"In 1965, The Rolling Stones, fresh from England, appeared on the ABC TV show Shindig. They had one condition: Their idol, Howlin' Wolf, had to be there, too. Sure enough, he was. A hulking black eminence, he stood at the microphone in a dark suit, his huge head sweating as he stabbed the air with his finger, shaking his hips salaciously before a bevy of white go-go dancers.
It's surely one of the most incongruous moments in American pop music. Music journalist Peter Guralnick, who says he reveres Howlin' Wolf, goes even further. He calls it one of the greatest cultural moments of the 20th century.
"What was so great about seeing Wolf on Shindig was it was in a sense reality imposing itself on this totally artificial setting," Guralnick says. "While I was a big fan of the Stones, it was altogether appropriate that they would be sitting at Wolf's feet. And that's what it represented. His music was not simply the foundation or the cornerstone; it was the most vital thing you could ever imagine."