Matt "Guitar" Murphy

Matthew Tyler Murphy (December 29, 1929 – June 15, 2018),[1][2] known as Matt "Guitar" Murphy, was an American blues guitarist. He was associated with Memphis Slim, The Blues Brothers and Howlin' Wolf.

Matt Murphy
Murphy in 2011
Background information
Birth nameMatthew Tyler Murphy
Also known asMatt "Guitar" Murphy
Born(1929-12-29)December 29, 1929
Sunflower, Mississippi, U.S.
DiedJune 15, 2018(2018-06-15) (aged 88)
Miami, Florida, U.S.
Years active19482018
LabelsAntone's, Roesch, Bluzpik
Associated actsThe Blues Brothers, Howlin' Wolf, Memphis Slim, James Cotton

Early life

Murphy was born in Sunflower, Mississippi, and was educated in Memphis, Tennessee, where his father worked at the Peabody Hotel. Murphy learned to play guitar when he was a child.


In 1948, Murphy moved to Chicago, where he joined the Howlin' Wolf Band, which at the time featured Little Junior Parker.[2] In 1952, Murphy recorded with Little Junior Parker and Ike Turner, resulting in the release, “You’re My Angel”/“Bad Women, Bad Whiskey”(Modern 864), credited to Little Junior Parker and the Blue Flames.[3][4]

Murphy worked often with Memphis Slim,[4] including on his debut album At the Gate of Horn (1959).[5] Murphy recorded two albums with Chuck Berry and was also featured in works by Koko Taylor, Sonny Boy Williamson II,[4] Buddy Guy, Etta James,[4] and Otis Rush.[6] He also performed with Willie Dixon.[4]

He gave a memorable performance in 1963 on the American Folk Blues Festival tour of Europe with his "Matt's Guitar Boogie".[7] Freddie King is said to have once admitted that he based his "Hide Away" on Murphy's playing during this performance.[8]

In the 1970s, Murphy associated with harmonica player James Cotton,[4] recording over six albums. Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi attended one of their performances and subsequently asked Murphy to join the touring band of The Blues Brothers.[6] Murphy appeared in the films The Blues Brothers (1980) and Blues Brothers 2000 (1998), playing the husband of Aretha Franklin. He performed with the Blues Brothers Band until the early 2000s.[5]

Murphy's signature guitar is manufactured by Cort Guitars. He visited the Cort factory in Korea in 1998, and later that year the MGM-1 was introduced. Most of these guitars have a sunburst or honey finish. They are made of agathis, with a mahogany neck, and have two humbuckers and single volume and tone controls. This model was produced until 2006; 78 were sold, according to factory numbers.[9]

Murphy was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2012.[10]

Personal life and death

Murphy suffered a stroke in the summer of 2002 but returned to perform a few years later.[9]

In 2011, Murphy married Kathy Hemrick in a private ceremony in South Miami, Florida. A month later they celebrated with an "open to the public" reception at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which also doubled as a release party for the CD Last Call.[10]

He resided in Miami until his death on June 15, 2018 from a heart attack, aged 88.[1][11] Murphy's death was first announced on Facebook by his nephew Floyd Murphy Jr. who performed alongside his uncle and who said: "He was a strong man that lived a long long fruitful life that poured his heart out in every guitar solo he took".[4]

Solo discography

Way Down South (1990)

Way Down South was Murphy's debut solo album, first released in 1990 with Discovery. It included contributions by his brother Floyd, and remained his most critically acclaimed solo project.[12]

The Blues Don't Bother Me! (1996)

The Blues Don't Bother Me! was Murphy's second solo album, and the first released with Roesch Records. His nephew, Floyd Murphy, Jr. played drums and co-composed two songs, and the label's namesake and exec producer, Joe Roesch played drums on one song. Reception was more mixed.[13] The title recording, The Blues Don't Bother Me, was licensed by Universal Records as the second track on the Blues Brothers 2000 Original Motion Picture Soundtrack which earned the RIAA Certified Gold Award of 500,000 units sold on March 16, 1998.

Lucky Charm (2000)

Lucky Charm was Murphy's third solo album,[14][15][16] first released in 2000 with Roesch.[17] It included contributions by his fellow Blues Brothers musicians Lou Marini and Alan Rubin, credited as The Blues Brothers Horns.[18]

Track listing

All tracks are written by Matt "Guitar" Murphy[17].

