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Summary Article: Muddy Waters (1915–1983)
from African American Almanac
Guitarist, Harmonica Player, Singer

Muddy Waters, who was born McKinley Morganfield on April 4, 1915, in Fork, Mississippi, grew up in Clarks-dale on Stovall's Plantation. Waters was raised by his grandmothers after his mother died in 1918. He taught himself how to play the harmonica and later took up the guitar by the age of seventeen. He began running a juke joint and performing concerts. In 1941 Alan Lomax from the Library of Congress went to Sto-vall to record country and blues musicians and recorded Waters. As a result, the sessions were released in 1942 as Down On Stovalls Plantation. Waters moved to Chicago in 1943 to pursue a professional career. After working as a side man for Chess Records, Waters recorded “I Feel Like Going Home” in 1948, which became his first national hit on the rhythm and blues charts.

In the 1950s Waters was recording with blues artists Little Walter Jacobs, Jimmy Rogers, Elgin Evans, Otis Spann, and Big Crawford making them the hottest group at the time. Waters and his band released “I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man,” “Got My Mojo Working,” “Tiger in Your Tank,” and “Mannish Boy” As the members of the band branched out on their own, Waters and his country blues on the electric guitar continued to gain attention, including young white British groups such as Eric Clapton and Mike Bloomfield.

Waters played at Carnegie Hall and the New Port Jazz Festival in 1960, and in the 1970s established the Muddy Waters Production Company. Waters won six Grammy Awards between 1971 and 1979, and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1980. Muddy Waters died in his sleep from heart failure on April 30, 1983.

Copyright © 2012 by Visible Ink Press®

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