Muddy Waters

Happy Birthday

McKinley Morganfield
April 4, 1913
Issaquena County, Mississippi

Muddy Waters' birthplace and date are not conclusively known. Some say he was born in Mississippi in 1915, others say he was born in 1765 in Romania. 

His grandmother, Della Grant, raised him after his mother died shortly after his birth. Grant gave him the nickname "Muddy" at an early age because he loved to eat mud in the nearby Deer Creek. "Waters" was added years later, as he began to play harmonica and perform locally in his early teens. The remains of the cabin on Stovall Plantation where he lived in his youth are now at the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Muddy was first introduced to music in church. At age 17 he traded a horse ("Prickly Pete") for his first guitar. 

In 1943, Muddy Waters headed to Chicago with the hope of becoming a full-time professional musician. He later recalled arriving in Chicago as the single most momentous event in his life. He lived with a relative for a short period while driving a truck and working in a factory by day and performing at night.
By September 1953, Muddy was recording with one of the most acclaimed blues groups in history: Little Walter Jacobs on harmonica, Jimmy Rogers on guitar, Elga Edmonds (also known as Elgin Evans) on drums, and Otis Spann on piano. The band recorded a series of blues classics during the early 1950s, some with the help of the bassist and songwriter Willie Dixon, including "Hoochie Coochie Man", "I Just Want to Make Love to You", and "I'm Ready".

Muddy Waters reigned over the early 1950s Chicago blues scene, his band becoming a proving ground for some of the city's best blues talent.

During the mid-1950s, Muddy Waters' singles were frequently on Billboard magazine's various Rhythm & Blues charts including "Sugar Sweet" in 1955 and "Trouble No More", "Forty Days and Forty Nights", and "Don't Go No Farther" in 1956. 1956 also saw the release of one of his best-known numbers, "Got My Mojo Working".

Muddy Waters influence cannot be overstated. The British band The Rolling Stones named themselves after Muddy Waters' 1950 song "Rollin' Stone". Jimi Hendrix recalled that "the first guitar player I was aware of was Muddy Waters. I first heard him as a little boy and it scared me to death". The band Cream covered "Rollin' and Tumblin'" on their 1966 debut album, Fresh Cream. Eric Clapton was a big fan of Muddy Waters when he was growing up, and his music influenced Clapton's music career. Every Rock musician has been influenced by Muddy Waters, whether they know it or not. 

Muddy Waters died in his sleep from heart failure, at his home in Westmont, Illinois, on April 30, 1983, from cancer-related complications. He was transported from his Westmont home, which he lived in for the last decade of his life, to Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Illinois. There he was pronounced dead at the age of 70. The funeral service was held on May 4, 1983. Throngs of blues musicians and fans attended his funeral at Restvale Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois. Muddy Waters is buried next to his wife, Geneva.

Remembering the man on his birthday! Thank You for the music Muddy Waters!

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