State of Sound
Blues



The Blues are a feeling.

The feeling was amplified in the Great Migration to Illinois. Guitars went electric. Barrell house pianos moved from rural bordellos and juke joints into neon-drenched nightclubs. Vocalists became more expressive in this new world. A sense of longing collided with Northern tension and that created magnificent sparks for a new generation.

The sound of the Blues became more of an emotional adventure than a defined tradition. No hesitation at this station. Rock musicians soon embraced the attitude of the Blues, Jazz musicians heard the nuance. The Blues evolved while never compromising its instinct to push boundaries.

 

Featured Artist:

Muddy Waters

 Muddy Waters Biography

McKinley Morganfield was born in Mississippi in 1915.  He was raised by his grandmother who first nicknamed him Muddy and later added Waters to the legendary name. 

In 1943 Muddy Waters moved up to Chicago and started performing in neighborhood bars. Waters eventually settled in with Leonard and Phil Chess, the founders of recording label Chess Records.  He first started recording with them in 1947 and is credited with defining Chicago blues with his electric guitar and hit songs like “Hoochie Coochie Man” and “Got My Mojo Working.”

Muddy Waters inspired some of the biggest contemporary acts today.  Eric Clapton often referred to him as his father and often took him on tour. The Rolling Stones were known to join Muddy on stage at his much smaller gigs when they were in Chicago.  The last time being in 1981 when Jagger, Richards and Ron Wood sat in with Muddy at the Checker Board Lounge on Chicago’s South Side. 

Muddy Waters died on April 30th, 1983.  He is buried at Restvale Cemetery in Alsip with many of his fellow blues musicians. 

Artists of the Sound

Howlin' Wolf
Little Walter
Junior Wells
Paul Butterfield
Willie Dixon
Buddy Guy
Koko Taylor
Otis Rush

Collection

HOWLIN’ WOLF’S HARMONICA

Howlin’ Wolf was an enigmatic singer, guitarist, and harmonica player. His most famous song, “Smokestack Lightin’,” has a memorable harmonica solo in the middle.  This is Wolf’s 1950s-era Marine Band harmonica. It is in the Key of A major, a traditional key for Blues and Rock.

Courtesy of Bettye Kelly

ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME INDUCTION PLAQUE FOR HOWLIN’ WOLF

In 1991, Howlin’ Wolf (Chester Burnett) was posthumously inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame by Jon Landau & Bluesman Robert Cray. His musical presence, style, and intensity were huge influences on early Rock ‘n’ Roll. His widow and daughters accepted on his behalf.

Courtesy of Bettye Kelly

HOWLIN’ WOLF’S PERSONAL EFFECTS

Howlin’ Wolf (Chester Burnett) had a big striking voice and was also an imposing figure at 6 foot 3. He carried a firearm for protection, for which he needed this 1960s-era firearms license. 

Courtesy of Bettye Kelly

HOWLIN’ WOLF’S PERSONAL EFFECTS

Also featured is Howlin' Wolf's personal shaving brush with a wooden handle, a common item for someone born in 1910.

Courtesy of Bettye Kelly

WILLIE DIXON CHESS RECORDS FRAMED COMMEMORATIVE PLAQUE

In 1991, MCA Records (Chess’s parent company) celebrated Willie Dixon’s fifty-year career as a pioneering blues musician, vocalist, songwriter, arranger, and record producer by presenting him with this plaque on his 75th birthday. It acknowledges his seminal career as a songwriter.

Courtesy of the Alex Dixon
and the Willie Dixon Family

HANDWRITTEN LYRICS FOR “I’M WANTED ALL OVER THE WORLD” BY WILLIE DIXON

Willie Dixon wrote the song “I’m Wanted All Over the World” for his 1971 Yambo Records album Peace?. It has been covered many times, most famously by George Thorogood and the Destroyers in 1980. These lyrics are in Willie’s hand.

Courtesy of the Alex Dixon
and the Willie Dixon Family

FENDER STRATOCASTER GUITAR OWNED AND PLAYED BY BUDDY GUY

Blues legend Buddy Guy honors his late mother with the polka dot motif that has become his trademark for instruments and clothing. The Fender company now makes a Buddy Guy signature guitar for musicians looking to emulate Guy’s ringing tone.

Courtesy of Buddy Guy's Legends

CUSTOM GUITAR PEDAL OWNED AND PLAYED BY BUDDY GUY

Dunlop makes a Buddy Guy Signature “Crybaby Wah” pedal. This particular example was adorned with be-jewels and Guy only played it a handful of times before deciding it was too precious to take on the road.

Courtesy of Buddy Guy’s Legends


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