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Matt "Guitar" Murphy

Probably best known for playing behind the Blues Brothers (and appearing prominently in their 1980 hit movie), Matt "Guitar" Murphy deserves enshrinement in the blues-guitar hall of fame anyway. His jazz-tinged, stunningly advanced riffing behind Memphis Slim elevated the towering pianist's 1950s output for United and Vee-Jay Records to new heights.

Guitar playing ran in the Murphy household (which moved from Mississippi to Memphis when Matt was a toddler). Matt and his brother Floyd both made a name for themselves on the early-'50s Memphis scene (that's Floyd on Little Junior Parker & the Blue Flames' 1953 Sun waxings of "Feelin' Good" and "Mystery Train"). Matt played with Howlin' Wolf as early as 1948 (harpist Little Junior Parker was also in the band at the time). Murphy added hot licks to early sides by Parker and Bobby Bland for Modern before latching on with Memphis Slim's House Rockers in 1952. Normally, the veteran pianist eschewed guitarists altogether, but Murphy's talent was so prodigious that he made an exception.

Murphy's consistently exciting guitar work graced Slim's United waxings from 1952-1954 and his 1958-1959 platters for Vee-Jay. Another solid Memphis Slim LP for Strand in 1961 and dates with Chuck Berry, Otis Rush, Sonny Boy Williamson, Etta James, and the Vibrations at Chess preceded Murphy's memorable appearance on the 1963 American Folk Blues Festival tour of Europe (along with Slim, Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, Lonnie Johnson, Big Joe Williams, Victoria Spivey, and Willie Dixon). On that pioneering tour (promoted by Lippmann and Rau), Murphy commanded the spotlight with a thrilling "Matt's Guitar Boogie" that showcased his ultra-clean rapid-fire picking.

Harpist James Cotton was the sweaty beneficiary of Murphy's prowess during much of the 1970s. Murphy's crisp picking matched Cotton's high-energy blowing on the harpist's 1974 Buddah album 100% Cotton (the guitarist penned a non-stop "Boogie Thing" for the set). From there, it was on to aiding and abetting John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd's antic mugging, both on stage and in the Blues Brothers flick (where he played Aretha Franklin's guitarist hubby, convinced to come out of retirement by the boys in black).

Murphy has toured as a bandleader in recent years, having recorded an album of his own in 1990, Way Down South, for Antone's (with brother Floyd on rhythm guitar). His repertoire encompasses blues, funk, jazz, R&B, and even a few of those Blues Brothers chestnuts (he usually carries someone in the entourage to sing 'em, Belushi-style). ~ Bill Dahl
full bio

Comments

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One of the best.
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coleman3.edw i n
This is the TRUTH! Fabulous! This music will never get old!
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bumperooo
God Bless his blues playing heart....
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Yea all good
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Matt Murphy is one smooth guitar player. He jammed in The Blues Brothers.
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lol play dat blues boy
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no mention of Matt and the Shaboo All Stars...
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Superb picking!!
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oldnwilling
Man, this cat is serious!! Thanks Pandora. Another jewel.
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I'm digging this tune. Never really got to hear him standout with the Blues Bros on TV. Nice style and chops-rather righteous!-B B
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cbcatani
Just saw Matt a few months ago jammin' with Christine Ohlman and James Montgomery, it was incredible!
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rehayes34
Waterfront Juke Joint, New Hampshire, July '71 Murphy played his genius in front of James Cotton to a handful of listeners. What a group, fantastic memory!
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Best guitar i've heard in a spell!
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Used to see Matt with James Cotton all the time. At the start of each set, before James hit the stage, Matt would lead the band in an extended jam. Wish I could find some recordings of those; they were utterly amazing.
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One of the greatest pickers of all times!
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nvsaloncory
sick man, just plain sick:)
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Matt kills.
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belkat
He's got a great picking style and I love his big old voice!
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my time hearing this. he make that guitar sing!!!!!!!! !
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Murphy is terrific! I first heard him on the sides he cut with Memphis Slim back in 1956 on a radio sation out of Shreveport, LA. I then began a long search for a Memphis Slim record, which was quite a feat in Kansas in 1956.
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WoW! I love this
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Very Nice! You could be in traction and want to dance to this.
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without your dry white toast without your four fried chickens and without my matt guitar murphey!
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rogers.jesse
I got to see him live at Greenstreets in Columbia, SC back in the early '80's fronting his own band. Not only was his playing superb, but he is a genuinely nice gentleman, spending a lot of time between sets and after the show just talking with those of us fortunate to be there. If he doesn't make it to the hall of fame, there is no use to have one.
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Yeah, he's one of the legends that are always overlooked.. . d i d n ' t he also play with the original SNL band?
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Yeah! He gets my vote. Contact anybody in the industry you might know to get the man the recognition he deserves.
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How can we get the ball rolling to get him inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame? Ideas anyone?
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mrbuddypeppe r 7 1 2
And a Coke!
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howardbeeche r
This guy sounds good!
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marxsujo
Matt B the Man
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How is it possible that this man is not in the Blues Hall of Fame?
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digg this kat.. I bet he could eat 4 fried chickens and have room for some dry white toast.
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robabanks197 6
matt guitar murphy is one of the most under rated guitar players
in the country, and yes he should be in the blues hall of fame
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tortugalady2
Matt is a really tallented man. Love his music.
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cowboys1174
matt wails
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dig the song Way Down South along with many others.
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Matt Is TheBest
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I used to see Matt playing with the Zaitchik Brothers at a club in West Bridgwater MA. back in the '80's He was always phenomenal. Last I heard he had suffered a stroke and had to sell his equipment to pay medical expenses. He deserved so much better.

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