B Matt "Guitar"Murphy
Master of Blues Guitar, Is Dead at 88

 

   June 19, 2018

     
A master bluesman who played with Howlin’ Wolf, Etta James, Chuck Berry and Memphis Slim but was best known as a member of the Blues Brothers band, died on Friday in Miami.


 

Matt “Guitar” Murphy
December 29, 1929 - June 15, 2018

Matthew Tyler Murphy was born in Sunflower, Mississippi to Elizabeth and Dan Murphy. He had three brothers; Melvin, Dan and Floyd, and a sister Minnie Lee. Matt got his first guitar from Sears and was raised in Memphis by his father after his mother passed away. His father was a chef at the Peabody Hotel.
Matt graduated High School and attended music school in Memphis and grew up with his siblings and his pets and dog Ned.
In 1948 he moved to Chicago where he became a staff guitarist at Chess records, joined the Howlin' Wolf band, which at the time featured Little Junior Parker. In 1952, Murphy recorded with Little Junior Parker and Ike Turner. Matt worked a lot with Memphis Slim and recorded with Chuck Berry and was featured in works by Koko Taylor, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Buddy Guy, Etta James, Otis Rush and many more. Who Matt played with is a Who’s Who’s list of Chicago blues in its innovation stages. Matt enlisted in the United States Army during the Korean War where he played in the Army band, mainly for the Officers clubs. Matt finished 2nd best behind a 19 year old in his basic training troop at the age of 28.
There is a famous video performance with Matt alongside Willie Dixon and Memphis Slim, and Billy Stepney in 1963 on the American Folk Blues Festival tour of Europe with his "Matt's Guitar Boogie”.

In the 1970s, Matt played with harmonica player James Cotton, recording over six albums before leaving to join the Blues Brothers. He was always grateful to John Belushi and Dan Akroyd for their friendship and was proud to have worked with them.
Matt 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.
Matt continued to record his own music and most notably the album with his brother Floyd, “Way Down South”, which highlights the blues rhythm guitar style that they helped create.

Matt’s guitar style was unique and he was one of the creators of the Chicago blues sound, an innovator who loved to listen to all the great musicians he could. He was a student of harmony in all musical genres and never stopped studying the blues. Matt was so honored to be inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2012 and he received the key to the city where he was raised in, Memphis Tennessee in 2012 as well.
Matt continued to play and record, recently tracking for his nephew Melvin Murphy Jr.’s song “Move It” and working on writing for a new release.

Matt played guitar everyday of his life. He slept with his guitar and liked to stay home with his wife Kathy and their pets that they love so much, cats Neffie and Captain America, and dog Fuzzy.
Matt loved to golf and fish with his brother and really enjoyed his families holiday dinners. He never stopped creating and wanting to perform for people and share his gift. Matt put all of his heart and soul in his music.

In 2011 Murphy married his long time fiancee Kathy Hemrick in a private ceremony in South Miami, Florida where he lived his final years. He loved to play the jazz standard “April in Paris” for Kathy.

Matt is survived by his wife Kathy, two sons; Melvin and Christopher, many cousins, nieces and nephews and many good friends.

Matt was most proud of never drinking, doing drugs or smoking in his life and he was also very proud of his house and home life.
Matt said he told his family at 8 years old that he was going to be a famous guitarist one day and he was right.

“My dad Melvin Murphy Sr., loved him and was always bragging about him since I was a small boy. When I grew up and heard him myself I saw that my dad wasn't exaggerating one bit. He was an extraordinary musician and the most down to earth person I knew. My wife and I are blessed to have been a part of his and his wife’s Kathy's life. We will always love him and miss him.” - Melvin Murphy Jr.

“Matt Murphy was one of the kindest most talented souls to be in the music industry. His personality was full of patience and he naturally had a very giving nature with his expertise and talents. I am so honored that he took the time to sit down and play guitar with me and let me into his life and music. I will cherish our time together forever.” - Rachelle Coba

"Matt was true history. He was one of the nicest guys who could really play his axe and it was always a pleasure to be in his company.”-Sam Moore

Kathy Murphy would like to sincerely thank all of Matt's fans and friends for being on this journey with him. If there are any questions you can reach her at 786-439-5975 or

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