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Muddy Waters

Updated: Mar 23

Mckinley Morganfield, better known as Muddy Waters is an American musician, one of the main historical figures of the Chicago blues, and American blues together. He is the one who is known to have defined Chicago’s style to its finest. Being one of the leaders to flourish in the post-war American blues. He is the father to many legends of blues and rock. Other than blues and rock, he has influenced many genres of music such as folk, jazz, country, and Hip hop. He came to the scene with an inequitable uniqueness. His style was vivid, energetic, heavy, and electrifying. Others would describe his style as "Raining Down Delta Beatitude". Muddy consistently remained in the pillars of blues sound for many decades up to his last days.

According to his official sources, Mckinley Morganfield was born on the 4th of April 1915, with a very humble beginning. He grew up on a plantation owned by the Stovall family, in the Mississippi Delta, around the Rolling Fork (Mississippi). The Stovall plantation was in the same place the Delta Blues Museum has been built more recently. It is argued that Mckinley was most likely born at Jug’s Corner in neighboring Issaquena County in 1913. He was a sharecropper born with a gift. Mckinley’s mother died when he was just 3 years old, so he was raised by his grandmother Della Grant. He actually received the name "Muddy" from his grandmother, because he liked to play in the mud when he was a kid; and "Waters" from his friend at school. He then adopted Muddy Waters as his stage name. Later, he would also be called "The Mud" by his peers. Though Muddy didn’t grow up with his father, he inherited his gifts Ollie Morganfield, Muddy’s father, was himself a talented musician and guitarist. It seems that it runs in the family since Muddy’s cousin, the Reverend Willie Morganfield, who dedicated his life to the church, became a well-accomplished gospel recording artist.

Muddy was a blues baby who never cut his umbilical cord. He grew up listening to Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lonnie Johnson, and Tampa Red. He started to play harmonica at the age of 7, and around the age of 13, he was already rocking parties like a professional. He would sometimes be accompanied by guitarist Scott Bohanner, who was also making a living on the Stovall plantation. Muddy was raised by the sounds of the greats of his time. He was influenced by the Delta blues artists such as Eddie James, Better known as Son House, also Robert Johnson, and Charley Patton. Muddy who was a great fan of the Mississippi Sheiks claimed that he walked ten miles to see them play. So they all motivated him enough to make one of his greatest decisions, which is to change instruments and buy himself an acoustic guitar. Muddy's first guitar was a Stella acoustic that he bought for 2.50$.

Muddy started to perform his own shows with his local peer band, the Son Simms Four. At the age of 18, he opened a juke joint on the Stovall plantation. The juke joint was a place, where the sharecroppers, primarily Americans of black African ancestry, would go to sit back relax, listen to music, enjoy snacks, and drinks, dance, and gamble. Around 1935, it is in the juke joints, at parties and dances, in the area of Clarksdale in Mississippi, that Muddy learned harmonica and the guitar. He built a solid foundation in Mississippi and performed with many solid musicians such as Billie Joe Williams and Robert Nighthawk. During the same era, in November 1932, Muddy marries his first wife Mabel Berry. They invited Robert Nighthawk to play guitar at the wedding. As wild as it gets, Nighthawk had set this party on fire until the floor fell through. A tumultuous marriage for the two lovers because Muddy was a ladies' man, and that brought difficulties to the relationship which lasted up to 4 years.

