J.T. "Funny Paper" Smith

John T. Smith, b. c. 1890 in Texas, d. c. 1940, variously known as the Howling Wolf, "Funny Paper" Smith, "Funny Papa" Smith, and Howling Smith, was a blues guitarist, singer and songwriter, active 1920s–1940. Very little is known about the life of this blues guitarist and singer, although he reportedly played in New York in 1917, and worked in Texas and Oklahoma in the 20s and 30s, recording in 1930. One of his albums provided him with a nickname (or possibly reflected an existing one), ‘The Howling Wolf’, pre-dating the more famous blues artist of that name on record by about 20 years. His steady, rhythmic picking and warm baritone helped sell sufficient albums for him to record again the following year, including another ‘Howling Wolf’ track, and a dozen more. Following this, he served a prison sentence for murder. In 1935, he recorded at four long sessions in Fort Worth, Texas, along with Black Boy Shine and Moanin’ Bernice Edwards, although almost nothing from these was released. Smith’s date of death is unrecorded. He is believed to have died in 1940, although blues historians, Bob Eagle and Eric S. LeBlanc, reckoned from their research that it was "after 1947".