Music History Calendar

Music History Of The Week

Music History Archive

Muddy Waters

On 04/04/1913: Muddy Waters was born in Issaquena County, Mississippi, probably. His birthplace and date are not clear. He stated he was born in Rolling Fork, Mississippi in 1915 but it is believed he was born in 1913 in Mississippi. His birth name was McKingley Morganfield. He was raised by his grandmother after his mother died shortly after his birth. She would call him Muddy from an early age because he loved to play in a nearby muddy creek called Deer Creek. The second part of his nickname, Waters, came later when he began to play the harmonica and perform in his early teens. The remains of the cabin on Stovall Plantation where he grew up is now at the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He would first get involved in music at church, where he would sing. By the age of 17, Waters had purchased his first guitar, a Stella ordered from Sears-Roebuck in Chicago. He would start to perform in nearby joints, mostly in a plantation owned by Colonel William Howard Stovall.
In 1941, Alan Lomax visited Stovall to record country blues musicians for the Library of Congress. He recorded Waters and later sent him two copies and a check for 20 bucks.
In 1942, Lomax came back again to record Waters.
In 1943, Waters moved to Chicago to become a full-time musician. At first, he lived with a relative whilst driving a truck and working in a factory by and performing at night. He would open for Big Bill Broonzy which gave him the opportunity to play in front of a large audience.
In 1944, Muddy bought his first electric guitar and formed an electric combo.
In 1946, Waters recorded songs for Mayo Williams at Columbia Records. The songs would not be released at the time. Later in 1946, Waters recorded for Aristocrat Records run by Leonard and Phil Chess.
In 1947, Waters played the guitar with Sunnyland Slim on the songs "Gypsy Woman" and "Little Anna Mae". The recordings weren't released at the time.
In 1948, the songs "I Can't Be Satisfied" and "I Feel Like Going Home" became big hits for Waters and his popularity in clubs increased. Aristocrat Records changed their name to Chess Records and Muddy's song "Rollin' Stone" became a hit later in the year. Chess wouldn't allow Muddy to use his working band in the studio. Instead, he had bass provided by Ernest "Big" Crawford or by musicians assembled for the session including "Baby Face" Leroy Foster and Johnny Jones.
In 1950, Waters released the song "Rollin' Stone". The song would later give the name to the band The Rolling Stones.
In 1952, Little Walter Jacobs who was part of Water's band left when he had a hit with the song "Juke". He would still continue to record with Waters.
By 1953, Waters was recording with his own pick of musicians. He had Little Walter Jacobs on harmonica, Jimmy Rogers on guitar, Elga Edmonds on drums, and Otis Spann on piano. They also sometimes had bassist and songwriter Willie Dixon. Dixon wrote songs such as "Hoochie Coochie Man", "I Just Want to Make Love to You" and "I'm Ready." for Waters to play.
In 1955, Rogers left the band to work exclusively on his own band. Also in 1955, Waters had hits with "Mannish Boy" and "Sugar Sweet".
In 1956, Waters had hits with "Trouble No More," "Forty Days & Forty Nights", and "Don't Go No Farther".
During the 1950s, Waters was one of the biggest names in the Chicago Blues scene.
In 1958, Waters toured England and made an impression on audiences who were not used to loud amplified electric guitar.
In 1960, Waters performed at the Newport Jazz Festival.
In 1967, Waters joined Bo Diddley, Little Walter, and Howlin' Wolf to record the albums "Super Blues" and "The Super Super Blues Band".
In 1971, Waters' performance at Mister Kelly's, a nightclub in Chicago was recorded and released. In December, Waters, Carey Bell and Sammy Lawhorn went to England to record "The London Muddy Waters Sessions". It also featured Rory Gallagher, Mitch Mitchell, and Georgie Fame.
In 1972, he won a Grammy for "They Call Me Muddy Waters".
In 1973, Waters won another Grammy for "London Session".
In 1975, Waters won a Grammy for "The Muddy Waters Woodstock Album". The album also featured Bob Margolin, Pinetop Perkins, Paul Butterfield, Levon Helm and Garth Hudson.
In 1978, Waters won a Grammy for "Hard Again".
In 1979, Waters won a Grammy for "I'm Ready".
In 1980, Waters won a Grammy for "Muddy 'Mississippi' Waters Live". Also in 1980, Waters was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame.
In 1981, Waters played at ChicagoFest and was joined onstage by Johnny Winter who had produced the last few Waters' albums. Also in 1981, he performed with the Rolling Stones at the Checkerboard Lounge.
In 1982, Waters made his last performance when he sat in with Eric Clapton's band at a concert in Florida.
On 30/04/1983, Waters died in his sleep from heart failure in Westmont, Illinois.
In 1985, Chicago designated a one block section near Waters' former home as "Honorary Muddy Waters Drive". The suburb near where Muddy lived at the end of his life had a section named "Honorary Muddy Waters Way".
In 1987, Waters was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In 1992, Waters was posthumously given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
A Mississippi Blues Trail marker has been placed in Clarksdale, Mississippi by the Mississippi Blues Commission at the site of Muddy Waters' cabin.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has listed four Muddy Waters songs as being part of the 500 songs that shaped Rock and Roll. The songs are "Rollin' Stone", "Hoochie Coochie Man", "Mannish Boy" and "Got My Mojo Working".

The Music History Calendar is written by the Blues Rock artist Marshland Pete
If you would like more, come join our Music News and History Facebook Group Community