Sunday, April 3, 2011
Son of Rolling Fork
Muddy Waters was born in 1915 or maybe 1913 in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, well nearby, out in the countryside. I just taught a workshop there. Rolling Fork is in the Mississippi Delta.
The place is interesting though and very comfortable oddly enough. I like it there. My friend Pat Walker runs workshops there and it is a great place to go for that. It is almost like visiting another country.
Born McKinley Morganfield but nicknamed "Muddy" for his habit as a child of playing in the mud, Muddy Waters was recorded by Alan Lomax. Lomax was traveling around the country during the depression with a portable studio assigned by the Library of Congress to capture the sound of authentic blues musicians. Lommax mailed two copies of the record he produced from the session and twenty dollars. Muddy realaized that he sounded as good as the name players of the day and moved to Chicago to begin a career as a professional musician in 1943.
Recording for Chess Records, Muddy became a top blues artist, with a string of hits. By the early 1950's he was the top musician in Chicago's blues scene. After he toured England and introduced that country for the firs time to electrified blues in 1958. About a decade later his career was reinvigorated when he was discovered by young English musicians like the Rolling Stones (who got their name from a Muddy Waters tune) , John Mayall, Savoy Brown, The original Fleetwood Mac with Peter Greene, Eric Clapton and Cream, and Led Zeppelin.
In the late 1970's Muddy produced a number of albums produced and assisted by Johnny Winter. In 1982 he played his last gig sitting in with Eric Clapton in a Florida concert. Muddy Waters died leaving innumerable children some from his several marriages and others from extramural treatments.
Muddy Waters is remembered as perhaps the greatest blues player and an enormous influence on American popular music.