In 1940 Muddy marries Geneva Wade, In Lexington Mississippi. Geneva is the cousin of the guitarist bluesman Robert Lee burnside. In 1941, the well-known musicologist/archivist Alan Lomax sided with John Wesley Work III, prospecting to document the local sound of Mississippi for the Library of Congress. In addition to the Library of Congress, the project was financed by Fisk University. This was part of an effort in 1928 by the Library of Congress to archive Folk Songs across the Americas and so on. They came to Muddy’s Shack in Stovall with portable recording equipment and recorded him. For the session, Lomax borrowed a Martin Acoustic Guitar for Muddy to play. Muddy left a mark on them, and they went on to record many sessions of him playing in his juke joint. Sometime later, Muddy received in the mail two test pressing and a check for 20$. This event was decisive for Muddy. In fact, he said in a Rolling Stone interview that Alan Lomax brought his equipment to Muddy’s house, and recorded him there. Muddy realized that he sounded like any records out there. When he received his two vinyl copies, he played his song repetitively on a jukebox, and hearing his voice on the records made him say "I can do it". The first official release of these recordings was in 1966, but only 13 tracks were selected under the title "Down on Stovall’s Plantation". The project was released on Testament records. Then in 1993, the label Chess released "The Complete Plantation Recordings - The Historic 1941-42 Library of Congress Field Recording" which would later win a Grammy Award. This project compiled 22 tracks mostly composed and written by Muddy Waters, with the exception of one by Robert Johnson and 2 other tracks by obscure writers. On the recordings, Muddy was on the vocals and the guitar, accompanied along the project by Henry "Son" Sims on the violin and the acoustic guitar, Percy Thomas on the acoustic guitar and vocals, Charles Berry on acoustic guitar, and Louis Ford on the mandolin and vocals. The project includes 4 interviews with Muddy Waters. It is well documented and well preserved, we can also see a picture of Muddy playing on the porch of his cabin. The sessions were recorded between Stovall’s Plantation and Clarksdale. Along with Alan Lomax and John Work III’s enterprise, Andy Mackaie contributed to the production and fruition of this project.

Alan Lomax originally came with the intent to record Robert Johnson who had died three (3) years prior. In his quest, Lomax’s discovered local musicians such as Fiddler Henry "Sun" Simms, when he started recording at Muddy Water’s house; and upon hearing Muddy’s music, it left him with a very great impression. Alan Lomax returned with Lewis Jones between 1942 and 1943 for more recording sessions. This time Muddy had a Silverstone acoustic guitar to perform. Out of all the recordings, two of Muddy’s songs were dedicated to Colonel William Howard Stovall, the plantation owner whom he worked for. The Colonel Stovall family was one of the most successful in cotton farming and was a pioneer of agricultural technology. Colonel Stovall invented the burr clover seed in 1935 and actually asked Muddy to write the song "Burr Clover Blues", in addition to that he wrote "Muddy Clover Farm Blues".

It seems that Muddy always had in mind to migrate to Chicago. At the beginning of the 1940s, he played with Silas Green but didn’t fully implement himself in the scene. It is officially in 1943, that Muddy decided to move to Chicago. It is suggested that he fled Mississippi due to a conflict with the owners of the plantation, in a period of great racial tension in the south. He wanted to make a living out of his God-given gift. Upon his arrival in Chicago, one of his family members sheltered him for a short period. Muddy would drive a truck and work at a paper plant during the day, while slowly making a name for himself playing at house parties and bars, during the night. Somewhere between 1944-1945, Muddy acquired his first electric guitar from his uncle Joe Grant. It allowed him to have a sound that was more impactful in the noisy clubs. Playing it through a variety of small amps, the electric guitar added more power to his delivery. Muddy also used capos, slides, thumb picks, and index picks. His early band was notably composed of Otis Spann on the piano and Little Walter on the Harmonica.

It is Big Bill Broonzy who reached out to Muddy, to help him find better events to perform to. Big Bill opened doors to Muddy by letting him make the first part of his shows at the clubs on the Southside of Chicago. Muddy Waters would later, in 1960, pay a tribute to the legendary Big bill Broonzy who helped a great number of people, in addition to being the shaper of what we know and understand as blues today. Therefore Muddy paid his homage to Big Bill by releasing the album "Muddy Waters Sings Big Bill".

In 1946, Muddy is starting to get proper cognizance, this is when his first encounters with record labels begin. We can say that he indeed made enough noise to draw the attention of the representatives of Okeh Records. Nevertheless, whatever work was done there, was not released. Muddy also has been able to work with 20th Century Records where a two-song project was released under the name James "Sweet Lucy" Carter and his orchestra. There is a song titled: "Let Me Be Your Coal Man" that was recorded on the A-Side, a previous and rare version of "Mean Red Spider" where we can hear Muddy on the B-Side (1946-1947). It is said that Muddy had to change his name temporarily to avoid contractual issues.

