43. Muddy Waters (McKinley Morganfield)

McKinley Morganfield, better known as Muddy Waters, was a blues musician from Clarksdale, Mississippi. He was “discovered” in 1941 by Alan Lomax, for the Library of Congress project to record Delta blues musicians. Soon thereafter, Waters migrated from Mississippi to the promise of good pay and equal treatment in Chicago, Illinois. He then worked while pursuing his career as a full-time blues musician.

The Second Great Migration

In 1947, he established a relationship with brothers Leonard and Phil Chess, owners of Aristocrat Records. Soon the Chess brothers, with Waters providing “I Can’t Be Satisfied” as an early hit, renamed themselves Chess Records, beginning a twenty year reign as the home of the Chicago Blues. Over a ten to fifteen year period, Waters refined his music, evolving from a simple duo and trio, into the classic blues sextet that helped define rock music.


Muddy Waters (1913-1983), guitar, singer, songwriter, harmonica

The Official Muddy Waters Website

Muddy Waters Discography by Phil Wight and Fred Rothwell

Notable Contributors:

Willie Dixon (1915-1992), upright bass, songwriter
“Little Walter” Jacobs (1930-1968), harmonica
Jimmy Rogers (1924-1997), guitar
Fred Below (1926-1988), drums
Otis Spann (1930-1970), piano

“Like Bill Monroe and Bob Wills, Waters was an architect of a new music, since Chicago blues, like Monroe’s bluegrass or Wills’ Western swing, though rooted in earlier forms, is firmly stamped with the personality and musical thinking of one man.”

— Hardy & Laing, “The Faber Companion To 20th-Century Popular Music”

The career of Muddy Waters parallels the rise and fall of his great sideman, harmonica player “Little” Walter Jacobs. Recording his first songs with bassist Big Crawford, Muddy Waters soon added the distinctive wail of Little Walter’s harmonica. Muddy is the man who realized the blues sound we know today, the one who perfected the six man blues sound.

With standout performers like Willie Dixon on bass and Sonny Boy Williamson on harmonica, performances like this raised the bar for young bands, especially those Englishmen who followed the American blues explosion with great interest. This is teamwork music; no stars, rather a careful collaboration.

I was introduced to Muddy Waters by the power of critic’s opinions. By then I may have known that the Stones had covered Muddy Waters songs. Listen to Muddy, the critics said, and I obeyed. I bought an LP of the compilation Trouble No More before purchasing a comprehensive set of his work in the late eighties. I’m proud of my three old CDs that cover twenty-five of the thirty-six songs presented here. It was two French imports (On Chess 1948-1951 and On Chess 1951-1959) plus the CD version of “Trouble No More”, and I learned about this essential music. It was great. The Vogue imports are really nice, with concise information on recording dates and bilingual liner notes.

Here Muddy Waters sings “Rollin’ Stone” at the Newport Jazz Festival around 1960:

A great place to start learning about Muddy Waters is the two-CD compilation Muddy Waters The Anthology: 1947-1972, a well chosen selection with upgraded sound characteristics. Other songs from the list of songs can be found on these iTunes albums:

Folk Singer

Long Distance Call (Alt)
My John The Conqueror Root
Feel Like Going Home

Hard Again

Mannish Boy (Alt)

One More Mile – Chess Collectibles, Vol. 1

Rollin’ Stone (Alt)
Rock Me (Alt)

Muddy Waters: His Best (1956-1964)

I Feel So Good

Muddy Waters: Rollin’ Stone – The Golden Anniversary Collection

They Call Me Muddy Waters
All Night Long (Alt)

Hoochie Coochie Man: The Complete Chess Masters, Vol. 2, 1952-1958

All Aboard
She’s All Right
She’s Got It

King Bee

Champagne & Reefer

Muddy Waters has more good sexy songs than most artists. Famous, easily recognizable songs covered by The Rolling Stones (“I Just Want To Make Love To You”), all the way to Led Zeppelin (“You Shook Me”). Right there you establish Waters as a key component in rock music development. Waters is a great singer and has a sexy way of singing these simple and overt songs.

