Big Bill Morganfield Biography

19 June 1956, Chicago, Illinois, USA. The son of legendary blues singer Muddy Waters, Morganfield never picked up a guitar until his father’s death in 1983. However, the absence of contact between them during his childhood may go some way to explaining this extraordinary story of the late blooming of his undeniable talent. Morganfield, who was not given his father’s name at birth, lived with his grandmother in Florida. Nevertheless, Waters’ music did feature in his record collection, as did more pop influences, such as the Jacksons. Morganfield saw his father play live on one occasion and was greatly stirred by the response that Waters generated from the crowd. Perhaps it was a similar intention which prompted Morganfield, who has degrees in English and Communications, to a career as a high-school English teacher. He was determined to forge a connection between himself and children who, for whatever reason, felt isolated in the way that he had at times in his childhood. Morganfield was nearly 30 years old when Muddy Waters died. It was then that he began to feel an urge to take up his father’s legacy.

Morganfield’s first efforts with the small band he assembled in Atlanta disappointed him and he subsequently applied himself to a laborious study of the roots of the Delta blues. His work had most certainly paid off by the time he got together to record with his father’s former sidemen, Paul Oscher (harmonica) and Bob Margolin (guitar), under the wing of Blind Pig Records. Both musicians were impressed by the vocal similarity between father and son. This led to 1999’s debut Rising Son, on which Oscher and Margolin played alongside Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith (drums) and Pinetop Perkins (piano). The album won plaudits for its originality and songwriting as much as for its echoes of Muddy Waters. Morganfield continued to rise to, and surpass, expectations with Ramblin’ Mind with contributions from Taj Mahal and Billy Branch. A stand-out track was the cover version of ‘You're Gonna Miss Me’, originally recorded by Waters. Yet perhaps it is the sense of ‘transcending’ which really distinguishes Morganfield’s music and entitles him to recognition in his own right.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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