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Jimmy Page Sings Praises of Dead Blues Legend Hubert Sumlin

Hubert Sumlin
Scott Wintrow, Getty Images

He was never exactly a household name, but Hubert Sumlin was one of the most influential guitarists of the rock era — and his death on Sunday (Nov. 4) has prompted a flurry of tributes from some of the many fans and musicians who were moved by Sumlin’s work.

Such was Sumlin’s legacy that his playing had a profound effect on rock legends like Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, and Jimmy Page, who told Rolling Stone, “He always played the right thing at the right time.”

Though Sumlin racked up an impressive list of awards and accolades during his long career (including four Grammy nominations, an enshrinement in the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame, and recognition on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time), he was mostly known for his groundbreaking work with blues legend Howlin’ Wolf, including classics such as “Wang Dang Doodle,” “Spoonful” and “Back Door Man.”

Sumlin remained busy after Wolf’s death in 1976, both with the bluesman’s former backing band (which regrouped as the Wolf Gang) and as a solo artist, releasing an impressive stack of recordings on his own. His last release, 2004′s ‘About Them Shoes,’ found him playing alongside his disciple-turned-friend Keith Richards, who reportedly helped defray the costs of Sumlin’s healthcare in the years since he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2002.

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