It’s important to know that “Mannish Boy” is a direct take from an earlier song, Bo Diddley’s “I’m A Man”. Bo Diddley, revered for his introduction of new beats and sounds, only begins to hint at the strength of talent in Chicago. Little Walter Jacobs was a gifted but volatile man; in 1956 he was replaced by James Cotton on harmonica for the single “Rock Me/I Live The Life I Love”. Muddy Waters is also responsible for “discovering” Chuck Berry and signing him to his first contract at Chess. And of course, bassist Willie Dixon is a ubiquitous presence in not only Muddy Waters’ music, but in much of the Chess Records catalog. Sonny Boy, pianist Otis Spann, drummer Fred Below, and guitarists Matt Murphy, Junior Wells and Buddy Guy — among the many great Chicago musicians at Chess Records who established rock music’s ground rules for the next thirty years. Great music.

Muddy Waters Songs:

Trouble No More, Muddy Waters ✭✭✭✭
Rock Me, Muddy Waters ✭✭✭✭
Got My Mojo Working, Muddy Waters ✭✭✭✭
Got My Mojo Working (Live), Muddy Waters ✭✭✭✭
I Just Want To Make Love To You, Muddy Waters ✭✭✭✭

(I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man, Muddy Waters ✭✭✭
Rollin’ And Tumblin’, Muddy Waters ✭✭✭
I Can’t Be Satisfied, Muddy Waters ✭✭✭
Louisiana Blues, Muddy Waters ✭✭✭
Long Distance Call (Alt), Muddy Waters ✭✭✭
Mannish Boy, Muddy Waters ✭✭✭
Mannish Boy (Alt), Muddy Waters ✭✭✭
I Love The Life I Live, I Live The Love I Love, Muddy Waters ✭✭✭
All Aboard, Muddy Waters ✭✭✭
You Shook Me, Muddy Waters ✭✭✭
Feel Like Going Home, Muddy Waters & Buddy Guy ✭✭✭

Sugar Sweet, Muddy Waters ✭✭
Don’t Go No Further, Muddy Waters ✭✭
She’s Got It, Muddy Waters ✭✭
She Moves Me, Muddy Waters ✭✭
She’s All Right, Muddy Waters ✭✭
Rollin’ Stone, Muddy Waters ✭✭
All Night Long (Alt), Muddy Waters ✭✭
Kind Hearted Woman, Muddy Waters ✭✭
Long Distance Call, Muddy Waters ✭✭
Rollin’ Stone (Alt), Muddy Waters ✭✭
I Want To Be Loved, Muddy Waters ✭✭
Rock Me (Alt), Muddy Waters ✭✭

My John The Conqueror Root, Muddy Waters
Champagne & Reefer, Muddy Waters
They Call Me Muddy Waters, Muddy Waters
I Feel So Good, Muddy Waters
I’m Ready, Muddy Waters
You Can’t Lose What You Ain’t Never Had, Muddy Waters
Walkin’ Blues, Muddy Waters
Walkin’ Thru The Park (Single), Muddy Waters

Related Songs:

My Baby, Little Walter ✭✭✭
Boom, Boom, Out Go The Lights, Little Walter ✭✭✭
Mean Old World, Little Walter ✭✭
Key To The Highway, Little Walter ✭✭
Roller Coaster, Little Walter ✭✭
Juke, Little Walter ✭✭
Boogie, Little Walter

Trouble No More, Allman Brothers Band ✭✭✭
Trouble No More (Live), Allman Brothers Band ✭✭✭

Rock Me Baby, B.B. King ✭✭
Rock Me Baby (Live), Jimi Hendrix Experience

Got My Mojo Working, Ann Cole ✭✭

I’m A Man, Bo Diddley ✭✭✭✭
I’m A Man (Alt), Bo Diddley ✭✭✭
I’m A Man, The Yardbirds ✭✭✭

I Just Want To Make Love To You, Rolling Stones

Rollin’ And Tumblin’, Bob Dylan ✭✭
Rollin’ And Tumblin’, Elmore James
Rollin’ And Tumblin’, The Seldom Scene
Rollin’ And Tumblin’ (Live), Cream

I Can’t Be Satisfied, Rolling Stones ✭✭✭

You Shook Me, Led Zeppelin

Rollin’ Stone, Johnny Jenkins ✭✭✭✭

I Want To Be Loved (Live), Rolling Stones

Walking Blues (Live), Eric Clapton ✭✭
Walking Blues, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band ✭✭
Walking Blues, Robert Johnson

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