We recently spoke and reported on the passing of Chuck Berry, in which we referred to him as the innovator and the founder of what we know as rock n roll. Today, we push back even further as we pay tribute to a man, without whom, there would have potentially been no Chuck Berry. The 4th of April was the birth date of the man who took the blues and turned it into something else entirely, laying down the foundations for what would soon become rock n roll. Today, we celebrate Muddy Waters.
Born Mckinley Morganfield in 1913, this humble plantation worker picked up a guitar as a child and due to a love of enigmatic bluesmen like Robert Johnson and Son House, taught himself the blues. The legendary recordings by Alan Lomax featured Muddy Waters, and it was following these recordings of himself playing that he moved to Chicago and developed the slide guitar, before signing with renowned record label, Chess Records. He altered his style and became iconic in his field, donning a more flamboyant style and a unique and recognisable sound. He put together a band that now reads like a super group, featuring one of the worlds greatest harmonica players, Little Walter, Otis Spann on piano and at times, Willie Dixon on bass. Dixon is still known as one the greatest blues song writers of all time and together they recorded genius with songs like ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’, ‘Mannish Boy’, ‘I’m Ready’ and ‘I Just Wanna Make Love To You’. All songs that are still known to this day.
Before his death in 1983, at 70 years old, Muddy Waters was recognised as the epitome of the blues and was a well respected figure in music history and music present. His sound has gone on to inspire and influence The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and a host of hip-hop and R&B stars. He even influenced Mojo20, as the name comes from a combination of ‘Got My Mojo Workin’ by Muddy Waters, and ’32-20 blues’ by Robert Johnson. His influence has no limits or bounds and his music and the footings for what became rock n roll will forever be appreciated and loved.
So as a tribute to this man, on what would have been his birthday, we thank you once again Muddy. Always know where you came from, it’ll make it so much easier to figure out where you want to go.
Words by Stuart Green (@mojo20_music)