Muddy Waters

Waters, Muddy, 1915–83, African-American blues singer and guitarist, b. Rolling Fork, Miss., as McKinley Morganfield. As a teenager he began singing and playing traditional country blues on harmonica and guitar, and in 1941 he was recorded by Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress. Two years later he settled in Chicago, where he switched from Delta blues to a more sophisticated urban rhythm and blues, using an electric guitar backed by other amplified instruments. He soon became known for his driving slide guitar technique and darkly expressive vocal style. From the 1950s on Waters recorded, toured, and played various music festivals. His electric blues influenced such American musicians as Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan and such British rockers as the Rolling Stones, who took their name from a Waters song, and Eric Clapton, who recorded with him.

See J. Rooney, Bossmen: Bill Monroe and Muddy Waters (1991); S. B. Tooze, Muddy Waters (1997); R. Gordon, Can't Be Satisfied (2002).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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