• SumoMe

Muddy Waters

“Manish Boy”

When anyone who knows what’s what compiles a list of the all-time greatest blues musicians, Muddy Waters (birthday McKinley Morganfield) is guaranteed to be near the top. Rolling Stone put Muddy Waters at the #17 greatest musician of all time in any genre, not just the blues.

Muddy Waters is known as the father of modern Chicago blues. In the Tuesday Tunesday segment, I’ve covered a large number of bluesmen. Most of them are from the South, and most of those are from the Mississippi Delta. This is important because Muddy Waters was born in Mississippi, but moved to Chicago in his thirties, bringing his music with him.

During his reign as the king of Chicago blues, he enjoyed huge commercial success with Howlin’ Wolf. This success took him to England where he gave the British his low-down gritty, thick voice to counteract Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. While Muddy Waters was wildly popular, it is clear he drew inspiration from Son House, who was a huge influence on his music.

Muddy Waters is the culmination of all the great bluesmen before his time–sort of like a one-man dream team of prior blues musicians. After his death, he inspired the same caliber of a dream team. He led Chuck Berry to get his record contract, he was the first guitar player Jimi Hendrix ever heard, Eric Clapton listened to him growing up, Bob Dylan, Etta James, AC/DC, and The Allman Brothers were all influenced by his music. Not a bad set of pupils.

Muddy Waters was one blues artist in a huge lineage of the genre, but he was certainly a link in the chain that did not rust out.