Matt “Guitar” Murphy, who served as a key member of the Blues Brothers Band and played alongside Howlin’ Wolf, James Cotton, Memphis Slim, and many more, has died at the age of 88. No cause of death has been announced but, as Rolling Stone points out, Murphy suffered a stroke that steered him into semi-retirement.
His death was first announced in a Facebook post by his nephew Floyd Murphy Jr., a fellow musician who played 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.
Many would recognize Murphy as the put-upon line cook married to cafe owner Aretha Franklin in The Blues Brothers. His decision to rejoin Elwood and Jake’s band in the film is what prompted Franklin’s now-iconic performance of “Think”. Murphy also appeared in 1998’s Blues Brothers 2000, and played with stars John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd both on tour and on their memorable Saturday Night Live performance of “Soul Man” in 1978.
Murphy, who came up in Memphis and later helped energize the Chicago blues scene of the ’40s and ’50s, also supported the likes of Ike Turner, Etta James, and Willie Dixon. He was spotted by Ackroyd and Belushi in a New York club in 1978, subsequently going on to play on the Blues Brothers’ 1978 album Briefcase Full of Blues. He also released solo albums, such as 1990’s Way Down South, 1996’s The Blues Don’t Bother Me, and 2000’s Lucky Charm.
In 2010, he and Cotton reunited for a reunion show, and he also made an appearance at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival at Madison Square Garden in 2013.
No shortage of artists emerged upon news of Murphy’s passing to pay their respects. See a few tributes below.