It is 1947 that Muddy started to see better opportunities to advance his career, notably with his partnership with Leonard and Phil chess. The Chess brothers acquired Aristocrat records, a label based in Chicago. Aristocrat Records was originally founded during the spring of 1947, by Evelyn Aron, her husband, and some friends; not too long before the Chess brothers took over. Prior to the Chess brother's ownership, Sammy Goldberg who in charge of most of the activities of Aristocrat records. By this time Muddy's electric guitar was stolen and he substituted it for a Gretsch Synchromatic. To Jimmy Rogers's suggestion, Muddy equipped the Gretsch Synch with a D'Armond FHC pickup to electrify it. So starting on a good foot, on the 30th of September of 1947, Muddy recorded songs like "Gypsy Woman" and "Little Anna Mae", in collaboration with musicians such as the pianist Sunnyland Slim and the Bass player Ernest "Big" Crawford. During the month of December, he recorded songs like "Good Lookin’ Woman" and "Mean Disposition", again with Sunnyland Slim on the piano, Ernest "Big" Crawford on the bass, and Alex Atkins playing alto saxophone. The two first songs he released didn’t gain the success they should have, and the label decided not to release the two latter songs during the period of their recordings. But then he recorded "I Can’t Be Satisfied "and "I Feel Like Going Home", two songs that stapled his name as a prominent entity on the Chicago blues scene. Muddy also formed a special band for the road, which would eventually be part of the studio recordings. The band was composed of Little Walter on the harmonica, Jimmy Rogers on the guitar, and Baby Face Leroy Foster who would later be replaced by Elgin Evans. Every element of Muddy Waters and his band were the perfect chemistry for explosive performances. They gained recognition and grew exponentially to be the mightiest band in their area. In 1949, Muddy along with Jimmy Rogers and Little Walter had a daily show airing at 6 AM on KFFA in Helena, Arkansas. The King Biscuit Time was a great window to promote their shows and events, which featured many blues artists who would play live in the studio.

The 1950s symbolize the transformation of Aristocrat Records, to become Chess records. At the same time, Muddy’s band would experience some change, with the coming of new members such as the pianist Otis Spann up to the departure of Little Walter (1952) and Jimmy Rogers (1955), who wanted to advance their personal careers. It is during this era that Muddy released songs like "Rollin’ and Trumblin’", "I’m Ready", "Sugar Sweet", "I’m Hoochie Coochie Man", "Mannish Boy", "Trouble No More", "Got My Mojo Working" and "I Just Want To Make Love To You" "Forty Days & Forty Nights", "Don't Go No Farther". These songs were frequently on the top of the R&B charts and are renowned to be among the most influential in the history of electric blues. Muddy Waters's guitar of choice during this period of time was a Gibson Les Paul 1952 Goldtop, equipped with P-90 pickups. Muddy's sound navigated through the prewar era blues to the postwar blues with an electric sound that gave birth to many legendary figures of rock music with an influence that is still consistent today. To name a few, The Rolling Stones named themselves after Muddy’s song, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, Jimmi Smith, Angus Young of AC/DC, and many more of our contemporaries.

By the end of the 1950s, Muddy was still musically productive, though his popularity was slightly declining. Chess records weren’t putting as much energy as they did primarily. While rock and roll were on the rise, and a generation of new artists was upcoming, Muddy had to navigate through the waves of the era. People like Albert James Freed (Alan Freed) introduced the term rock and roll, to a young new audience, in his radio program "The Moondog House". The term rock & roll apparently referred to the rolling surging beat of the music. Freed is known to have helped create a bond between young American teenagers, by presenting them with music by black artists, also organizing live unsegregated concerts. Muddy Waters was a headliner in some of Freed's shows in 1954. In 1957, Muddy acquires a 1958 Fender Telecaster that he named "The Hoss" and would follow him as one of his main guitars through his journey. The fender originally had a white body and a maple neck. Muddy customized its body with candy apple paint, replaced the neck with rosewood and changed the knobs with those of a fender amplifier. In 1958, Muddy made his first tour to England and it is said that the audience was shocked by his performance, in the same way, Marty McFly stunned his audience in the movie "Back To The Future". While the audience was more acquainted with the acoustic folk blues, Muddy came out loud with his electric stormy sound. In order to please his crowd, Muddy would later return to his roots, play more acoustic music, and eventually release the album "Muddy Waters: Folk Singer". The folk blues would be an open door to allow Muddy’s audience to gain a taste for his electric sound.

