The Blues Hall of Fame is opening its doors for an amazing class of artists, songs, and albums for its 2008 class.
The Blues Foundation announced the Class of 2008 will include the legendary Hubert Sumlin, Jimmy McCracklin, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Peetie Wheatstraw, Jimmy Witherspoon, and The Mississippi Sheiks as the latest inductees. John Hammond and Paul Oliver will be inducted as non-performers.
In addition to these artists and blues contributors, several written and recorded works will also be enshrined. Songs by Otis Rush ("Double Trouble"), Little Walter ("My Babe"), and Bessie Smith ("Back-Water Blues") will be immortalized. Albums by Big Joe Williams (Piney Woods Blues), Bobby Bland (Members Only), Etta James (Rocks The House), Freddy King (Freddy King Sings), and Jimmy Reed (I'm Jimmy Reed) will also be inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.
August Wilson's play 7 Guitars and James Segrest and Mark Hoffman's biography of Howlin' Wolf Moanin' at Midnight: The Life and Times of Howlin' Wolf round out the Class of 2008.
What a great group of names right there: Otis, Etta, Hubert Sumlin. The most surprising thing about the Class of 2008 is that Sumlin is only now being inducted. His unique guitar work is a backbone to some of the most important, influential songs in the history of music. Sumlin was a sideman for icon Howlin' Wolf. Wolf's songs, many featuring Sumlin's incredible talents, influenced the Rolling Stones and numerous other rock and rollers who would cover many of those songs. Sumlin's role in the great music of Howlin' Wolf inspired the Stones who in turn inspired generations to follow. His guitar work is of monumental importance to the music of the 20th Century.
Otis Rush's "Double Trouble" made such an impact on the great Stevie Ray Vaughan that he named his backing band of Tommy Shannon and Chris Layton (later including Reese Winans) after the song. Rush is one of the great Chicago bluesmen of all time and "Double Trouble" is one of many great songs in his catalog. The song was recorded when Rush was on Eli Toscano's Cobra label. Although Rush is famous for his tremendous guitar work, many of the lead licks on the Cobra recording were contributed by the late Ike Turner.
Etta James' Rocks The House is only one of five live albums enshrined by the Blues Hall of Fame, which is a surprise considering how many live blues albums have been recorded and how many of them are actually quite excellent. James is my favorite female vocalist of all time. She has the most perfect female voice in recorded human history and has recorded countless classics, including "At Last." "At Last" was proclaimed the greatest love song ever recorded on the B-Sides Concept Album program's Valentine's Day episode.