Muddy Waters a True Blues Legend

By Camille Adams-Lonzer

Meet McKinley Morganfield also known as Muddy Waters. Born in Issaquena County, Mississippi on April 4th 1913. He was destined from birth to play the blues.

He grew to become one of the most influential artist in blues as his sound was unique compared to other players from the delta. As he continued throughout his career he would develop his own style of blues that would become popular in the Windy City. 

The Road to Becoming a Legend

When Muddy Waters was 17 years old he received his first guitar. He learned how to play it by mimicking the musicians he grew up around in the Mississippi Delta which was where blues was born. From there he learned the classic style of Delta blues which consisted of turning old work songs of pain and sorrow into more slightly more upbeat songs about the struggles of life. The music was filled with guitar riffs, syncopation and the time old call and response. As Waters mastered this style he would go around and play for folks and at one point he traveled around with the Silas Green Tent show as a performer. It wasn’t long until he was discovered by Alan Lomax and John Work. Lomax was known for discovering the best blues musicians as he was recording the sounds of the delta for the Library of Congress. This discovery birthed the first ever songs Muddy Waters recorded. In 1943 During the time of the great migration Waters along with many other African Americans moved north for better opportunities. This is when he became the legend all Chicagoan’s know and love. In Chicago he transformed the classic delta blues music into electric blues. With his electric guitar he got as a gift he would rock the Chicago blues scene every night with his band. The band was compromised of Waters as lead guitarist, a harmonica player named Little Walter, a drummer, a pianist, and another guitarist. They would mix the original style of the delta with the grooviness of a band and added sultry vocals from Waters and Walters to create the electric blues. From that point on Waters elevated the blues into something more fit for the night life of a bustling city, and for that he became a legend.    

In Closing...

In closing Muddy Waters not only gave the blues a breath of fresh air, but also left a lasting impact on the entire city of Chicago. When you enter any blues bar in the city you are reminded of the profound influence he had. Not only is his influence on the city where he developed his style, but it’s also in the rock genre. It is said that his band was the early beginnings of a rock band and that his electric blues style gave life to the rock genre. Overall, Muddy Waters was one of the greatest blues musicians to come out of the delta.   

Wade in the Muddy Waters! Listen to Some Music Here

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