In 1960, Muddy records his first live album. It is his classic performance at the Newport Jazz Festival, where Muddy has been able to bridge the gap and create a movement for a fresh new generation. This is the same year he recorded the hommage album for Big Bill Broonzy. Three years later (1963), he releases another live album, this time at the folk festival of blues. In the midst of the British Invasion, the U.K. rock and blues scene was emerging to reach the international ground. From there we can hear artists such as Eric Clapton, John Mayall, Alexis Korner, and the Rolling Stones. Muddy was still delivering at full length with musicians like the pianist Pinetop Perkins and James Cotton on the harmonica. Around 1964, Muddy gets himself a 1959 Martin 00-18E acoustic/electric guitar which we can hear the sound in his "Folk Singer" album in collaboration with Buddy Guy. Muddy also played this guitar at the Folk Festival in Newport (1968). Now, the Martin guitar is exposed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame museum in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1967, Muddy also collaborated with Bo Diddley, Little Walter, and Howlin’ Wolf to record the well-known "Super Blues" and "The Super Blues Band". In the meantime, Chess Records' strategy was to market Muddy to a white rock audience, while trying to reach the soul and R&B market. Thus for albums like "Electric Mudd", Muddy collaborated with musicians Pete Cosey and Phil Upchurch (1968). "Electric Mudd" presented some of his previous blues classics in a more electric, heavy rock, that could easily blend with Jimi Hendrix’s sound. After this experimental craze to serve the currents of the market, Muddy was more inclined to make self-defining albums like "After The Rain". On a more bluesy tone, Muddy collaborated with blues rockers Mike Bloomfield and Paul Butterfield on the double LP "Fathers And Sons" (1969). A collaboration that was a dream come true for the two musicians since they were avid fans of Muddy Waters. Other collaborators were Donald Dunn of Booker T. & the M.G.’s, Otis Spann, and Sam Lay. The album contains studio recordings and live recordings. This double LP which was ranked #70 out of the top 200, was Muddy’s most successful project. It is the same year that the Chess brothers sold the label to the 8-track and cassette manufacturer General Recorded Tape for 6.5 million dollars. In 1969 General Recorded Tape created GRT Records, with Janus Records/Pye records, Chess Records, and eventually Sunnyvale Records, to become joint ventures. GRT Records had US and Canadian subsidiaries who were by then based in Toronto. The Label showed to be more successful in Canada than in the US.

