RE: Muddy vs. the Wolf

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RE: Muddy vs. the Wolf

Postby david » Mon Dec 10, 2001 3:46 am

Don't mean to blow off your original question, but it only brings up bad memories for me. It was about 1978 or so and a friend offered to get me into a small club in Nashville to see Muddy Waters. I turned it down for some other show in town, 'cause Muddy was always coming through there. If I remember right I saw the Dixie Dregs instead.

I found out later that Muddy Waters had brought his friend Johnny Winter with him that night. Bummer.

Now, who might Howlin' Wolf have with him if I passed him up to go see Muddy? Dang, I hate these high pressure decisions.
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RE: Muddy vs. the Wolf

Postby dcblues » Tue Dec 11, 2001 4:36 pm

I would choose Muddy so I could see Little Walter (or whoever he had on harp at the time) play.
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RE: Muddy vs. the Wolf

Postby allanlummox » Tue Dec 11, 2001 10:16 pm

Wow...for me this is a core question...when I first got into the blues, my best bud & I argued for hours over the wolf-muddy thing.

Howlin' Wolf.
I love both of them, but I've just always had a little more
personal thing with Wolf's music.
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RE: Muddy vs. the Wolf

Postby mikedev » Wed Dec 19, 2001 3:34 pm

It would have to be Muddy.

That way I get to hear Otis Spann on Piano, Little Walter on Harp, and Jimmy Rogers on Guitar as well!

Hopefully all will do some singing.


Sounds like Blues Heaven!
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RE: Muddy vs. the Wolf

Postby slidnslim » Thu Dec 20, 2001 2:54 am

Ditto here! Mike I got to agree with you, Muddy's self described head-cutting band the (head hunters). Slim
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RE: Muddy vs. the Wolf

Postby socal_blues » Fri Dec 21, 2001 12:24 am

Gotta go with the Wolf. He had Hubert Sumlin playing with him for years. Hubert was so well respected that Muddy "stole" him from Howlin' Wolf for a tour once which caused a big stir. Hubert Sumlin went back to Wolfs band after the tour.

I saw Hubert this past summer and he was great. Prior to seeing him I had never even heard of him. Too bad he played in the background for so long.

The Wolf had that great growl too.
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RE: Muddy vs. the Wolf..rant..tran

Postby blueswriter » Thu Jun 27, 2002 3:40 pm

Jeez Houndog...

Got some issues with Muddy Waters, I guess. Calling him a slimy bastard and 2nd rate copyist is beyond disrespectful though. Muddy may well have denied meeting Robert Johnson simply because he never did meet the man, unless you have documentation that proves otherwise. Many of the older guys easily recalled hanging out near the juke joints when they were too young to get in just so they could hear Delta legends like Son House or Robert Johnson. And with all the interest in Johnson following the Columbia LP releases in the 60's, if Muddy wanted to play parcel and post to the game, I'm sure he'd have said he met Johnson. I have no reason to disbelieve his statement that he didn't meet RJ.

As for Muddy making it because of his band and their contributions, they certainly played major roles in his sound, but it was Mr. Waters who was unselfish enough to let all of them shine; Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers, Otis Spann, James Cotton, Pinetop Perkins, and many others... all who went on to make rather distinctive names for themselves. You think a 2nd rate copyist or slimy bastard would encourage his talented sidemen to seek their own fortunes? I strongly doubt it.

I'm one who respects Muddy and I guess I'm a bit surprised to see the amount of animosity thrown at him, since this site is known for its non-flammable nature. While you might not like him, for whatever reason, it's pretty obvious to me and many others that Muddy Waters was one of the key figures in the formation of Chicago's 2nd generation electric blues scene. Oh yeah, they were playing plugged in before him, but for my money, Big Bill, Tampa Red, and many others, who helped a young Muddy out when he first got there, later realized themselves that it was time to turn away from the Bluebird beat and follow the leader.

How many 2nd rate copyists have been honored as Muddy has been? I guess all the researchers, journalists, and other musicians have been wrong all this time. I'll be sure to come to you to find out why Patton was so important!

