"Smoke Stack Lightning" (as listed on the original single, more commonly referred to as "Smokestack Lightning") is a 1956 blues song by Howlin' Wolf. The song has appeared on the albums Moanin' in the Moonlight and The Howlin' Wolf Album. The song has been covered by many artists.
The song, written by Chester Burnett, better known as Howlin' Wolf, is based on one riff and no chord changes. Allmusic called the song, "almost a distillation of the essence of the blues". "Smokestack Lightning" was based on "Stop and Listen Blues" by The Mississippi Sheiks. According to Wolf: "We used to sit out in the country and see the trains go by, watch the sparks come out of the smokestack. That was smokestack lightning."
Howlin' Wolf recorded "Smokestack Lightning" in January 1956 in Chicago, Illinois. Backing Howlin' Wolf on vocals and harmonica were pianist Hosea Lee Kennard, guitarists Jody Williams and Hubert Sumlin, bassist Willie Dixon, and drummer Earl Phillips.
"Smokestack Lightning" peaked at #11 on Billboard magazine's Best Sellers in Stores (R&B Records) chart and #8 on the Most Played in Juke Boxes (R&B Records) chart. In Britain in 1964, Pye International Records issued "Smokestack...