In this new environment, Muddy started the 70s by releasing a series of live recordings and compilations. We can find projects like "Back in the Early Days vol. 1 and 2", which is a compilation of songs recorded between 1947 and 1955. "Goin' Home: Live in Paris 1970" was a concert recorded live in France, only to be released in 1992. "Vintage Muddy Waters", another compilation with recordings from 1949 to 1957. In 1971, we can find the compilation "Good news Volume 3" a reissue with rarities in it. Muddy got back on the scene with live recordings from a show at Mister Kelly’s nightclub in Chicago (1971). The following year, he released "The London Muddy Waters Sessions" which was like a sequel to bluesman Howlin Wolf’s "The London Howlin’ Wolf Sessions". Both projects were produced by Norman Dayron of Chess Records. The objective was to create collaborations between the Chicago blues man, and the young British rock Musicians who were influenced by them. This also opened the door to new generations of fans. The album was obviously recorded in London, and Muddy came with two main American musicians who collaborated on the project with him. The main American musicians were, harmonica player Carey Bell Harrington and guitarist Sammy Lawhorn. Other than that, Herbie Lovelle recorded drum sequences on three songs. For the brass instruments, we have contributions of the tenor saxophone player Sheldon Powell, the trombonist Garnett Brown, also the trumpet players Ernie Royal and Joe Newman. Accompanying Muddy on the vocals, we can hear the voice of Rosetta Jeanette Hightower a.k.a. Rosetta Hightower Green. The other collaborators were the British/Irish musicians Roy Gallagher (guitarist), Steve Winwood, and Clive Powel a.k.a George Fortune on the piano and organ, and also Mitch Mitchell (Drums). We also have the contributions of the French multi-instrumentalist Richard Roman Grechko a.k.a Rick Grech as a bass player. For the main collaborator of the projects, it seems that those who really stood out as far as the chemistry and engagement with Muddy were Rory Gallagher, Sammy Lawhorn, and Carey Bell Harrington. Nevertheless, the album is still a magic piece of history for your ears to enjoy. Meanwhile, Muddy experiences the death of his lovely wife Geneva Wade due to cancer. He took two of his kids and moved to a new house in Westmount Illinois. As the show must go on, up to the mid-70s, Muddy released albums like "Can’t Get No Grindin’" where he reassembled a team of his own. He revisits some of his classics from the 50s to the 70s with a raw hard edged sound. Again among his collaborators, are his long-time acolytes Pinetop Perkins on the piano, James Cotton on the harp, also PeeWee Madison, and Sammy Lawhorn on the guitars along with Muddy. The other decent albums to remember along the way are "Unk In Funk" and "Muddy & The Wolf" released in 1974. Also the Muddy Waters Woodstock Album in 1975. This album was recorded in Woodstock, with the collaboration of the multi-instrumentalist Levon Helm and Garth Hudson, all teaming up with Muddy and his tour band. This album is produced in the midst of the Chess record decline in 1975. The transition from label to label cast a shadow on the album until its reissue in 1995. So in 1975, after three decades of productivity with Chess Records, the journey was put to an end. Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon among many other Chess artists filed lawsuits against the label for nonpayment of royalties which they have been able to win.

In 1977, it was Johnny Winter who was a great admirer of Muddy’s work, who helped him get signed to Blue Sky Records. Blue Sky Records is a label organized by Steve Paul, Johnny Winter’s manager. The label’s work was distributed by Colombia Records. Being on board, Muddy started recording « Hard Again » with Johnny Winter’s full collaboration on the production as well as guitar playing and vocal contributions; along with James Cotton on the blues harp harmonica, and Pine Top Perkins on the piano. The other musicians were Charles Calmese on the bass and Willie Smith on the drums. "Hard Again" turns out to be a striking comeback for Muddy with remarkable delivery in all aspects of the production. While Winter is able to capture and reproduce that Chess feel, Muddy feels in his element, and displays his mastery seemingly effortlessly. Up to 1979, Muddy has been able to release two other albums, on Sky Blue Records. The first studio album is "I’m ready" released in 1978. Other musicians like Walter Horton and Jerry Portnoy on the blues harp harmonica, Jimmy Rogers on the guitar, and Bob Margolin on the bass, all came and add on to the band. And let’s not forget Philip hays who made the painting for the cover of the album. The live album is called "Muddy "Mississippi Water" - Live" and was recorded in 1979. Though the difficulties encountered in some of the processes, these major works gave a new spin to Muddy’s career. This collaboration bared fruit, where Johnny Winter and Muddy have been able to win Grammy Awards, for contributing to each other's projects. In 1979, Muddy marries a young woman (19 years old) named Marva Jean Brooks whom he called Sunshine. Eric Clapton served as the best man for their wedding.

