Muddy Waters, the king of Chicago blues and the man who paved the way for Bob Dylan to fearlessly “plug in” his electric guitar, was born McKinley Morganfield on April 4, 1915, in Rolling Fork, Mississippi.
Growing up in the Delta, Waters was exposed to the blues at an early age. He learned to play the harmonica when he was 5 years old and taught himself to play the guitar when he was 17. Although he spent a majority of his time working as a sharecropper in the cotton fields, Waters found time to entertain and pursue his music career.
He joined the Silas Green Tent Show in 1941 and began to gain recognition after he caught the ears of Alan Lomax and John Work, archivists/researchers for the Library of Congress Field Recording.
By the time Waters took his talents to Chicago in 1943, the music scene was starting to take shape there. At night, he was working his way to becoming one of the most popular blues musicians. By 1946, he began making recordings for labels such as RCA and Columbia Records.
It wasn't until the 1950s when his recording career really took off on Chess Records with hits like "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man" and "Got My Mojo Working." His song "Rollin' Stone" became so popular that it influenced the name of the major music magazine as well as one of the most famous rock bands to date.
While he was gaining nationwide success, he became an international star in 1958 when he and his band brought the blues sound to England. He continued to record all across the globe and finally won his first Grammy Award in 1971 for the album They Call Me Muddy Waters.
By the time of his death from a heart attack on April 30, 1983, he had accumulated six Grammy Awards. He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.
Follow Dominique Zonyéé on Twitter: @DominiqueZonyee.
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