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RE: Muddy vs. the Wolf

Postby blueswriter » Thu Jun 27, 2002 8:46 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Jun-27-02 AT 04:47 PM (CST)]The time frame was never pinpointed for this thread and I remember thinking who I'd pick depending on what year. It'd be a hard one either way though... I saw Muddy a number of times later in his life and he was always great but Wolf I never did get to see. When he died, I had been into blues for a few years, but I was still too young to get into the clubs he occasionally played around Boston.

If we were discussing a particular time frame, say the early to middle 1950's, I'd still be hard-pressed. Figuring all the top-floor talent in both bands, they both must have been amazing during those times. Heck, the number of harp players in Muddy's outfit are enough to make me drool, never mind the thought of Otis Spann pounding the piano into blues oblivion... but looking at Wolf's list of guitarists which included; Hubert Sumlin, Jody Williams, Willie Johnson, and Little Smokey Smothers, how could one miss that? Gladly, I never had to make the choice.

I remember back when J.B. Hutto and Eddy Clearwater were working for Ron Bartolucci's Baron label... they were regulars around here who I'd see quite often. I don't think I ever had to pick between the two of them either.

This is kind of like the 'Desert Island Discs' questions for me... one day I'd pick a list, and the next day, it'd most likely be something completely different!

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RE: Muddy vs. the Wolf..rant..tran

Postby houndog » Thu Jun 27, 2002 9:37 pm

Picture this...

Whisky shack back in he Mississippi woods..5.30am on a Sunday morning .....Wolf, Elmore,Robert Johnson and Sonny Boy Williamson hooting it up way passed the last drunks departure...

Muddy(and this is what burns me up about this 2nd rate copyist)
is lurking in the undergrowth outside because he DENIED ever meeting Robert Johnson...slimy bastard...despite lifting all his riffs.

Muddy was kept going by a good band...original blues ...naw, the Wolf put on a show ,he terrified audiences and gave it his all...

The best musician, singer and guitar player of the two ...

...Elmore James.

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RE: Muddy vs. the Wolf..rant..rant

Postby houndog » Fri Jun 28, 2002 12:48 am

True ,
I have a real problem with how Muddy dismissed his influences and jumped on the Chicago sound and claimed it as his, fair enough if you want to make a living but I get really tired of Muddy as King of the blues…icon status…what for?

Poor Bob died in Mississippi in 1938. Muddy was born and farmed in Mississippi and would have been 15 in 1930 and 20 in 1935,he married at 18 years old.
Muddy admits to seeing Son House, but as Poor Bob’s records were only regional hits Muddy lifted his first few singles from Poor Bob/the Delta. All he seems to have done is dumbed down Rolling and Tumble ( check Elmore’s take …proto heavy metal and too funky to be true..!).
Now as I see it Muddy banked on Poor Bob’s stuff being un-released to a wider audience, and as Poor Bob had paved the way to Chicago …wee Muddy followed on.

As to Muddy meeting /seeing Poor Bob. This is lifted from Robert Palmer’s “Deep Blues”.Page 111.

“The man whose records Muddy learned the most from was Robert Johnson. Robert was only four years older, spent most of his childhood in or near the upper Delta hamlet of Robinsonville , borrowed the themes for several of his most gripping blues from Son House , and didn’t make his first recordings until 1936, when Muddy was an accomplished guitarist .But the virtuosity and force of Johnson’s music simply overwhelmed Muddy who actually saw him only once “It was in Friar’s Point , and this guy had a lot of people standin’ around him .He could have been Robert , they said it was Robert .I stopped and peeked over , and then I left .Because he was a dangerous man .I got to see his picture a little while back , and since I‘ve seen it I think I really heard him.”

Unbelievably this account is taken as true....burns the hell out of me....really does.

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RE: Muddy vs. the Wolf..rant..rant

Postby blueswriter » Fri Jun 28, 2002 3:49 am

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Jun-28-02 AT 00:29 AM (CST)]Houndog...

