McKinley Morganfield (aka Muddy Waters) was born on April 4, 1913 in Jug’s Corner, Mississippi. Although he first started playing the blues on harmonica, by age 17 Muddy was playing local parties and juke joints on acoustic guitar. In 1940, Waters moved to Chicago for the first time but soon returned to Mississippi. During 1943, he returned to Chicago for good. In 1945, Muddy was given his first electric guitar from his uncle, Joe Grant, and the rest as they say is history. In 1950, Muddy recorded Rollin’ Stone, a song one decade later five young white, English lads would take as the name of their band, who would become the world’s greatest rock and roll band, The Rolling Stones. Over the years, Waters would have as his backing band some of the most respected sidemen in blues history, including Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers, Pinetop Perkins, Otis Spann, James Cotton, Calvin “Fuzz” Jones and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith.
In 1977, Waters recorded Hard Again, a comeback album of sorts, that featured Johnny Winter on guitar, producer and miscellaneous screaming. The first song on the album is a blistering, powerful remake of his 1955 classic, Mannish Boy. For anyone who is not familiar with the music of Mr. Waters, this is the album to start with. If I could only own twelve albums, this would be one. Listening to the CD as I type, track six has just begun, The Blues Had A Baby And They Named It Rock And Roll. Yes, indeed!
These photos were shot at a very small bar on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, USA, and as such the lighting was not very conducive to one wanting to photograph arguably the greatest bluesman of all time. As a matter of fact, of the two or three rolls of film I shot that night, only one print actually looked worthy of posting on my blog. All others came back underdeveloped. With the use of my computer, I was able to adjust the color and contrast levels to make them presentable. The one print that looked half-way decent didn’t even make the final cut to this post. And as always, what appears on your computer screen never compares to my original print or scan.
I have always thought the location of this show was Stache’s & Little Brothers. However, when doing some research it seems the location was a place called the High Street Brewing Company, but this might be the same locale, only under a different name. The date of the show was either Sunday February 8, 1981 or Tuesday November 3, 1981, as it seems that Waters played at this bar twice during that year.
Muddy Waters passed away in Chicago on April 30, 1983. The blues are rock and roll and Muddy Waters is the blues!
Steven H. Spring