Few artists created a lasting legacy and heavy influence on more than one musical movement, at least to the extent of Muddy Waters. He took the blues electric, along the way lighting a fire of influence with English performers who would change rock and roll in the 60s.
Starting his career in his native Mississippi Waters played country blues on acoustic guitar. He was recorded by Alan Lomax in ’41 and again in ’42. An experience that some say led Waters to more diligently pursue a career as a full time professional musician. In 1943 he relocated to Chicago, where Big Bill Bronzy helped establish Waters with opening slots on his shows in some of the cities most rowdy clubs. The shear noise level of the rambunctious audiences in these venues gave Muddy’s uncle, Joe Buck, an idea. In 1945 Buck presented Muddy Waters with his first electric guitar in an effort to allow Waters to be heard above the crowd. But more than shear volume, Waters was now talking the blues in a new and exciting direct, electric blues.
Flash forward to 1958, after years and years of hit records for the Chess imprint and amassing the cannon of material collected on this Best Of, Waters took his electric blues to England…the first American blues artist to do so. The impact and influence of those shows is still being felt today.
Water’s first greatest hits collection was pulled together by Chess as “The Best Of Muddy Waters” in 1957, designed to appeal to American blues fans of the era. By the late 1960s it was clear that Waters had also had such a heavy influence on the younger, rock performers (and audiences) of the day that Chess pulled together a resequenced version of that material with “Sail On.” All the best of Water’s Chess sides are included with the end result being a collection of material that’s the perfect starting point for discovering one of the most consequential blues artists that’s ever been.