Muddy Waters

Born: April 4, 1915
Rolling Fork, MS, USA
Died: April 30, 1983

Born McKinley Morganfield in the Mississippi Delta, Waters was surrounded by the blues most of his life. He grew up in Clarksdale, Mississippi, near the crossroads that supposedly claimed the soul of Robert Johnson. His hero was Son House, however, and he tried his hardest to imitate him on the slide guitar and in his vocals. Waters was discovered one day when a traveling musicologist heard him while touring the Stovall’s plantation, where Waters worked. The musicologist, Alan Lomax, immediately convinced Waters to take him to his house so he could record a demo of his newfound friend. “I Be’s Troubled” turned out to be Water’s first hit, after he re-recorded it for Chess Records as “I Can’t Be Satisfied.”

In 1943, Waters left the Mississippi Delta for Chicago, looking for work and a brighter future. It didn’t take long for Waters to make a name for himself in the Chicago blues scene. People began to recognize his bottleneck-slide guitar and his wailing, growling vocals. Waters recorded for Columbia in 1946, but the albums would go unreleased for more than 20 years. It wasn’t until Waters was invited to play accompaniment for Sunnyland Slim that his career would really take off. The band became known as the Headhunters, because of their competitive nature concerning other local bands. They were the hottest band in Chicago by the end of the 40’s decade.

In the early 50’s, Waters was continuously in the R&B charts. He wrote and performed such standard blues hits as “Rollin’ Stone,” “She Moves Me,” and “Honey Bee.” And, throughout the 50’s decade, the Headhunters adopted a slightly more sophisticated sound. Because of this, however, Water’s wailing vocals and aggressive slide style were muted and eventually written out altogether. But Waters continued more chart success with “Mannish Boy,” “Trouble No More,” and “Sugar Sweet.”

In the late 50’s, however, rock and roll was beginning to crowd out traditional blues singers like Waters. Despite 1962’s hit “You Shook Me,” the 60’s didn’t hold as much success for Waters as the 50’s had, although such sleeper hits as “You Need Love” would be used later by rock supergroup Led Zeppelin. Waters would continually release albums throughout the 60’s, enjoying a folk and blues revival in the mid-60’s. Much of the late 60’s was spent touring, but little studio time was spent recording new material. Through the 70’s, Waters signed with Blue Sky Records, and released some of his best material in a more simplified approach to music. Unfortunately, Waters died in 1983, bringing the Chicago blues scene to an end. Waters influence can be found everywhere in rock and roll, as well as other kinds of music.

Instruments Played / Skills:
Guitar Vocals Songwriter

Blues Delta Blues

Muddy Waters Has Worked With:
J.T. Brown George Buford Buddy Scott Eddie Shaw George Harmonica Smith Tampa Red Luther Tucker Eddie C. Campbell Paul Oscher Bo Diddley Victoria Spivey

Muddy Waters Was Influenced By:
Ishmon Bracey Son House Robert Johnson Bumble Bee Slim

Artists That Were Influenced By Muddy Waters:
Garfield Akers Chuck Berry Michael Bloomfield Sugar Blue Preacher Boy Doyle Bramhall R.L. Burnside George Wild Child Butler Paul Butterfield John Campbell Eric Clapton Eddy Clearwater James Cotton Lester Davenport Tinsley Ellis Billy Flynn Rory Gallagher Buddy Guy Jimmy Hall Slim Harpo Corey Harris Dave Hole J.B. Hutto Luther "Georgia Boy" Johnson Casey Jones Floyd Jones Vance Kelly Donald Kinsey Lester Kinsey Ralph Kinsey Mark Koenig Al Kooper Lovie Lee Bob Margolin Johnny Mars John Mayall Jerry McCain Larry McCray Johnny B. Moore Charlie Musselwhite Tracy Nelson Hambone Willie Newbern Pinetop Perkins James Peterson Jerry Portnoy John Primer Ron Prince Bonnie Raitt Moses Rascoe A.C. Reed Keith Richards Rich Robinson Bobby Rush Otis Rush Curtis Salgado Magic Sam Harmonica Slim Lightnin' Slim Magic Slim Dave Spector Eddie Taylor Koko Taylor Melvin Taylor Ike Turner Stevie Ray Vaughan Robert "Bilbo" Walker "Boogio" Bill Webb Chris Whitley Jimmy Witherspoon Angus Young Mighty Joe Young
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"One of the things that makes the music business a crazy business is that it is such a young business. And because it is such a young business, there are no rules."

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