Henry Gray obituary

Blues pianist who played and recorded with Howlin’ Wolf

In the electrifying blues scene of 1950s Chicago there were two men who rose above all others. On one side stood the stylish Muddy Waters; on the other the towering, intense Howlin’ Wolf. Henry Gray, who has died aged 95, played with both of them.

It was with Wolf he went deepest. Beginning in 1956 Gray spent more than a decade playing the piano on some of the Mississippi bluesman’s finest sessions in the studio while leading his band outside it, always making sure the other musicians stuck to Wolf’s firm no-drinking, no-smoking onstage rules. Older, wiser and more disciplined than many of the others, he proved to be the steady hand Wolf was looking for.

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