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Muddy Waters

McKinley Morganfield, better known as blues musician Muddy Waters, is an American singer and guitarist. Born in Mississippi in 1913 he grew up on a plantation and by the age of 17 was playing guitar and harmonica, performing in a band in local Mississippi Delta Clubs. Although born in Mississippi, with tracks like "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man" and “Rollin' Stone” Waters is seen as one of the pioneers of Chicago blues.

His early musical inspiration came from local musicians, including the legendary Robert Johnson and Delta blues singer Son House. He taught himself guitar by listening to songs of the former. His nickname came from his boyhood where he was known for enjoying fishing and playing in a muddy creek. While in Mississippi, in 1941, he was recorded by folk researchers Alan Lomax and John Work for the Library of Congress. Then in 1943 he moved to Chicago where he got himself an electric guitar. By 1946 he had begun recording for a Columbia Records subsidiary called Okeh.

By the 1950s he was playing with his own band, which included Jimmy Rogers on guitar, Elgin Evans on drums, Otis Spann on piano and Little Walter Jacobs on harmonica. Together they recorded classic blues tracks like "I Just Want to Make Love to You", "I'm Ready" and “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man”. In 1958 Waters visited England and his time there birthed the renewed interest in the blues that, along with Waters use of guitar licks and his amplification techniques, became the inspiration for 1960s and 70s rock acts like the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin.

Two years later, back in the US he recorded and released his first ever live album, taken from his performance at the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival. Not only has the music Waters recorded become classics of the blues and gone on to influence a range of genres including jazz, rock n’ roll, country, hard rock and folk, but he also had some of the best Chicago blues musicians play in his band in the 1950s. He also helped both Howlin' Wolf and Chuck Berry in their early careers. In 1976 he appeared in Martin Scorsese’s The Last Waltz, which documented The Band’s last performance.

Waters’ last public performance came a few years later, when he was a special guest at an Eric Clapton show in Florida in 1982. Waters died of a heart attack on 30th April 1983. Four years later he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Muddy Waters (MUD01RF)

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Muddy Waters performing onstage during a gig at the Liberty Hall, Houston

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