The definitive 1991 anthology Howlin’ Wolf: The Chess Box has been chosen as 2020’s Classic of Blues Recording: Album for the Blues Foundation’s Blues Hall of Fame. The 41st edition of the flagship blues institution features a total of 14 honorees spanning almost a century of music, with nods for a wide range of artists from Victoria Spivey to Bettye Lavette.
The 1991 release was a much-lauded collection of Wolf’s work from 1951 to 1973, with no fewer than 75 tracks from ‘Moanin’ At Midnight’ onwards, and recordings featuring such fellow blues greats as Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy and Hubert Sumlin.
The inductees in the Blues Hall of Fame are across five categories — Performers, Non-Performing Individuals, Classics of Blues Literature, Classics of Blues Recording (Song), and Classics of Blues Recording (Album). The performers include Wolf’s sometime Chess labelmate and pianist Eddie Boyd, harmonica man Billy Branch and longtime blues-soul maven Bettye LaVette.
Also honoured are artist, songwriter, manager, bandleader and label owner Victoria Spivey, guitarist Syl Johnson and sideman George “Harmonica” Smith. Producer Ralph Peer is the 2020 honoree in the Individual (Business, Media & Academic) category, and new in the Hall of Fame as a Classic of Blues Literature is Earl Hooker, Blues Master by French writer Sebastian Danchin.
The Classic of Blues Recording: Singles entries for 2020 are Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup’s original ‘That’s All Right (Mama)’; Bertha ‘Chippie’ Hill’s 1926 hit version ‘Trouble in Mind; Willie Brown’s ‘Future Blues’; B.B. King’s first nationwide hit ‘3 O’Clock Blues’ and Ruth Brown’s 1953 bestseller ‘Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean.’
The Blues Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be held in conjunction with Blues Music Awards Week on Wednesday 6 May 2020 at the Halloran Centre at the Orpheum, Memphis. A simultaneous montage of special items representing each of the Hall’s new inductees will be on display from the same week and enshrined in the museum for the following 12 months.
Howlin’ Wolf’s The Chess Box can be bought here.