In 1981, still on Blue Sky Records, Muddy Waters recorded his last studio album before his departure. The album is titled "King Bee" featuring again, Pinetop Perkins on the piano, Willie Smith on the drums, Jerry Portnoy on the harmonica, Calvin Jones on the bass, and Luther Johnson on the guitar. Muddy started recording "King Bee" in May 1980. The recording was delayed due to the fact that the musicians were not satisfied with their salaries. They were trying to negotiate with Scott Cameron, Muddy’s manager. Scott Cameron suspended the session because the band decided to quit. This situation interfered with Muddy’s creative process to the point that he hasn’t been able to produce enough material to complete the album properly. To complete the album, they used some of the outtakes of the previously recorded "Hard Again". Though the difficulties encountered in some of the processes, these major works accomplished with Blue Sky records gave a new spin to Muddy’s career. This collaboration bared fruit, where Johnny Winter and Muddy have been able to win Grammy Awards, for contributing to each other's projects. In August 1981, Muddy was invited to perform at the great Chicago Fest. He shared the stage with Johnny Winter and Buddy Miles and performs many of his classics to a growing generation of fans. The performance is available to view since 2009 and was released by shout factory. In November of the same year, Muddy performed at the historic Checkboard Lounge in Bronzeville. The Checkboard Lounge was founded by Buddy Guy and L.C. Thurman in 1972. The nightclub is now closed since 2015 at the departure of L.C. Thurman. So Muddy performed there with Mick Jagger, Keith Richard, and Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones. Even if Muddy’s health was getting more fragile, it never showed in his performances. This performance is also available to view since 2012. It is in 1982 that Muddy had to slow down due to his health issues. His last public performance was in Florida during the summer of 1982 where he performed with Eric Clapton and the band.

On April 30, 1983, Mckinley Morganfield better known as Muddy Waters, flies back to the source while sleeping at his home in Westmount Illinois. His heart stopped beating from cancer-related complications. Mckinley Morganfield was transported to the Good Samaritan Hospital in Downer Grove, Illinois where they confirmed his death. The legendary musician was 70 years old. Muddy’s funeral took place on May 4, 1983, at Restvale Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois, where he was buried next to his wife Geneva. A large crowd of musicians and fans came to honor him and give him homage.

Unfortunately, Muddy’s heirs entered into a legal battle with his former manager (Scott Cameron). The legal battles involve the management of the assets, and Royalties owed to the heirs by the Cameron organization. The legal issues haven’t be fully been resolved 37 years after Muddy’s departure.

On a better note, Muddy’s spirit still lives and has been transferred through his children and all those whom he inspired. Among Muddy’s children, there are sons who are also blues singers and musicians. There is Larry "Mud" Morganfield, Big Bill Morganfield, and more recently Joseph "Mojo" Morganfield. There is also his daughters, Rosalind Morganfield and Azelene Spain, who contribute in their own way to Muddy’s Legacy. Beyond this, we can name several artists who followed in his footsteps. The Rolling Stones who named themselves after one of his songs included Muddy in their list of 100 greatest artists of all time; Jimi Hendrix saw Muddy as the archetype of a guitar player; Eric Clapton or Johnny Winter saw Muddy as a father figure. Muddy was at the core of many artists' beginnings. We can name the band Cream who covered "Rollin’ and Tumbling" on their debut album "Fresh Cream" (1966). Among many other artists, the song was also covered by Canned Heat, and Bob Dylan. One of Led Zeppelin’s top hits "Whole Lotta Love" is based on the lyrics of "You Need Love", a song written by Willie Dixon, and originally performed by Muddy Waters. Just to name a few, the song "Hoochie Coochie Man" was covered by Allman Brothers Band, humble Pie, Steppenwolf, Supertramp, Fear, and Jimi Hendrix; Big Daddy Kane sampled Willie Dixon’s performance of the song and RJD2 sampled Muddy’s performance of the song. The Beatles refer to Muddy Waters in their song "Come Together". Van Morrison also refers to Muddy in his song "Cleaning Windows". Besides The Rolling Stones and Buddy Guy, the Metal band Bongzilla Covered Muddy’s "Champagne And Reefer" song. Paul Rogers released the album "Muddy Water Blues: A Tribute to Muddy Waters" (1993). Again, Muddy’s energetic style influenced bands like AC/DC and ZZ Top in many ways. Muddy who contributed to the launching of Chuck Berry’s career is also recognized by B.B. King as a tremendous contributor to America’s music legacy. Martin Scorsese featured Muddy’s music and stories in many of his classic filmed projects etc. In an article in the magazine RollingStone, it is said that "Muddy Waters was a power in the world of rock, as the list of disciples and devotees attests, but he was much more than that. He was a great American singer…".

