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MUDDY WATERS
(1915 - 1983)

(born April 14, 1915, Rolling Fork, Mississippi; 
died April 30, 1983, Chicago, Illinois)

Muddy Waters, born McKinley Morganfield, was the patriarch of post-World War II Chicago blues.  A master artist who played slashing slide guitar and sang with the tough, sinewy view of a man who had seen his share of good and evil in life, Waters was also a compelling songwriter and song interpreter, a powerful stage performer and recording artist, and a superb bandleader.

A list of those musicians who passed through his bands reads like a Who's Who of Chicago blues greats.  Guitarists Jimmy Rogers, Pat Hare, Luther Tucker, and Earl Hooker; harp players Little Walter, Junior Wells, Big Walter Horton, James Cotton, and Carey Bell; bass player Willie Dixon; pianists Memphis Slim, Otis Spann, an

Pinetop Perkins; and drummers Elgin Evans, Fred Below, and Francis Clay are just some of the blues men who played in the Muddy Waters Band at one time or another.

Many of these artists went on to lead prestigious blues bands of their own, or became highly respected sidemen, though none, save Little Walter, ever came close to attaining the success or building the legacy that Waters did.

The list of artists Waters influenced would go on almost indefinitely.  Besides the entire generation of Chicago blues artists who came of age in the 50s and 60s, Waters also left his mark on dozens of British and American blues rockers.  Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Cray, and the Rolling Stones (who named their group after one of Waters' songs) are just the tip of the iceberg.

The attraction of Waters' brand of blues is due to his brilliant blues artistry and his critical role in providing the link between deep Mississippi Delta blues and hard-edged, urban and electric Chicago blues; more than any other musician, Waters was responsible for the mesh between old and new blues in the early postwar period.

Waters also helped transform the blues guitar sound.  Although other blues men had recorded with an electric guitar before Waters did, his importance as an innovative player is substantial.  Waters' guitar work was raw and vital and executed with the same urgency as the blues of Robert Johnson and Son House, two of Waters' mentors.

Robert Santelli -- The Big Book of Blues : A Biographical Encyclopedia


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