Remembering Hubert Sumlin
The first time I met Hubert Sumlin he made me laugh and cry.
You couldn’t help but laugh when he’d solo. His guitar screamed then mumbled then stuttered then slurped. Often he’d remove his hands from the instrument and shrug as if it caught him by surprise, too.
Backstage at Grant Park, I told him some of the real heavy stuff I was feeling as a 16 year old kid. And he listened. He didn’t tell me I was crazy. Or stupid. He just listened. And that made me cry.
We ran into each other several times over the years. He even gave me his home number in Milwaukee and he’d tell great stories — as long as you didn’t call during a Brewers/Cubs game. He told me the E! True Hollywood Story on Wolf and Muddy and Earl Hooker and Hendrix and the Wolf imitators and a behind the scenes story at the London Sessions that is so funny and so awful you wouldn’t believe it. (“And they brought out this big pipe. I’d never seeeeen a pipe like that..”)
And I even asked Hubert for advice of the heart which essentially boiled down to this: if you love your guitar more than the woman you’re with…don’t tell her….don’t tell your guitar either.