1994 Howlin’ Wolf
- Part of the Legends of American Music series
- Set features eight Jazz and Blues singers from the 20th century
Category of Stamp: Commemorative
Set: Jazz and Blues Singers, from the Legends of American Music series
Value: 29¢, First-Class Mail rate
First Day of Issue: September 17, 1994
First Day City: Greenville, Mississippi
Quantity Issued: 21,862,750
Printed by: Ashton-Potter
Printing Method: Lithographed
Format: Panes of 35 from printing plates of 210 (15 across, 14 down)
Perforations: 11 X 10.8
Reason the stamp was issued: The Jazz and Blues Singers stamps were issued as part of the Legends of American Music series. They honor some of the most famous jazz and Blues singers of the 20th century.
About the stamp design: The image on the Howlin’ Wolf stamp was painted by first-time stamp artist Julian Allen. The image is based on a phot from the back cover of his album Live and Cookin’ (At Alice’s Revisited).
The Blues and Jazz Singers stamps were originally planned as two separate sets, and different artists were hired for each set. When the two sets were combined into one, both artists continued with their assignments. Magazine illustrator Julian Allen, was given the four blues singers, while Howard Koslow created the artwork for the jazz singers. The USPS supplied photos of the singers to both artists, but they were dissatisfied with the way some of the singers were portrayed and found other sources.
Special Design Detail: Allen’s first painting of Howlin’ Wolf was done in blue tones to reflect the singer’s blues style. He also painted the sweat on the singer’s face. The committee choosing the final images asked Allen to change these aspects of his work. The new portrait had more natural coloring and showed less sweat.
First Day City: The First Day of Issue ceremony for the set was held in Greenville, Mississippi, during the 17th annual Mississippi Delta Blues Festival. Other cities also hosted First Day of Issue celebrations. These included the hometowns of some of the featured singers.
About the Legends of American Music Series: The Legends of American Music Series debuted on January 8, 1993, and ran until September 21, 1999. The stamps were issued in semi-jumbo size. The name of each performer is in white letters, sometimes on a black background to make it stand out. The name of the set is shown running up the left side of the stamp.
More than 90 artists are represented from all styles of music: rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm and blues, country and western, jazz and pop, opera and classical, gospel and folk. In addition to individual singers and Broadway musicals, subjects include band leaders, classical composers, Hollywood songwriters and composers, conductors, lyricists, and more. The Legends of American Music Series was a huge advancement for diversity because it honored many Black and female artists.
History the stamp represents: During his hard-driving performances, Chester Arthur Burnett sang out with such intensity that legendary musician Jimmie Rodgers nicknamed him “Howlin’ Wolf.” He was born in West Point, Mississippi on June 20, 1910, and brought up on a cotton plantation. There he was exposed to the traditional music of the Mississippi Delta. Howlin’ Wolf was taught and heavily influenced by Charley Patton, who was considered the model Delta blues performer. And although he did master the guitar and harmonica, his main instrument was always his powerful voice.
Howlin’ Wolf began his professional career when he was quite young, and performed all over Mississippi in the 1920s and 1930s. In the 1940s he moved to the flourishing blues scene in Arkansas. His band there included James Cotton and Little Junior Parker, both of whom gained recognition on their own.
In 1951 he recorded his first record, “Moanin’ After Midnight,” which became a big hit and led him to Chicago. Howlin’ Wolf, along with Muddy Waters, turned Chicago into the blues capital of the world. Fame with white audiences came to Howlin’ Wolf in the 1960s and ’70s, when rock bands like the Rolling Stones acknowledged his influence on their music.