Born in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, Waters was first recorded on a Mississippi Delta plantation by Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress in 1940. He later moved to Chicago where he switched from acoustic to electric guitar, then becoming increasingly popular among black musicians, as it allowed them to be heard in heavily crowded city bars. Waters playing is highly characteristic due to his use of the bottleneck on electric guitar. His first recordings for Chess Records featured Waters on guitar and vocals supported by a double bass. Later, he added a rhythm section and the harmonica of Little Walter to form his classic Chicago blues lineup.
With his deep, rich voice, charismatic personality and all-star backing, Waters rapidly became the most recognizable figure of Chicago Blues. Even B.B. King would later recall him as the Boss of Chicago. His bands were a who's who of Chicago blues musicians: Little Walter, Big Walter Horton, James Cotton, Junior Wells on harmonica; Willie Dixon on bass; Otis Spann, Pinetop Perkins on piano ; Buddy Guy on guitar and so on.
Waters' recordings of the late fifties and early sixties are particularly good. Many of the songs he performed have since became standards: I've Got My Mojo Working, Hoochie Coochie Man, She's Nineteen Years Old and Rolling and Tumbling have all become classic songs, frequently covered by bands from many genres.
His influence has been enormous across many music genres: blues, rhythm and blues, rock, folk, jazz, and country. Waters helped Chuck Berry get his first record contract.
His tours of England in the early 60s marked possibly the first time an amplified, hard-rocking band was heard there. (One critic retreated to the restroom to write his review because he found the band so loud.) The Rolling Stones named themselves after his 1950 song, Rollin' Stone, also known as Catfish Blues. Led Zeppelin's biggest hit, Whole Lotta Love, is based upon the Muddy Waters song, You Need Love, which was written by Willie Dixon. Dixon wrote some of Muddy Waters' most famous songs, including I Just Want to Make Love to You, Hoochie Coochie Man, and I'm Ready.
Other songs for which Muddy Waters is known include Long Distance Call, Mannish Boy, and the rock/blues anthem I've Got My Mojo Working.
Muddy Waters died in Westmont, Illinois at the age of 68 and is interred in the Restvale Cemetery, Alsip, Illinois, near Chicago.
Muddy Waters Facts
|Birth Name||McKinley Morganfield|
|Birthday||April 4, 1915|
|Birthplace||Rolling Fork, Mississippi, USA|
|Date of death||April 30, 1983 (Westmont, Illinois, USA, age 68)|