I never once heard Muddy dismiss his influences. It seems to me that he always mentioned Robert and Son as his primary sources of inspiration. Maybe it's just a difference of opinion we have as to what it is to "dismiss" one's influence.

Muddy would not have been 15 in 1930... since he was born in 1913, he'd have been a couple years older. See Robert Gordon's "Can't Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters."

You said, "Muddy admits to seeing Son House, but as Poor Bob’s records were only regional hits Muddy lifted his first few singles from Poor Bob/the Delta."
Perhaps you could explain who had recordings at the time that weren't regional hits. People like Blind Lemon Jefferson and a few others might have sold exceptionally well in many different locales, but I don't think Son House sold many records outside his area. And as a matter of fact, the only recording of Robert's I'm aware of that was a regional hit was "Terraplane Blues." The reason so few records exist by these guys leads me to believe that neither sold many records outside the immediate area.

You pointed out that Palmer's "Deep Blues" has the following passage; “It was in Friar’s Point... I stopped and peeked over, and then I left. Because he was a dangerous man. I got to see his picture a little while back, and since I‘ve seen it I think I really
heard him.”
Maybe we also disagree as to what a "meeting" is. Muddy never said he never 'saw' Robert, he simply said he never met the man. To my understanding, to meet someone is to introduce yourself, or have someone else introduce you, to another person. As far as I can recall, from any source, including Palmer's "Deep Blues," which I have quoted in these forums before, Muddy's statement was always pretty much the same... he did get to 'see' Robert Johnson one time, but seeing someone perform and actually knowing them or meeting them is something entirely different.

I understand differences of opinion, which we have here, but Muddy always spoke of his influences, whether it was Johnson, House, Broonzy, Tampa Red, or any of the others. I guess I don't see how you think he took anything "as his own" when he always referred to those who inspired him. I certainly have heard Muddy mention how he made his own sound and style, two things I believe he did, but he always prefaced that with acknowledging those who came before him. For me, Muddy did change music, and my beliefs have surely been influenced by what I have read over the past 30-some-odd years, but if you listen to what was coming out of Chicago prior to Muddy recording for Aristocrat, the styles of blues were as different as night and day. John Lee Williamson, Broonzy, Tampa Red, Jazz Gillum and many more were tied to the "Bluebird beat," thanks to Lester Melrose, but it was guys like Muddy, Snooky Pryor, Johnny Young, Jimmy Rogers, Baby Face Leroy, Little Walter, and others who were developing the new Chicago style.

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RE: Muddy vs. the Wolf..rant..rant

Postby dcblues » Fri Jun 28, 2002 5:27 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Jun-28-02 AT 01:28 PM (CST)] "Then I wonder why there exist trademark Muddy Waters licks in the blues, which are immediately recognizable when heard and entirely distinguishable from Robert Johnson licks?"

I think a lot of his signature licks sound like Robert Nighthawk. The more I listen to Nighthawk, the more I think he was a bigger influence on Muddy than Son House or Johnson.
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RE: Muddy vs. the Wolf..rant..rant

Postby houndog » Fri Jun 28, 2002 7:16 pm

Hello again,
I admire your passion Sl.

Muddy is a required American icon as he plays a simplified type of pop which crossed over and motivated the Rolling Stones etc.
The similarity would be Bill Haley claiming to have originated R+R.

When the Stones recorded at Chess they were amazed to find Muddy painting the ceiling, without their support and later on Johnny Winter ..would Muddy still be the pop idol he has been and included on every Blues compilation since 1965 or so?

Now I feel that Muddy used the space left by a superior player namely Poor Bob...who Robert Palmer indicates was laterly rumoured to be playing electric guitar...contentious I know ...but just think what could have been..!

But I really can't jump on the Muddy = King of the Blues/originator of the Chicago sound..there were far too many players who could claim that title.
Muddy was lucky, simplified electric Delta tunes which were played at the right time and place,but that's show biz...Poor Bob died early and like Jimi we will never know what could have been.....

