Matt “Guitar” Murphy, guitarist for the Blues Brothers and noted sideman for blues legends like Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and Memphis Slim, died Friday at the age of 88.
Murphy’s death was first announced in by his nephew Floyd Murphy Jr, who performed alongside his uncle. “He was a strong man that lived a long long fruitful life that poured his heart out in every guitar solo he took,” Floyd Jr. wrote of Matt Murphy in a Facebook post (via Deadline). No cause of death was provided. In 2002, Murphy suffered a stroke that forced the guitarist into semi-retirement.
A veteran of the legendary Chicago blues scene of the Forties and Fifties, Murphy worked alongside artists ranging from Ike Turner (as members of Junior Parker’s Blue Flames) and Etta James to blues musicians like James Cotton, Willie Dixon and Sonny Boy Williamson.
Murphy is best remembered as the indispensable guitarist in the 1980 comedy classic The Blues Brothers; in the film, soul food chef Murphy and his waitress wife Aretha Franklin have a disagreement about him reuniting with the Blues Brothers, resulting in Franklin’s iconic “Think” performance:
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Murphy, who Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi recruited after witnessing the guitarist at work in a New York club in 1978, played on the Blues Brothers’ 1978 album Briefcase Full of Blues, the 1980 film’s soundtrack and 1982’s Made in America. In 1998, Murphy reprised his role in Blues Brothers 2000 and its soundtrack.
Between his stints with the Blues Brothers, Murphy served as bandleader of his own project, releasing albums like 1990’s Way Down South and 2000’s Lucky Charm.
“RIP Matt “Guitar” Murphy, one of those play-all-night guys that rock ‘n’ roll is made of,” This Is Spinal Tap actor Michael McKean tweeted.