How Many More Years
Recorded by Mick Clarke at Rockfold Studio, Surrey January 2021
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Howlin' Wolf released "How Many More Years" in 1951. Extraordinary to think that I was one year old and not quite sure what a nursery rhyme was, and over in Memphis, Sun Studio, this incredibly powerful and intense music was being made, which would have great significance to me in years to come. More extraordinary perhaps that it took years for this kind of music to reach Great Britain. I actually saw Wolf and Hubert Sumlin for the first time on a concert on TV.. I think it was shown around lunchtime.. Smokestack Lightnin' - incredible stuff.
Around 1967 or so I was in my local record shop (Disc Records in Morden, Surrey.. I always thought what an unoriginal name for a record shop..) anyway it was an important place for my discovery of the blues. I spotted a garishly designed album cover called, simply, Rhythm'n'Blues. A quick glance at the back told me everything I needed to know.. Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker.. and on and on. This was the first time I'd owned a record of any of these people, and the first Howlin' Wolf track I ever heard was "How Many More Years".
Later, with my band Killing Floor, we were extremely fortunate to tour with Freddie King, and play a couple of dates with Howlin' Wolf. He actually turned up after a gig one night, the Bag O'Nails in London I think, and got up to jam with Freddie and our drummer Bazz and bass player Paul Turner. Smokestack Lightnin'.
Strange again to think that he was still comparatively young then.. in his 50s? But to us he was immeasurably ancient and wise (and a bit scary). In fact, as I've since learned, he was a very nice man.. a very caring and considerate man, just a bit wary of getting ripped off by the whiteys.. and with some cause. I really wish I could have been mature enough to have a good chat with him about his music and experiences, but what was I? 19?
So at the venerable age of 70 here's my version of his song, with the Epiphone Sheraton ripping out the lead.. versatile guitar that. Lots of fun to record - I hope you enjoy it.
Photo from, I think, about ten years ago at a gig in North London - courtesy of my friend Lance Muswell. (Could be wrong). I think that was the night that it took me about three hours to get round the M25. Plus ça change. Anyway, thanks Lance (if it was you).. looks like I'm gettin' in to it.