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RE: Muddy vs. the Wolf..rant..rant

Postby blueswriter » Fri Jun 28, 2002 9:21 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Jun-28-02 AT 05:25 PM (CST)]--Muddy plays a simplified type of pop which crossed over and motivated the Rolling Stones etc.--

A simplified type of pop? Again, the legion of fans, discographers, researchers, and journalists must have it all wrong. For the longest time, I actually thought Muddy was playing blues, but that's my fault for listening to the words of those who respected him for his contributions.

--When the Stones recorded at Chess they were amazed to find Muddy painting the ceiling, without their support and later on Johnny Winter... would Muddy still be the pop idol he has
been and included on every Blues compilation since 1965 or
so?--

The claim that Muddy was painting the ceiling at the Chess Studios has never been properly documented. Considering that fact, we have only the claim itself. Marshall Chess denied it, as did a number of others, including Bill Wyman...
"We pulled up with the equipment, and we were out there putting the guitars in and the mike stands and amps. Muddy came walking down the street, and he helped us with it. We were like {in awe}." The memory of Keith Richards is slightly different... "We walked down the corridor... there's some guy painting the ceiling on a stepladder... and there's Muddy in overalls and he's whitewashing and I'll never forget the image, Muddy's great big gleaming black face all splattered with whitewash..."
And Marshall Chess said... "That's some kind of Keith's fantasy, and I tease him about that... if you knew Muddy Waters, he just wasn't in there painting the wall. Muddy was always dressed sharp as a tack. He wasn't about to be getting no paint spots on his Stetson shoes or his custom-made suit." (several Chess employees find the painting story difficult to believe; one said, "Leonard would be the first one to say, 'Get your ass down, I don't want you falling off those damn ladders.' ")
From "Can't Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muuddy Waters" by Robert Gordon - 2002 - Little, Brown and Company

As for Johnny Winter, the reason he went after Muddy was because of the massive contributions Waters made to the history of music. You think Mr. Winter went after him with such determination because he was a 2nd rate copyist? That's pretty unlikely. And yeah, Johnny certainly helped boost Muddy's name and recognition, but I'd have to guess he did it out of respect...

--But I really can't jump on the Muddy = King of the
Blues/originator of the Chicago sound..there were far too
many players who could claim that title.
Muddy was lucky, simplified electric Delta tunes which were
played at the right time and place,but that's show
biz...Poor Bob died early and like Jimi we will never know
what could have been...--

Perhaps you can throw out a few names who deserve the title more than Muddy does. Yes, I'm fully aware that there was a small enclave of cats who were simultaneously developing that Chicago sound, but Muddy was the man who took his influences, combined them, and put them in a blender, which was connected to his electric guitar which went directly to an overdriven amplifier... oh, that's right... he never did come up with anything original.

And as for his dismissing his influences, Mark Naftalin recalled questioning Muddy if he'd ever heard of Robert Johnson, and Muddy's response was, "My main man, my main man." Also from Gordon's "Can't Be Satisfied."

I don't know that anyone's expecting you to jump on any bandwagon, Houndog, but to disrespect someone of Muddy's stature by calling him a 2nd rate copyist and slimy bastard? Well, everyone's entitled to their own opinions...

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RE: Muddy vs. the Wolf..rant..rant

Postby houndog » Fri Jun 28, 2002 10:24 pm

Well,
lets go back a bit...Poor Bob ..Muddy..in the the same state..same time frame...Muddy ran a Juke joint...never booked Poor Bob...hmmm this
boy must have a Hollywood agent to pass this sort of stuff off.

Are you really going to keep going with this...Poor Bob the mega Delta Star ..( by Muddy's admission )who was a protegy of Papa Charley and Son House ..and Muddy didn't see him...AND then Muddy came up with some crap about maybe seeing Poor Bob from a distance...Man that burns me beyond belief...three cock crows before dawn...!

Do you know ..thinking about it as I write I think Muddy booked Poor Bob solid in his joint ..pulled his riffs and then took advantage of Poor Bob's death and the lack of information.

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