McKinley Morganfield (April 4, 1915 – April 30, 1983), known as Muddy Waters, was an American blues musician, generally considered "the Father of Chicago blues". Blues musicians Big Bill Morganfield and Larry "Mud Morganfield" Williams are his sons. A major inspiration for the British blues explosion in the 1960s, Muddy was ranked #17 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
Hard Again is a 1977 Chicago-style electric blues album by Muddy Waters. It was recorded by its producer, Johnny Winter, in a rough, bare-bones style. After several lackluster records, this was Waters's comeback album.
The album won a Grammy Award in 1977 for "Best Ethnic or Traditional Recording"
Muddy's long-time wife Geneva died of cancer on March 15, 1973. A very devastated Muddy was taken to a doctor and told to quit smoking, which he did. Gaining custody of some of his "outside kids", he moved them into his home, eventually buying a new house in suburban, mostly white Westmont, IL. Another teenage daughter turned up while on tour in New Orleans; Big Bill Morganfield was introduced to his Dad after a gig in Florida. Florida was also where Muddy met his future wife, the 19-year-old Marva Jean Brooks whom he nicknamed "Sunshine".
On November 25, 1976, Muddy Waters performed at The Band's farewell concert at Winterland in San Francisco. The concert was released as both a record and a film, The Last Waltz, featuring a performance of "Mannish Boy" with Paul Butterfield on harmonica.
In 1977 Johnny Winter convinced his label, Blue Sky, to sign Muddy, the beginning of a fruitful partnership. His "comeback" LP, Hard Again, was recorded in just two days and was a return to the original Chicago sound he had created 25 years earlier, thanks to Winter's production. Former sideman James Cotton contributed harmonica on the Grammy Award-winning album and a brief but well-received tour followed.
The Muddy Waters Blues Band at the time included guitarists Bob Margolin and Luther Johnson, pianist Pinetop Perkins, harmonica player Jerry Portnoy, bassist Calvin "Fuzz" Jones and drummer Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. On "Hard Again", Winter played guitar in addition to producing; Muddy asked James Cotton to play harp on the session, and Cotton brought his own bassist Charles Calmese. According to Margolin's liner notes, Muddy did not play guitar during these sessions. The album covers a broad spectrum of styles, from the opening of "Mannish Boy", with shouts and hollers throughout, to the old-style Delta blues of "I Can't Be Satisfied", with a National Steel solo by Winter, to Cotton's screeching intro to "The Blues Had a Baby", to the moaning closer "Little Girl". Its live feel harks back to the Chess Records days, and it evokes a feeling of intimacy and cooperative musicianship. The expanded reissue includes one bonus track, a remake of the 1950s single "Walking Through the Park". The other outtakes from the album sessions appear on King Bee. Margolin's notes state that the reissued album was remastered but that remixing was not considered to be necessary. Hard Again was the first studio collaboration between Waters and Winter, who produced his final four albums, the others being I'm Ready, King Bee, and Muddy "Mississippi" Waters - Live, for Blue Sky, a Columbia Records subsidiary.
In 1978 Winter recruited two of Muddy's cohorts from the early '50s, Big Walter Horton and Jimmy Rogers, and brought in the rest of his touring band at the time (harmonica player Jerry Portnoy, guitarist Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson, and bassist Calvin Jones) to record Waters' I'm Ready LP, which came close to the critical and commercial success of Hard Again.
The comeback continued in 1979 with the lauded LP Muddy "Mississippi" Waters Live. "Muddy was loose for this one," wrote Jas Obrecht in Guitar Player, "and the result is the next best thing to being ringside at one of his foot-thumping, head-nodding, downhome blues shows." On the album, Muddy is accompanied by his touring band, augmented by Johnny Winter on guitar. The set list contains most of his biggest hits, and the album has an energetic feel. King Bee the following year concluded Waters' reign at Blue Sky, and these last four LPs turned out to be his biggest-selling albums ever. King Bee was the last album Muddy Waters recorded. Coming last in a trio of studio outings produced by Johnny Winter, it is also a mixed bag. During the sessions for King Bee, Waters, his manager, and his band were involved in a dispute over money. According to the liner notes by Bob Margolin, the conflict arose from Waters' health being on the wane and consequently playing fewer engagements. The bandmembers wanted more money for each of the fewer gigs they did play in order to make ends meet. Ultimately a split occurred and the entire band quit. Because of the tensions in the studio preceding the split, Winter felt the sessions had not produced enough solid material to yield an entire album. He subsequently filled out King Bee with outtakes from earlier Blue Sky sessions and the cover photograph was by David Michael Kennedy. For the listener, King Bee is a leaner and meaner record. Less of the good-time exuberance present on the previous two outings is present here. The title track, "Mean Old Frisco", "Sad Sad Day", and "I Feel Like Going Home", are all blues with ensemble work. The Sony Legacy issue features completely remastered sound and Margolin's notes, and also hosts two bonus tracks from the King Bee sessions that Winter didn't see fit to release the first time.
