Matt 'Guitar' Murphy, Blues Brothers Guitarist, Dies at 88

Matt 'Guitar' Murphy
Jeremy Fletcher/Redferns

Matt 'Guitar' Murphy performs on stage at Fairfield Hall, Croydon in 1963.

Matt "Guitar" Murphy, best known as the guitarist for the Blues Brothers, died Friday (June 15). He was 88.

Murphy's passing was confirmed 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 on Facebook.  

Murphy's cause of death had not been revealed at press time. In 2002, he suffered from a stroke that pushed him into semi-retirement, Rolling Stone reports.

Murphy was a veteran of the Chicago blues scene in the 1940s and '50s, and worked with a wide variety of artists, including Ike Turner, Etta James, James Cotton, Willie Dixon, and Sonny Boy Williamson. But he is best known as Aretha Franklin's soul food chef husband and band guitarist in the 1980 classic comedy The Blues Brothers.

Following his death, Murphy was remembered by This Is Spinal Tap actor Michael McKean. "RIP Matt "Guitar" Murphy, one of those play-all-night guys that rock 'n' roll is made of," McKean tweeted.

Murphy was discovered by Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi at a New York club in 1978, according to Rolling Stone. That year, he was recruited for the Blues Brothers' album, Briefcase Full of Blues, and the film's soundtrack two years later. The guitarist reprised his role in 1998's Blues Brothers 2000 and also appeared on the film's soundtrack.

In addition to his work with the Blues Brothers, Murphy worked on solo musical projects, releasing two albums: Way Down South in 1990 and Lucky Charm in 2000.

Murphy was born in Sunflower, Mississippi, in 1929 and moved to Memphis as a child with his family. Matt Murphy and his brother, Floyd, became well known in the Memphis blues scene during their teenage years. Matt later became a sideman for such legendary blues artists as Howlin’ Wolf, Memphis Slim, and Muddy Waters.