The 30 Most Badass Guitarists of All Time
Born April 4, 1915 (died April 30, 1983)
Iconic Guitar 1958 Fender Telecaster
Coolest Riff “Rollin’ and Tumblin’ ”—The Real Folk Blues
The father of electric blues, McKinley Morganfield was born in rural Mississippi, where he absorbed the folk blues stylings of Son House, Big Bill Broonzy and Robert Johnson. But in the Forties, he made the pilgrimage to Chicago, picked up an electric guitar and forged a bold new style all his own.
He assumed the stage name Muddy Waters and released a series of historic recordings on the legendary Chess Records label. These discs established the quintessential Muddy Waters persona—the jive-talkin’, sharp-dressed, tough-as-nails, mojo-workin’ Hoochie Coochie Man. Waters’ confident, cocky vocal delivery was augmented by the knife-edge drama of his bottleneck guitar leads. This steely, highly electrified sound galvanized a new rising generation of British rock musicians when Muddy first visited those shores in 1958.
A group of blues-crazy Brits even took their name from one of his songs: the Rolling Stones. The blues in general, and the recordings of Muddy Waters in particular, became the “roots music” for the youth counterculture that sprang up in the Sixties. Countless bands, from the Stones on down, have assayed Waters classics like “Rollin’ and Tumblin’,” “Got My Mojo Workin’,” “You Shook Me,” “I Just Wanna Make Love to You” and “Mannish Boy.”
Leading rock publications Rolling Stone and Mojo also paid proud titular homage to Muddy Waters, who passed away in 1983. It’s no overstatement to say that there would be no rock and roll had Muddy Waters not come along.