McKinley Morganfield (April 4, 1913 – April 30, 1983), known as Muddy Waters, was an American blues musician, generally considered the "father of modern Chicago blues". He was 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. His influence is tremendous, over a variety of music genres: blues, rhythm and blues, rock 'n' roll, hard rock, 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. Led Zeppelin also covered this song on their debut album Led Zeppelin.
Muddy Waters' songs have been featured in long-time fan Martin Scorsese's movies, including The Color of Money, Goodfellas and Casino. 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, and also features in the rockumentary The Last Waltz.
The song Come Together by The Beatles references Muddy Waters. "He roller coaster/he got Muddy Waters." 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.
In the 2009 film The Boat that Rocked about pirate radio in the UK, the cryptic message that late night DJ Bob gives to Carl to give to Carl's mother is "Muddy Waters Rocks."
In 1990, the television show Doogie Howser, M.D. showed an episode called "Doogie Sings the Blues" with the main character, Blind Otis Lemon based on Muddy Waters, with references of his influence on the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, along with the performance of "Got My Mojo Working" by Blind Otis Lemon. He is also referred to as the original "Hoochie Coochie Man".
On April 30, 1983 Muddy Waters died in his sleep from heart failure, 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. "It was profound guitar playing, deep and simple... more country blues transposed to the electric guitar, the kind of playing that enhanced the lyrics, gave profundity to the words themselves." Two years after his death, Chicago honored him by designating the one-block section between 900 and 1000 E. 43rd Street near his former home on the south side "Honorary Muddy Waters Drive" The Chicago suburb of Westmont, where Waters lived the last decade of his life, named a section of Cass Avenue near his home "Honorary Muddy Waters Way". Following Waters' death, fellow blues musician B.B. King (who was hugely influenced by Waters) told Guitar World, "It's going to be years and years before most people realize how greatly he contributed to American music". Attesting to the historic place of Muddy Waters in the development of the blues in Mississippi, a Mississippi Blues Trail marker has been placed in Clarksdale, Mississippi by the Mississippi Blues Commission designating the site of Muddy Waters' cabin to commemorate his importance.
Muddy Waters at the opening of Peaches Records & Tapes in Rockville, Maryland
|Birth name||McKinley Morganfield|
|Born||April 4, 1913|
Issaquena County, Mississippi, United States
|Died||April 30, 1983 (aged 70)|
Westmont, Illinois, United States
|Genres||Blues, Chicago blues, country blues, electric blues|
|Occupations||Singer, songwriter, guitarist, bandleader|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, harmonica.|
|Years active||1941 – 1982|
|Labels||Aristocrat, Chess, Testament|
|Gibson Les Paul|