Muddy Waters

McKinley Morganfield greeted the world April 4, 1915, born into the deepest poverty on the Stovall Plantation in the Mississippi delta around Rolling Fork, Mississippi. His grandmother nicknamed him Muddy and the kids at school added Waters. In 1941, the great musicologist Alan Lomax appeared at Muddy’s shack on the plantation to record him. 2 years later Muddy made his way to Chicago to pursue music and was soon introduced to the electric guitar, and the world was introduced to Muddy Waters. In the 1950s, he pioneered a powerful electric blues with songs like “Mannish Boy,” “Rollin’ Stone” and “(I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man” that would galvanize the most influential rock artists of the ensuing decades like: Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Van Morrison and a kid named Eric Clapton. He continued recording throughout the ‘60s and ’70s, and—on a series of albums for the Blue Sky label produced by Johnny Winter—into the ’80s, during which period his legendary status was assured. When Muddy died in 1983 the entire music industry mourned and Chicago’s south side soon had an Honorary Muddy Waters Drive. Muddy was inducted Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987; a Lifetime Achievement Grammy was posthumously bestowed in 1992. In 1994 the U.S. Postal Service put his soulful-eyed face on 29-cent stamp. Muddy Waters wasn’t just a blues legend; he is an American icon. His music was the place a black sharecropper from the Mississippi could empty all of his pain, talent and intellect and make sure the world remembered his name.

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