Muddy Waters

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Artist / Musician
Artist / Performer

Muddy Waters    (1915—1983)

McKinley Morganfield, better known as Muddy Waters, was dubbed the “King of the Chicago Blues.”

Muddy was born on April 4, 1915 near Clarksdale, MS and grew up on the Stovall Plantation.  He received his nickname at an early age from his grandmother who noticed McKinley loved to play in the muddy water of Deer Creek nearby their home.

Inspired by Robert Johnson, Son House, and Big Bill Broonzy, at age 17 Muddy sold the last horse his family owned and purchased a $2.50 Stella acoustic guitar from a Sears catalog.

In 1943 Muddy joined the Great Migration and landed in Chicago, Illinois and began performing for tips on Maxwell Street.  Realizing his Stella guitar couldn’t be heard above the raucous sounds of the open-air market, in 1944 Muddy purchased his first electric guitar and plugged into an amplifier.  This seminal moment and the subsequent adding of drums, piano, and harmonica to his act effectively created a new musical genre known as Chicago Blues.

His recordings for Chess Records beginning in the early 1950’s included “Hoochie Coochie Man”, “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” “I’m Ready,” and “Got My Mojo Working.”

Muddy inspired five young Brits to call their band The Rolling Stones after Muddy’s song “Rollin’ Stone.”  Led Zeppelin would base their hit “Whole Lotta Love” off Muddy’s “You Need Love.”  AC/DC would borrow from “You Shook Me” for their hit “You Shook Me All Night Long.”  The Allman Brothers would record his “Trouble No More.”

Muddy Waters has influenced a generation of guitar players including Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Mike Bloomfield, and Johnny Winter