In 1981, Waters was invited to perform at ChicagoFest, the city's top outdoor music festival. He was joined onstage by Johnny Winter — who had successfully produced Waters’ most recent albums — and played classics like “Mannish Boy,” “Trouble No More” and “Mojo Working” to a new generation of fans. This historic performance was made available on DVD in 2009 by Shout! Factory.
In 1982, declining health dramatically curtailed Muddy's performance schedule. Muddy Waters' last public performance took place when he sat in with Eric Clapton's band at a Clapton concert in Florida in autumn of 1982.
His influence is tremendous, over a variety of music genres: blues, rhythm and blues, rock 'n' roll, folk, jazz, and country. He also helped Chuck Berry get his first record contract.
His 1958 tour of England marked possibly the first time amplified, modern urban blues was heard there, although on his first tour he was the only one amplified. His backing was provided by Englishman Chris Barber's trad jazz group. (One critic retreated to the toilets to write his review because he found the band so loud).
The Rolling Stones named themselves after his 1950 song "Rollin' Stone", (also known as "Catfish Blues", which Jimi Hendrix covered as well). Hendrix recalled "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". Cream covered "Rollin' and Tumblin'" on their 1966 debut album Fresh Cream, as Eric Clapton was a big fan of Muddy Waters when he was growing up, and his music influenced Clapton's music career. The song was also covered by Canned Heat at the legendary Monterey Pop Festival and later adapted by Bob Dylan on the album Modern Times. One of Led Zeppelin's biggest hits, "Whole Lotta Love", is lyrically based upon the Muddy Waters hit "You Need Love", written by Willie Dixon. Dixon wrote some of Muddy Waters' most famous songs, including "I Just Want to Make Love to You" (a big radio hit for Etta James, as well as the 1970s rock band Foghat), "Hoochie Coochie Man," which The Allman Brothers Band famously covered, and "I'm Ready", which was covered by Humble Pie. In 1993, Paul Rodgers released the album Muddy Water Blues: A Tribute to Muddy Waters, on which he covered a number of Muddy Waters songs, including "Louisiana Blues", "Rollin' Stone", "Hoochie Coochie Man" and "I'm Ready" (among others) in collaboration with a number of famous guitarists such as Brian May and Jeff Beck.
Angus Young of the rock group AC/DC has cited Muddy Waters as one of his influences. The song title "You Shook Me All Night Long" came from lyrics of the Muddy Waters song "You Shook Me", written by Willie Dixon and J. B. Lenoir. Earl Hooker first recorded it as an instrumental which was then overdubbed with vocals by Muddy Waters in 1962.
Muddy Waters' songs have been featured in long-time fan Martin Scorsese's movies, including The Color of Money, Casino and Goodfellas. Muddy Waters' 1970s recording of his mid-'50s hit "Mannish Boy" (a.k.a. "I'm A Man") was used in Goodfellas and the hit film Risky Business.
Screenwriter David Simon has written an unproduced teleplay about Muddy Waters' life.
The 2006 Family Guy episode "Saving Private Brian" includes a parody of Muddy Waters trying to pass a kidney stone; his screams of pain form a call and response with the Chicago blues band in his bathroom.
In 2008, Jeffrey Wright portrayed Muddy in the biopic Cadillac Records, a film about the rise and fall of Chess Records and the lives of its recording artists. A second 2008 film about Leonard Chess and Chess Records, Who Do You Love, also covers Muddy's time at Chess Records.
On April 30, 1983 Muddy Waters died in his sleep, at his home in Westmont, Illinois. At his funeral at Restvale Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois, throngs of blues musicians and fans showed up to pay tribute to one of the true originals of the art form. "Muddy was a master of just the right notes," John P. Hammond, told Guitar World magazine.
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