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*This date marks the birth of Muddy Waters in 1915. He was a Black musician, singer, and cultural icon.
Born in Rolling Fork, Miss., to sharecroppers, Waters began playing harmonica as a teen and picked up the guitar after hearing the likes of Charlie Patton, Robert Johnson, and Son House. He quickly developed a bottleneck style of his own, recorded first by field folklorist Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress in 1941. With dreams of stardom, Waters moved to Chicago's South Side in 1943 and played at neighborhood clubs with Blue Smitty and Jimmy Rogers. At the small clubs, his acoustic guitar could not be heard, so he decided to plug it into an amp and "put a little drive in it."
In 1947 he recorded his first records for Leonard Chess' Chess Records (then known as Aristocrat) as a sideman for Sunnyland Slim. He recorded his own sides in '48, which quickly became hot items and catapulted him to stardom. While on Chess throughout the '50s he recorded songs such as Honey Bee, Got My Mojo Workin', Rollin' Stone, and Hoochie Coochie Man with the likes of Willie Dixon, James Cotton, Little Walter Jacobs, and Jimmy Rogers. A concert at the 1960 Newport Folk Festival exposed him to a much larger and whiter audience. As a staple on the '60s Chicago blues scene, he worked with a younger generation, such as Buddy Guy and Matt Murphy, in perpetuating the electric Chicago blues sound.
He worked with rock bands such as The Rolling Stones, and groups such as Canned Heat and Cream covered his songs. An auto accident in 1969 slowed him down a bit, but he still toured around the world and recorded on Columbia Records' Blue Sky label. If not for the pioneering electric guitar work of Muddy "Mississippi" Waters, Chicago would probably not be known as a blues hub today. He died in his sleep in 1983.
Nothing But the Blues The Music and the Musicians
Edited by Lawrence Cohn
Copyright 1993 Abbeville Publishing Group, New York