As many of you know, The Blues Legacy label have recently discovered a host of previously
unreleased material from American Blues Legends including none other than Muddy Waters.
It was on this day (April 4th) in 1915 that the legendary Muddy Waters (aka McKinley
Morganfield) was born in Rolling Fork, Mississippi. Muddy Waters is known as one of the
greatest, most influential and enduringly important musicians of the 20th Century and we
are celebrating the late, great blues man's birthday today.
You can follow the link here to view information on the Blues Lost & Found release
featuring unheard material from Muddy Waters recorded during his first ever visit to
These recordings are available to purchase from our Secure Online Store for delivery
worldwide or by Digital Download Stores including I-Tunes (Search under the title: Chris
Barber Presents: Blues Lost 7 Found).
Here is a trailer for the Blues Lost & Found Series on You Tube:
It was the British Jazz & Blues legend Chris Barber who invited Muddy and his pianist Otis
Spann to tour Britain in 1958 - here are some exclusive excerpts from the liner notes
from the release:
The formation of the 'Lost & Found' Series came into being, when the Jazz & Blues legend
Chris Barber, came across some old 1/4 inch magnetic tapes. On these, he discovered the
unique sounds of Sonny Boy Williamson in concert, recorded many decades ago, in England.
Chris set about investigating his archives further, only to find more of these tapes,
featuring his band together with Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee and
Muddy Waters, to name but a few.
Long before Muddy Waters came to tour with The Chris Barber Band in October 1958, Chris
had been talking to his lifetime friend, the great jazzman John Lewis, about his plans for
Sonny and Brownie in May '58. Lewis said, "why haven't you booked Muddy Waters, he's the
last of the real thing, you got to bring him". Chris said to John Lewis, 'I have no idea
how to reach him'. "My impression of where Muddy was living would have been just near the
cotton bush on the left, by the Stovall's plantation, but of course it wasn't." Lewis
replied 'don't be silly, he's got an agent and a white Cadillac'. The seed was now
planted, and arrangements were made to book him right away.
His arrival in Britain may well have begun with a degree of confusion for Muddy Waters.
After agreeing the tour, he was requested to play a one off concert for the Leeds Jazz
Festival on the Saturday prior to the first date. As the Barber Band were not available
that day, Muddy was featured with The Jazz Today Unit (including the great Kenny Baker,
best known for playing the trumpet on the Muppet Show). The group in question didn't
really know the kind of blues that Muddy represented. "He probably arrived at the first
concert of the tour with us in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, not knowing quite what to expect",
says Chris Barber. "When they heard our band, both Muddy and his piano player Otis Spann
were wreathed in smiles. They realized it felt just like coming home."
The outcome of a tour with the band was nothing short of a magnificent milestone in
history. "You can hear the audience reaction on this recording", remarks Chris, "they
loved it, the people who liked our style of Jazz were open and willing, and our crowd
could understand there was something serious, special and great about this music". The
tour with Muddy Waters and The Chris Barber band also introduced the American blues
musician Otis Spann (1930 - 1970), considered by many as one of Chicago's leading
pianists. Spann was a full time member of the Muddy Waters band at that time, and in
throughout his lifetime, collaborated with many of the greats including Howlin' Wolf, Bo
Diddley, B.B King, Buddy Guy, and later Eric Clapton and Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac.
Muddy Waters was a huge inspiration for musicians in the British scene and is known as one
of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Not only did the tour with Chris
Barber enhance Muddy's reputation in Europe, but in turn, reawakened an interest in the
blues from the other side of the Atlantic. Arguably, it was this visit to British shores,
with Muddy on electric guitar, which led to the phenomenal rise of the blues explosion.
Following the tour with Muddy Waters, The Chris Barber Band made their first American
performances in Feb '59. They visited the legendary Smitty's Corner and experienced first
hand, the unforgettable sound of Muddy Waters' full band and had the feeling of working
with the great bluesman in his first environment. This provided Barber, Ottilie Patterson
and the band with a whole new dimension in playing the blues. Having been called up
onstage by Muddy with his band in Chicago several times, Chris and Ottilie took great
encouragement in playing to an original and natural audience for the music they loved.
"There was no, 'why are you playing our music?' just total acceptance. We just wanted to
know more and they were keen to find out how we knew of it, it was a great atmosphere",
says Chris. Muddy Waters returned to Europe several times in the 60s and 70s, solidifying
his role as an instigator of the British Invasion. Chris Barber reminisces, "I don't think
Muddy Waters thought of himself as being that important, he just did the job, and did it
good too, he just loved the music".
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