For instance, Muddy's vacant Stovall plantation cabin became a sanctuary where tourists from around the world would come to visit. In 1987, the guitarist Billy Gibbons from the group Z.Z. Top made what he called "Muddywood" guitars crafted from the planks of Muddy’s old cabin. Apparently, Sid Graves the director of the Delta Blues Museum told Gibbons to take that piece of the cabin as a souvenir. Gibbons went to Memphis and spoke to Rick Rayburn and Rick Hancock, of the Pyramid Guitar Co. In collaboration with Gibbons, they came up with what would be called the Muddywood guitars. Gibbons eventually used the guitars to collect funds and raised a million dollars for the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale. The cabin was really damaged, abandoned with no maintenance, and lost its roof due to a tornado. In the 1990s, the House of Blues leased Muddy’s cabin, renovated it, and transformed it into a mobile museum displaying the legend of humble beginnings across America.

1987 was also the year that Muddy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in addition to the blues Hall Of Fame (1980). Also, was he given a Grammy for his Lifetime achievement (1992). The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame listed four of Muddy’s songs among the 500 songs that shaped Rock and Roll. The songs are: "Rollin’ Stone" released in 1950, "Hoochie Coochie Man" released in 1954, "Mannish Boy" released in 1955, and "Got My Mojo Working" released in 1957.

Two years following Muddy’s departure (1983), the city of Chicago honored him by naming the block section between 900 and 1000 east 43rd Street "Honorary Muddy waters Drive". The Block section is near one of Muddy’s former houses on the south side of Chicago.

In 1994, a portrait of Muddy Waters was put on a commemorative stamp by the U.S. postal service.

The Chicago suburb of Westmount, where Muddy lived a decade before his departure, named a section of Cass Avenue, which was close to his home, "Honorary Muddy Waters Way". This gesture coincided with days of tribute at the village’s summer festival and an exhibit of Muddy waters memorabilia (2005).

In 2008, a plaque was made in Muddy’s honor on the Clarksdale walk of fame in Mississippi. The Plaque location is on Clarksdale Station Train on the Blues Alley.

In 2017, a ten stories mural was commissioned by the Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra for the Chicago blues festival. The mural was done on the side of the building situated at 17 north State street, at the corner of State and Washington street.

Muddy Waters in Movies and Documentaries

From the 1960s until now, there are many documentaries, performing appearances in movies, movies depicting Muddy, live concert performances, or being part of the soundtrack of the movies. A Biopic about Muddy’s Life has yet to come. I haven’t found one so far, but he certainly appears in a couple of movies.

We can see Muddy perform in the documentary "Chicago Blues" (1972) directed by Harley Cokeliss.

We can hear Muddy’s voice in the documentary "Blues Like Showers Of Rain" (1973) directed by John Jeremy.

Muddy delivered a stunning performance of "Mannish Boy" that became one of the highlights of Martin Scorsese's 1978 concert film "The Last Waltz".

Muddy performs in the documentary "Eric Clapton and His Rolling Hotel " (1981) directed by Rex Pyke. The documentary was never officially released.

In 1990, the character Blind Otis Lemon based on Muddy Waters is displayed on the television series "Doogie Howser, M.D."

Muddy appears in "Masters of American Music: Bluesland - A Portrait of American Music" (1993) Directed by Ken Mandel

Muddy also appears in the documentary film series "The Blues" (2003) produced by Martin Scorsese. Along with Scorsese, the directors involved in the episodes of the series are, Wim Wenders, Richard Pearce, Charles Burnett, Marc Levin, Mike Figgis, and Clint Eastwood. The episode is Titled "Feel Like Going Home" and is directed by Scorsese who pays tribute to the Delta blues where he travels, meet peoples, and shows us rare archival footage… Another pertinent episode in relation to Muddy is "Godfathers And Sons" directed by Marc Levin. Marc Levin meets Marshall Chess, the son of Leonard Chess who co-founded Chess Records. We also can see the features of Chuck D (Public Enemy), Common, And Kyle Johnson.

