Muddy Waters was born McKinley Morganfield in Issaquena County, Mississippi, on the 30th of April, 1913.
Muddy earned his nickname from his Grandmother who raised him after his Mother died not long after he was born. She called him “Muddy” because he loved to play in the mud of the nearby creek where they lived.
Muddy began learning the harmonica then later turned his attention to the guitar. By the time he was 17, Muddy was performing at local parties playing the styles of the blues greats Robert Johnson and Son House.
In 1941, on behalf of the Library of Congress Alan Lomax was sent to record various country blues artists, one of which was Muddy. After hearing his own recorded pressing from the session Muddy decided that he had what it took to be a successful blues artist.
Muddy headed for Chicago in 1943 to become a professional blues musician. Big Bill Broonzy allowed gave him a head start in the competitive Chicago blues scene by allowing Muddy to open for him. Two years later Muddy’s uncle gave him an electric guitar so that he could be better heard over the din of the packed bars and clubs.
In 1946 Muddy started recording with Aristocrat Records run by Phil and Leonard Chess. In 1948 Muddy’s popularity in the local Chicago blues scene sky rocketed with his hits “I Feel Like Going Home” and “I Can’t Be Satisfied”.
It wasn’t long after that the Chess brothers changed the name of Aristocrat Records to Chess Records and one of Muddy Waters most iconic songs “Rolling Stone” was released, solidifying Muddy as one of Chicago’s leading blues figures.
Techniques And Musical Concepts They Popularised
Muddy Waters is cited as one of the most important pioneers of electric blues guitar playing, paving the way for the decades of electric rock music to follow.
Muddy’s masterful use of the electric guitar has been described as the technological bridge between the Delta Blues style and rock and roll guitar playing.
Notable Rock Guitar Players They Influenced
Muddy waters is considered by musicologists to be one of the most influential musical artists of the 21st century. His musical contributions have directly influenced a variety of musical genres from jazz, folk, and country, to rock, hard rock and blues.
Muddy’s historical 1958 tour of England is recognised as possibly the first time amplified blues was ever played there, beginning an obsession with electric guitar based blues that would eventuate in the birth of the “British Invasion” of blues based rock music.
Muddy’s 1950’s classic “Rollins Stone” also known as “Catfish Blues” was the inspiration for “The Rolling Stones” band name, the iconic music magazine “Rolling Stone” also derived its name from the Muddy Waters classic.
The song was also famously covered by Jimi Hendrix. Jimi Hendrix was quoted as saying that Muddy Waters was the first electric guitar player he was aware of and that his guitar playing scared him to death.
Eric Clapton was another loyal Muddy Waters supporter covering Muddy’s song “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” with Cream on their 1966 album “Fresh Cream”.
Rock giant’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin also payed homage to Muddy Waters with their 1969 rock classic “Whole Lotta Love” which was inspired by Muddy’s hit “You Need Love”.
In 1993, Free and Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers released a tribute album to Muddy waters entitled “Muddy water Blues: A Tribute To Muddy Waters” which featured such guitar icons as Gary Moore, Brian May and Jeff Beck.
Rock guitar legend Angus Young was also a Muddy Waters devotee, citing the lyrics from Muddy’s song “You Shook Me” as the inspiration for the lyrics of the 1980 AC/DC hit “You Shook Me All Night Long”.
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