By 1948, Howlin' Wolf had established himself within the Memphis community as something of a local celebrity. The Chicago bluesman had a 15-minute radio show to help advertise his local appearances and he started recording in 1951, after Sun Studio founder, Sam Phillips, heard him on his radio show. The first two songs that Wolf laid down were this track, along with "Moanin' At Midnight," on August 15, 1951.
Famed rootsy-Americana producer T Bone Burnett, is one of many aficionados of the Sun sound who cite this as the first rock 'n' roll song. Speaking with Uncut magazine in an April 2012 interview, he argued: "The first major breakthrough Sam made was with Howlin' Wolf. That's when he started bringing the bass and drums up loud. Back in those days, the bass and drums were background instruments; it was about the horns and the piano, the melody instruments, and Sam brought the rhythm section right up front, and that became rock 'n' roll. That was a big shift.In some ways 'How Many More Years' by Wolf would be the first rock 'n' roll song because that has the guitar lick that became the central guitar lick in rock 'n' roll, and that's the first time we heard that played on a distorted guitar. It was an old big band lick, turned into something completely fresh."