Muddy’s music features in the movie documentary "Down the Tracks: The Music That Influenced Led Zeppelin" (2007) Directed by Stephen Gammond. Where the band displays all the things and people that contributed to their greatness.

"Who Do You Love" Directed By Jerry Zaks (2008) *The life story of legendary record producer Leonard Chess, founder of Chess Records, the label that helped popularize Blues music during the 1950s and ‘60s. Muddy who is played by David Oyelowo appears in the movie as he first introduces himself to Leonard Chess to get his first record deal.

Muddy among other artists is depicted in the movie "Cadillac Records" (2008) the role of Muddy is played by Jeffrey Wright. The Movie is directed by Cadillac Records and is more of a fiction movie centered on the rise of Chess Records. It is inspired by certain truths, where real-life personalities are depicted.

Muddy Waters Awards And Nominations


3rd Annual Grammy Awards (1960) - Nomination - Best Rhythm & Blues Performance: "Got My Mojo Working"

13th Annual Grammy Awards (1970) - Nomination - Best Ethnic Or Traditional Recording (Including Traditional Blues) : "Sail On"

14th Annual Grammy Awards (1971) - Win - Best Ethnic Or Traditional Recording : "They Call Me Muddy Waters"

15th Annual Grammy Awards (1972) - Win - Best Ethnic Or traditional Recording (Including Traditional Blues) : "The London Muddy Waters Session"

16th Annual Grammy Awards (1973) - Nomination - Best Ethnic Or Traditional Recording (Including Traditional Blues) : "Can’t Get No Grindin’" (Album)

17th Annual Grammy Awards (1974) - Nomination - Best Ethnic Or Traditional Recording: "London Revisited" (Album)

18th Annual Grammy Awards (1975) - Win - Best Ethnic Or Traditional Recording: "The Muddy Waters Woodstock Album"

20th Annual Grammy Awards (1977) - Win - Best Ethnic Or Traditional Recording: "Hard Again"

21th Annual Grammy Awards (1978) - Win - Best Ethnic Or traditional Recording: "I’m Ready"

22nd Annual Grammy Awards (1979) - Win - Best Ethnic Or Traditional Recording: "Muddy Mississippi Waters Live"

24th Annual Grammy Awards (1981) - Nomination - Best Ethnic Or Traditional Recording: "Blues Deluxe" (Album)

35th Annual Grammy Awards (1992) - Win - Life Achievement Award

Billboard 200

Album: « King Bee » peaked at #192 on 16/05/1968

Album: « Electric Mud » peaked at #127 on 07/12/1968

Album: « Fathers And Sons » peaked at #70 on 25/10/1969

Album: « Hard Again » peaked at #143 on 12/03/1977

Album: « I’m Ready » peaked at #157 on 25/03/1978

Album: « The Father Of Chicago Blues » peaked at #133 on 01/05/2010

Muddy Waters Quote: « There was a time when I had the blues. I mean I really had it bad. I couldn't pay my light bill and I couldn't pay my rent and I really had the blues. But today I can pay my rent and I can pay the light bill and I still got the blues. So I must been born with 'em . . . That's my religion, the blues is my religion ».


Muddy Waters - Got My Mojo Workin' (Live CBC 1966)

Muddy Waters Official - Biography

American Blues Scene - 16 Facts You Didn’t Know About Muddy Waters: muddy-waters/

Juke Joints: Blues Places of Power:

What Guitars Did Muddy Waters Play? By JD Nash

Interview ITV channel - A Chance To Meet... Muddy Waters - 1981

Spontaneous Lunacy - Aristocrat Records

Alan Freed - Rock & Roll All Of Fame

Muddy Waters: 1915–1983

An obituary of the blues legend, with memories from Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, Keith Richards and more

Four-year legal battle over estate of legendary blues musician Muddy Waters continues in DuPage courtroom

IMBD - Muddy Waters

Westmont happy to have the blues

Muddy Waters Nominations And Wins

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