Matt Murphy (blues Guitarist) - Life and Career

Life and Career

Matt Murphy was born in Sunflower, Mississippi, United States, and was educated in Memphis, where his father worked at the Peabody Hotel. Murphy played with Howlin' Wolf in 1948; harpist Little Junior Parker was also in the band at the time.

By 1952, Murphy was in Chicago, where he began his long association with Memphis Slim by playing on his dates for United Records and Vee-Jay Records, including the album, At The Gate of Horn (1959). Murphy did not have a band of his own until 1982, but played with many famous bands. Among them (more or less chronologically):

  • Howlin' Wolf
  • Little Junior Parker
  • Ike Turner
  • Muddy Waters
  • Memphis Slim
  • James Cotton
  • Otis Rush
  • Etta James
  • Sonny Boy Williamson II
  • Chuck Berry
  • Joe Louis Walker
  • The Shaboo All Stars
  • The Blues Brothers

He played with some of these bands for many years (for example, 20 years in a row with Memphis Slim), while others were just sessions during his work at Chess Records.

He gave a memorable performance in 1963 on the American Folk Blues Festival tour of Europe with his "Matt's Guitar Boogie". Freddie King is said to have once admitted that he based his "Hide Away" on Murphy's playing during this performance.

Murphy can be seen in the films The Blues Brothers and Blues Brothers 2000, where he plays Aretha Franklin's hen-pecked husband. Work thereafter with The Blues Brothers turned him into one of the best-known blues guitarists in the United States.

Murphy's signature model guitar is manufactured by Cort Guitars.

Murphy has been less active since he suffered a stroke on stage while performing in Nashville in 2003—he finished his set performing with one hand. A benefit was mounted by notable musicians of Memphis and Nashville. Murphy now resides in Miami, Florida. He has been playing in Florida with two young protégés Tim O'Donnell and Darrell Raines, and performed with his nephew Floyd in the Florida Keys during 2009.

He has been on the comeback trail with a reunion performance with James Cotton at the 2010 Chicago Blues Festival. A September 2011 release took place of a 1986 live recording from the 40 Watt Club in Athens, Georgia. Patton Biddle recorded the show live, and Floyd Murphy Jr., Matt's nephew, played the drums along with Howard Eldride on vocals.

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