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2. Muddy Waters

| March 31, 2008

The 20 All-Time Greatest Chicago Guitarists

2. Muddy Waters

When future Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductee and Grammy winner Muddy Waters (aka McKinley Morganfield) came to Chicago in 1943 from Clarksdale, Mississippi, he had no idea he would alter the American musical landscape irrevocably, paving the way for a musical revolution.

Waters was the first Delta bluesman to make the successful transition from acoustic to electric blues guitar. He added other textures to the Delta moan of the lone blues guitarist, employing a four-piece band that would become the prototype for future blues and rock bands worldwide. Waters’ heavily amplified slide guitar, his rich and powerful vocals, and his churchified delivery influenced generations of musicians from Otis Rush and Buddy Guy to Michael Bloomfield and Keith Richards. His sidemen were equally ferocious musicians like Little Walter, Otis Spann, James Cotton, and Pinetop Perkins. This new sound was captured masterfully by Chess Records in the ’50s, with a string of hits such as “Louisiana Blues,” “Long Distance Call,” “Honey Bee,” “I Can’t Be Satisfied,” “Rollin’ Stone,” and so many others.

In the 1972 documentary Chicago Blues, Waters matter-of-factly summed up his importance, stating “I think I’m responsible for Chicago Blues. I think I’m the man that set Chicago up for the real blues.”

— Beverly Zeldin-Palmer

20 – 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Category: Features, Monthly

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