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Saturday, 21 December 2013
BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY : AFRICAN AMERICAN " MUDDY WATERS " WAS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT ARTIST TO EMERGE IN POST-WAR AMERICAN BLUES : GOES INTO THE " HALL OF BLACK GENIUS "
BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY Muddy Waters was the single most important artist to emerge in post-war American blues. A peerless singer, a gifted songwriter, an able guitarist, and leader of one of the strongest bands in the genre (which became a proving ground for a number of musicians who would become legends in their own right), Waters absorbed the influences of rural blues from the Deep South and moved them uptown, injecting his music with a fierce, electric energy and helping pioneer the Chicago Blues style that would come to dominate the music through the 1950's, ‘60s, and '70's. The depth of Waters' influence on rock as well as blues is almost incalculable, and remarkably, he made some of his strongest and most vital recordings in the last five years of his life.
Waters was born McKinley Morgan field, and historians argue about some details of his early life; while he often told reporters he was born in Rolling Fork, Mississippi on April 4, 1915, researchers have uncovered census records and personal documents that would pin the year of his birth at 1913 or 1914, and others have cited the place of his birth as Jug's Corner, a town in Mississippi's Issaquena County. What is certain is that Morgan field's mother died when he just three years old, and from then on he was raised on the Stov all Plantation in Clarks dale, Mississippi by his grandmother, Della Grant. Grant is said to have given young Morgan field the nickname "Muddy" because he liked to play in the mud as a boy, and the name stuck, with "Water" and "Waters" being tacked on a few years later. The rural South was a hotbed for the blues in the '20s and ‘30s, and young Muddy became entranced with the music when he discovered a neighbor had a phonograph and records by the likes of Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lonnie Johnson, and Tampa Red.
In 1943, Waters decided to pull up stakes and relocate to Chicago, Illinois in hopes of making a living off his music. (He moved to St. Louis for a spell in 1940, but didn't care for it.) Waters drove a truck and worked at a paper plant by day, and at night struggled to make a name for himself, playing house parties and any bar that would have him. Big Bill Broonzy reached out to Waters and helped him land better gigs; Muddy had recently switched to electric guitar to be better heard in noisy clubs, which added a new power to his cutting slide work. By 1946, Waters had come to the attention of Okeh Records, who took him into the studio to record but chose not to release the results. A session that same year for 20th Century Records resulted in just one tune being issued as the B-side of a James "Sweet Lucy" Carter release, but Waters fared better with Aristocrat Records, a Chicago-based label founded by brothers Leonard and Phil Chess. The Chess Brothers began recording Waters in 1947, and while a few early sides with Sunny land Slim failed to make an impression, his second single for Aristocrat as a headliner, "I Can't Be Satisfied" b/w "(I Feel Like) Going' Home," became a significant hit and launched Waters as a star on the Chicago blues scene.
Initially, the Chess Brothers recorded Waters with trusted local musicians (including Earnest "Big" Crawford and Alex Atkins), but for his live work, Waters had recruited a band which included Little Walter on harmonica, Jimmy Rogers on guitar, and Baby Face Leroy Foster on drums (later replaced by Elgin Evans), and in person, Waters and his group earned their reputation as the most powerful blues band in town, with Waters' passionate vocals and guitar matched by the force of his combo. By the early '50s, the Chess Brothers (who had changed the name of their label from Aristocrat to Chess Records in 1950) began using Waters' stage band in the studio, and Little Walter in particular became a favorite with blues fans and a superb foil for Waters. Otis Spann joined Waters' group on piano in 1953, and he would become the anchor for the band well into the '60s, after Little Walter and Jimmy Rogers had left to pursue solo careers. In the '50s, Waters released some of the most powerful and influential music in the history of electric blues, scoring hits with numbers like "Rollin' and Tumblin,'" "I'm Ready," "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man," "Mannish Boy," "Trouble No More," "Got My Mojo Working," and "I Just Want to Make Love to You" which made him a frequent presence on the R&B charts.