back to profile

Muddy Waters


1913

McKinley Morganfield - a.k.a. Muddy Waters - is born in Rolling Fork, Mississippi.

1932

Muddy Waters sells a horse to buy his first guitar, a Stella acoustic ordered from a catalog for $2.50.

1941

While on a field trip through the South, folklorists Alan Lomax and John Work record Muddy Waters (then in his mid-twenties) for the Library of Congress. He would return to record him some more in July 1942.

1943

Muddy Waters takes the train from Clarksdale, Mississippi, to Chicago, Illinois, where he’ll seek fame and fortune as a blues musician.

1946

Muddy Waters cuts his first sides after his move to Chicago. Recorded for the Columbia label, they remain unreleased until 1971.

1947

Muddy Waters and Sunnyland Slim record together at Waters’ first session for Aristocrat Records. “Gypsy Woman” is the first record released under Waters’ name.

1948

Muddy Waters’ “I Can’t Be Satisfied” is released. Striking a chord with transplanted Southerners, it sells out in Chicago and becomes Waters’ breakthrough.

1950

“Rollin’ Stone,” credited to “Muddy Waters & his guitar,” becomes one of the first releases on Chess Records, formed after brothers Leonard and Phil Chess buy out their partner at Aristocrat Records.

1953

Muddy Waters assembles the world’s greatest blues band, having added harmonica player Little Walter, second guitarist Jimmy Rogers and pianist Otis Spann.

1954

Muddy Waters scores one of his biggest hits when “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man” hits #3 on Billboard’s R&B chart. This memorable year will also yield “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” “I’m Ready,” “Mannish Boy” and “Trouble No More.”

1955

“Mannish Boy,” Muddy Waters’ signature song, is released. It will reach #5 on the R&B chart.

1957

The Best of Muddy Waters, a collection of singles, becomes the bluesman’s first long-player. It would be re-released in 1969 as Sail On.

1958

“Close to You,” by Muddy Waters, enters the R&B chart, where it will peak at #9. It is the last of Waters’ string of sixteen charting singles.

1959

Muddy Waters Sings Big Bill is released on Chess Records. On it, Waters plays songs associated with acoustic bluesman Big Bill Broonzy, who died the previous year.

1960

Muddy Waters closes the Newport Folk Festival with a historic set that is preserved on the classic album Muddy Waters at Newport 1960.

1971

Muddy Waters receives his first Grammy Award (“Best Ethnic or Traditional Recording”) for the album They Call Me Muddy Waters.

1972

The London Muddy Waters Sessions, on which Waters is joined by some of Britain’s hottest blues musicians, is released.

1974

Muddy Waters’ final release for Chess Records, The Muddy Waters Woodstock Album, is released shortly before the label ceases operations.

1976

Muddy Waters performs “Mannish Boy,” backed by The Band and Paul Butterfield, at The Band’s farewell concert, The Last Waltz. Waters is introduced to a new generation of fans when film documentary of the event hits movie theaters.

1977

Hard Again, by Muddy Waters, is released. It is the first of four albums on which fellow bluesman Johnny Winter is involved, and it will win Waters his fourth Grammy.

1978

Muddy Waters performs for President Jimmy Carter and his staff at the White House.

1981

Muddy Waters wins the sixth and last Grammy Award of his career, for Muddy “Mississippi” Waters Live, released the previous year.

1983

Having been diagnosed with lung cancer the previous year, Muddy Waters dies in his sleep of a heart attack.

1987

Muddy Waters is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the 2nd annual induction dinner. Paul Butterfield is his presenter.

1993

The Complete Plantation Recordings of Muddy Waters, comprising field recordings made in 1941 and 1942, is released on MCA Records.

2000

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honors’ Muddy Waters’ legacy with a month-long tribute and celebration.

Muddy Waters