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Muddy Waters Invented Electricity

Muddy Waters was the key transitional figure from the old single guitar country blues into the urban Chicago blues. Fortunately we have the early Library of Congress recordings by Alan Lomax to be able to hear Muddy playing down home before he had a record contract.  It was just Muddy playing acoustic guitar using traditional lyrics to a jump beat.  By the time he was "discovered" he was running his own juke joint on the plantation where he worked.  At that time, the blues were a dance music.  People wanted a steady beat and the lyrics were almost an after thought.  It is when they started recording that blues players had to make changes for the medium.  Like the 78's only went about three minutes.  So they had to have tight compositions with interesting lyrics to satisfy the buying public.

For those of you who got there information about Muddy Waters from the movie Cadillac Records, please take it with a big grain of salt.  First of all, Muddy was touring the south long before he met the Chess brothers.  Furthermore, Leonard Chess resisted the idea of Muddy recording with a band.  Since he had hits just playing the electric guitar by himself, Chess didn't want to change the winning formula.  furthermore, Muddy Waters had toured Europe long before the Rolling Stones had formed as a group.  He got booed in England because he performed with his electric band.  The audience, only having heard his early work, expected him to be a solo act.  They thought the electric band was a sign of  Muddy selling out, no longer being an authentic blues man.  Keith Richards remark in his book, Life, that the blues snobs like their blues men bare footed and in overalls, playing acoustic guitar.  What groups like the Stone, The Animals, Eric Clapton did for the blues was introduce them to white American audiences.  They were all shocked that these men were unknown in their home land.  The real Muddy Waters was far from a fool.  He was a sharp dressed smart individual in his own way.  He grew up under the plantation system of the deep South.  He expected an uneven paternalistic relationship to exist between him in the white bosses.  That didn't mean that he didn't understand that they might be skimming off his royalties, but he was used to working within this system.  He was favorite on his old plantation.  The owner allowed him to  operate a juke joint and to sell bootleg whiskey, as long as Muddy gave the man his cut.   So when Muddy wanted a house, he just went to the Chess Records offices and expected them to handle it, which they did.


But the Muddy Waters 1950's Band with Little Walter on harp, Jimmy Rogers on second guitar,  Otis span on piano, Ernest Crawford on bass and Elgin Evens on drums was what really changed the history of jazz.  This was the band. with various line up changes that moved the blues into a big time money maker in the black community.  With hits like Hoochie Coochie man, Just want to make love to you they dominated the charts.
holloway64 holloway64 46-50, M 1 Response Dec 15, 2012

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Nice accurate post of blues history H,i enjoyed Cadillac Records thought Beyonce burnt the screen up as Etta.....bit disappointed that Willie Dixon was not represented though.

Do you mean that Willie Dixion wasn't represented well by Sedric the Entertainer?

Not enough for my liking H,Willie was more than just the bass player at Chess.