playing multiple instruments as Paul.

mattx110
07-14-2007, 11:11 AM
John Lennon and Prince are just as adept at playing multiple instruments as Paul.

john lennon was sloppier, and didn't have as sweet a singing voice.

prince can kick his ass on guitar.

and howlin' wolf has the most distinctive voice in music ever. the other week i saw this young indian kid try to sing in an approximation of his voice to play a couple blues songs. how many singers have that kind of effect in kids from different generations and different nationalities?

edit: i also agree with everything dreadstar said

Patriot07
07-16-2007, 10:11 PM
John Lennon and Prince are just as adept at playing multiple instruments as Paul.


I'll give you Prince, but John could play a lot of of instruments, but he wasn't good enough at all of them to produce full albums with just him. That's not a bad thing, but it's where Paul had him beat. He was the better lyric writer though (Paul was the master of melodies).