Blues Brothers’ Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy Dies at 88
Matt “Guitar” Murphy, best known as a member of the Blues Brothers band, has died at 88, his nephew confirmed in a Facebook statement. He’d semi-retired in the mid ‘00s after suffering a stroke.
Murphy's career included stints as sideman with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Memphis Slim and others. He appeared in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers, seen on screen as the husband of cafe owner Aretha Franklin, who tries to talk him out of rejoining Jake and Elmore’s band. He also appeared in 1998 follow-up Blues Brothers 2000. He also appears on the group's two John Belushi-era albums, 1978's Briefcase Full of Blues and 1980's Made in America.
Born Matthew Tyler Murphy in 1929, he began playing guitar at an early age. He moved from Mississippi to Chicago in 1948 and joined Wolf’s band before going on to work with Slim, Otis Rush, Chuck Berry, Ike Turner and many others. He formed his own band in 1982 and continued to perform until recently. He died in Miami.
In an undated interview with TomGuerra.com, Murphy was asked about his alleged rivalry with Buddy Guy during his Chicago era, and replied: “Everybody was considered a rival then, whaddya talkin’ about?! We all played guitar, but it wasn’t like, ‘Who’s the toughest, who’s this, who’s that,’ ya know? But it never came from me, and I don’t think it came from Buddy. I was too busy trying to learn than care about who was the best. I’m still trying to learn how to play the guitar. I’m still learning, man. But there ain’t nothin’ you can do when you’re dead, you know? All that means is, you keep living and you’re gonna get older, and one day, you’re gonna be old. So, hang on and you will learn.”
Living Colour called Murphy a “true legend” in a tribute tweet, while actor Michael McKean, who played David St. Hubbins in This Is Spinal Tap, described him as “one of those play-all-night guys that rock ’n’ roll is made of.” Further tributes came from Bootsy Collins, Joe Bonamassa and Michael Des Barres.