Muddy Waters / April 4, 1913(?) - April 30, 1983

McKinley Morganfield's name was awesome enough but he had to go and start being called Muddy Waters, which is like the old bluesman equivilent of a punk rock name. But that is an appropriate analogy since his loud & electrified folk-blues was the punk of its generation. Without Muddy, the path to Chicago blues, rock, metal and punk might've taken other roads.

Of questionable birth year, Muddy came from the musically fertile area of Clarksdale, Mississippi. He started playing harmonica but switched to guitar after hearing Son House. Alan Lomax was the first to record him (in '41, right in Muddy's house). After achieving regional success around Mississippi, he moved to Chicago in '43 and plugged in around '45, and the amplification helped him stand out in the loud bars. He recorded for Okeh and others before having massive success with Chess, with whom he started working for in '47.

His early '50s band was seriously hot shit, with Little Walter, Otis Spann & Willie Dixon, and they became the ruling band of Chicago. Muddy toured England in '58, giving the Brits their first taste of electric blues (which of course blew minds). He played the Newport Jazz Fest in '60.

With his major influence on the entire world of rock & roll it was natural that he would hook up with some of the psychedelic generation (Electric Mud being a famed example). The '70s and '80s brought a fruitful collaboration with Johnny Winter and he also played with the Rolling Stones. (I wonder where they got their name, haha).

He wrote or adapted some of the longest-lasting and most impactful tunes in the blues book. All the best '60s rockers covered his songs: Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Stones, Cream, Bob Dylan, the Allman Brothers, Canned Heat and others. His music bridged country-blues with rock. He also played jazz, country, folk and some pretty hard rockin' stuff as well, and remained absolutely relevant as a performer right til the end. He stands as one of the most important and influential musicians of history.

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