Muddy Waters was born 100 years ago today. He was known as the father of modern Chicago blues, and rock 'n' roll wouldn't have been the same without him.
The Rolling Stones (who continue to roll - they announced another tour yesterday) are named after one of his songs, and Van Morrison once said "Muddy Waters is a prime influence for anyone who's ever done anything rock 'n' roll."
Muddy was born in Mississippi back in 1913.
His birth name was McKinley Morganfield, but his grandmother gave him the nickname 'Muddy' because as a kid, he loved playing in the Deer Creek mud along the Mississippi River.
His early life was tough: he was raised in a shack on a plantation by his grandmother after his mother died young (the shack is now on display at Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Mississippi).
Along the way, he started playing the blues for local sharecroppers at Saturday night fish fries - first on harmonica, and by the time he was 17, on guitar.
Eventually, he would take the sound of the Delta Blues north to Chicago, moving there in 1943.
Muddy's first single came out in 1948 - "I Can't Be Satisfied" backed with "I Feel Like Going Home," two traditional Mississippi Delta-style pieces. Check out the a-side below:
Waters' use of amplified guitars was a new twist on tradition, and according to his official website, he became "the most influential recording artist in the new amplified blues idiom."
His style would change Chicago's blues scene, and eventually spread across the Atlantic, where young bands like the Stones would be inspired by Waters.
In 1981, the Stones got the chance to play with their idol at Checkerboard Lounge. Here's 'Baby Please Don't Go' from that performance:
Led Zeppelin was also strongly influenced by Waters - their tune 'Whole Lotta Love' is lyrically based on 'You Need Love', which was a big hit for Waters (it was written by Willie Dixon). Check out Zeppelin's tune and Muddy's below:
Waters also played at the concert that would form the basis for Martin Scorsese's documentary 'The Last Waltz'. His music almost didn't make it into the film - only one camera was rolling when the iconic performance of 'Mannish Boy' took place.
Luckily, it was enough. Check that out below:
Here's Waters performing his slow blues, 'Long Distance Call', in Dortmund, Germany in the late '70s:
Waters died in his sleep on April 30, 1983. His funeral was packed and a few years later, sections of two Chicago streets were renamed in his honour.
After his death, B.B. King told Guitar World "it's going to be years and years before most people realize how greatly he contributed to American music."