THE DELTA 351 MUDDY WATERS Called the “undisputed king of Chicago blues singers” by the late blues historian Robert Palmer, Mississippi native Muddy Waters was one of the greatest ambassadors of the Mississippi Delta style of blues. While playing a significant role in the evo- lution of rock and roll, his powerful blues inspired musicians and songwriters all over the world. Born McKinley Morganfield on April 4, 1915, in Rolling Fork, Muddy was raised by his maternal grandmother on the Stovall Plantation near Clarksdale, where he worked and later ran a juke joint out of his home. He was first recorded in the early 1940s by celebrated folklorist Alan Lomax, who had traveled to the Mississippi Delta to record local musicians for the Library of Congress. Soon after, he moved to Chicago where he became the premier blues artist for Chess Records. When Muddy Waters traveled to Europe in 1958, his pioneering electric blues captivated audiences. His Mississippi Delta roots blended with the new amplified electric music pro- duced powerful blues that would influence multiple genres of music and inspire future artists. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards named their band after his 1950 hit song “Rollin’ Stone” which also served as the inspiration for the Bob Dylan hit “Like a Rolling Stone” and the well-known magazine, Rolling Stone. From Carnegie Hall in the late 1950s to his dynamic performance in San Francisco at “The Last Waltz” in 1978, Muddy Waters thrilled audiences all over the world with his powerful songs like “Mannish Boy” and “Got My Mojo Working.” While he was personally influenced in Mississippi by famous bluesmen like Robert Johnson and Son House, Muddy personally influenced an entire generation of rock guitarists, including the likes of Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck. As his influence spread, he gained increased recognition which eventually led to six Grammy Awards in the 1970s. Muddy passed away in Chicago in 1983 at the age of 68. His electric blues, rooted in traditions of the Mississippi Delta, and booming voice left an immeasurable impact on American music still felt to this day. PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHAEL ALEXANDER, BLUES ARCHIVE, UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI