George Sottung: Muddy Waters
Artist: George Sottung
Though Chicago claims him as its own, Muddy Waters was actually born in Mississippi in 1915. It wasn't until 1943 that the man considered the "King of the Blues" left his childhood home to begin his reign in the Windy City. Waters' original name was McKinley Morganfield. According to one source, he earned his nickname by playing in a muddy plantation creek as a child, while living with his grandmother. Others say the moniker "Muddy Waters" was derived from his early years, when he would catch and sell fish. Waters, however, called himself by another name: "Gut Singer," which amply describes his powerful, earthy sound. On coming to Chicago, Waters at first worked in a series of menial jobs by day, entertaining at local taverns after hours. The release of his early recordings for Aristocrat Records was delayed by one of the firm's principals who preferred Jazz to Blues. But when Waters' songs I Can't Be Satisfied and I Feel Like Going Home were finally released, they became immediate hits. Popular with black audiences for years, Waters' music eventually crossed racial boundaries. His tune Rollin' Stone inspired the name of England's famous band The Rolling Stones. The words also prompted folk singer Bob Dylan's ballad Like a Rolling Stone. Among Waters' other immortal hits are Got My Mojo Workin', Funky Butt and The Blues Had a Baby and They Named It Rock 'n' Roll.
This painting was originally published on the Fleetwood® First Day Cover for the U.S. 29¢ Muddy Waters stamp issued September 17, 1994.
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