1."Boogie Overture"7:18
2."What's Up With You, Baby?"3:18
3."Who's Got the Puddy"4:18
4."Good Luck Charm"3:58
5."I Remember"4:41
6."Got Me a Carrying Stick"6:44
8."Willie Mae"6:02
9."On No, I'm Falling in Love Again"4:50
10."Time to Move On"4:45
11."Headin' Northwest"2:33


  • Matt "Guitar" Murphy  composer, primary artist, bass, guitar, guitar (electric), vocals
  • Sax Gordon  guest artist, saxophone, vocals (background)
  • The Blues Brothers Horns  horn
  • Birch Johnson  trombone
  • Alan Rubin  trumpet
  • Lou Marini  horn section, saxophone
  • Floyd Murphy, Jr.  drums, guitar, vocals (background)
  • Leon Pendarvis  keyboards, organ, vocals
  • Tom Barney  bass
  • Scott Spray  bass
  • Howard Eldridge  vocals
  • David Foster  vocals (background)
  • Sable Roesch  vocals (background)
  • Vic Steffens  vocals (background)
  • Matt "Guitar" Murphy  producer
  • Sable Roesch  executive producer, art direction, vocals (background)
  • Joe Roesch  executive producer, art direction, mixing, photography, vocals (background)
  • Robert Sauber  cover painting, design
  • Vic Steffens  engineer, mixing[17]

Last Call (2010)

Last Call was Murphy's last solo album, released in 2010 with Bluzpik.[19]


With Sonny Boy Williamson

See also


  1. Haring, Bruce (15 June 2018). "Matt "Guitar" Murphy Dies: Blues Brothers Guitarist And Noted Sideman Was 88". Retrieved 15 June 2018.
  2. Bill Dahl (1927-12-29). "Matt "Guitar" Murphy | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-10-05.
  3. Bogdanov, Vladimir; Woodstra, Chris; Erlewine, Stephen Thomas, eds. (2003). All Music Guide to the Blues (3rd ed.). p. 435.
  4. Kreps, Daniel (June 16, 2018). "Blues Brothers Guitarist Matt 'Guitar' Murphy Dead at 88". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  5. Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. p. 149. ISBN 978-1-85868-255-6.
  6. Komara, Edward, ed. (2006). Encyclopedia of the Blues. 1. Routledge. p. 712.
  7. Bogdanov, Vladimir, et al. (eds.) (2003). All Music Guide to Soul, p. 487. Backbeat Books.
  8. Batey, Rick (2003). The American Blues Guitar: An Illustrated History. Hal Leonard. p. 118. ISBN 9780634027598 via Google Books.
  9. Wright, Michael (April 2016). "The Cort Matt "Guitar" Murphy MGM-1". Vintage Guitar. pp. 30–32.
  10. Nash, JD (15 June 2018). "Matt "Guitar" Murphy Dead at 88". American Blues Scene. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  11. "Matt Murphy, Master of Blues Guitar, Dies at 88". The New York Times. June 19, 2018. Retrieved August 16, 2018.
  12. Dahl, Bill. Way Down South at AllMusic. Retrieved 2018-08-19.
  13. The Blues Don't Bother Me at AllMusic. Retrieved 2018-08-20.
  14. Peters, Michael (2018-06-16). "Matt 'Guitar' Murphy, Blues Brothers Guitarist, Dies at 88". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-09-21.
  15. Nash, JD (2018-06-15). "Matt "Guitar" Murphy dead at 88". American Blues Scene. Retrieved 2018-06-15.
  16. Kreps, Daniel (2018-06-16). "Blues Brothers Guitarist Matt 'Guitar' Murphy Dead at 88". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2018-09-21.
  17. Lucky Charm (CD cover). Matt "Guitar" Murphy. United States: Roesch. 2000. RR0038.CS1 maint: others (link)
  18. Lucky Charm at AllMusic. Retrieved 2018-08-20.
  19. Cohen, Howard (June 16, 2018). "Blues Brothers 'Soul Man' Matt 'Guitar' Murphy remembered by Miami music legend". Miami Herald. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
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