Windy City has been singing the blues for decades, and playing all that jazz, too
Editor’s note: The weekly Illinois Bicentennial series is brought to you by the Illinois Associated Press Media Editors and Illinois Press Association. More than 20 newspapers are creating stories about the state’s history, places and key moments in advance of the Bicentennial on Dec. 3. Stories published up to this date can be found at 200illinois.com.
CHICAGO – Since June 2017, Muddy Waters’ image has beamed down from a 10-story mural at 17 N. State St. in Chicago. But the king bee of Chicago blues looms even larger over the city with his outsized musical and cultural legacy.
The Mississippi Delta native, born McKinley Morganfield in 1913, followed the Great Migration to Chicago in 1943, where he found stardom with his groundbreaking electric guitar sound and classic bands.
He died at age 70 in 1983, but new generations of artists often cite the influence of the six-time Grammy winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, and Waters’ songs such as “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man” and “Rollin’ Stone” are used frequently by filmmakers and advertisers.
International tourists visit Chicago to bathe in Waters’ lore, including a visit to his longtime home at 4339 S. Lake Park. There’s not much to see, though, because the house that Tim Samuelson, Chicago’s cultural historian, has called Chicago’s most historic home has stood vacant and in a state of disrepair for many years, and plans are stalled to convert the Kenwood two-flat into a museum or other attraction.