Matt "Guitar" Murphy, Chicago Sideman and Blues Brother, Has Died at 88

Matt "Guitar" Murphy, a Chicago blues sideman for Howlin' Wolf, Memphis Slim, and others that would later gain wider fame for his role in The Blues Brothers Band and movies, has died at the age of 88.

Matt "Guitar" Murphy with Memphis Slim - "Matt's Guitar Blues"

Born in Mississippi in December 1929, Murphy was raised in Memphis, where he began to play guitar as a child. At the age of 18, he moved to Chicago and soon got a gig in Howlin' Wolf's band. But it was his work alongside Memphis Slim and the fast, dexterous playing for the pianist's live performances and albums in the 1950s that cemented his reputation.

He laid down licks for a number of Chess Records albums in the early 1960s, including some for Chuck Berry, Etta James, Otis Rush, and Sonny Boy Williamson. At the 1963 American Folk Blues Festival that toured through Europe, he played alongside Slim, Williamson, Muddy Waters, Lonnie Johnson, and Willie Dixon. His solo runs in "Matt's Guitar Blues" and "Matt's Boogie" were showstoppers.

Aretha Franklin with Matt "Guitar" Murphy in Blues Brothers - "Think"

Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi approached him one night in 1978 as he was jamming with Johnny Winter at a New York City club. They recruited him for the first Blues Brothers album, which included their hit cover of "Soul Man." Murphy would continue to be part of the growing franchise. He appeared with the band during their early Saturday Night Live performances and played a fictionalized version of himself in the 1980 movie.

His character—Aretha Franklin's husband—had to leave her in a fit to rejoin the Blues Brothers, prompting her to sing "Think" to him in one memorable moment of the film. He revised his role later in the Blues Brothers 2000 movie.

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