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Showing posts with label Eddie 'the Chief' Clearwater. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Eddie 'the Chief' Clearwater. Show all posts

Friday, June 1, 2018

Eddy Clearwater has passed - My thoughts are with his family and friends


Grammy-nominated Chicago blues legend Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater died of heart failure on Friday, June 1, in his hometown of Skokie, Illinois. He was 83.

Born Edward Harrington on January 10, 1935 in Macon, Mississippi, Clearwater (as he came to be known) was internationally lauded for his blues-rocking guitar playing, his original songs and his flamboyant showmanship. He was inducted into the Blues Hall Of Fame in 2016, and also won two Blues Music Awards including Contemporary Male Blues Artist Of The Year in 2001.

Clearwater was equally comfortable playing the deepest, most intense blues or his own brand of rocking, good-time party music – a style he called “rock-a-blues,” mixing blues, rock, rockabilly, country and gospel. Between his slashing guitar work and his room-filling vocals, Clearwater was among the very finest practitioners of the West Side style of Chicago blues. DownBeat called him “a forceful six-stringer...He lays down gritty West Side shuffles and belly-grinding slow blues that highlight his raw chops, soulful vocals, and earthy, humorous lyrics." Blues Revue said he played “joyous rave-ups. He testifies with stunning soul fervor and powerful guitar. He is one of the blues’ finest songwriters.”

Clearwater's musical talent became clear early on. From his Mississippi birthplace, He and his family moved to Birmingham, AL in 1948 when he was 13. With music from blues to gospel to country & western surrounding him from an early age, Clearwater taught himself to play guitar (left-handed and upside down), and began performing with various gospel groups, including the legendary Five Blind Boys of Alabama. After moving to Chicago in 1950, he stayed with an uncle and took a job as a dishwasher, saving as much as he could from his $37 a week salary. His first music jobs were with gospel groups playing in local churches. Through his uncle’s contacts, Clearwater met many of Chicago’s blues stars. He fell deeper under the spell of the blues, and befriended Magic Sam, who would become one of Clearwater’s closest friends and teachers.

By 1953, as Guitar Eddy, he was making a strong name for himself, working the South and West Side bars regularly. After hearing Chuck Berry in 1957, Clearwater added a rock and roll element to his already searing blues style, creating a unique signature sound. He recorded his first single, Hill Billy Blues, for his uncle’s Atomic H label in 1958 under the name Clear Waters (his manager at the time, drummer Jump Jackson, came up with the name as a play on Muddy Waters). The name Clear Waters morphed into Eddy Clearwater. He worked the Chicago club circuit steadily throughout the 1950s, 1960s and into the 1970s. He found huge success in the 1970s among the city's college crowd, who responded to his individual brand of blues, his rock and roll spirit and his high energy stage show.

Clearwater's first full-length LP, 1980’s The Chief, was the initial release on Chicago’s Rooster Blues label, launching him onto the national and international blues scene. Over the decades he recorded over 15 solo albums and never stopped touring, with fans from Chicago to Japan to Poland. His 2003 album on Bullseye Blues, Rock ‘N’ Roll City, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album. He released West Side Strut on Alligator in 2008 to both international popular and critical acclaim. His most recent CD was the self-released Soul Funky in 2014.

Clearwater is survived by his wife, Renee Greenman Harrington Clearwater, children Heather Greenman, Alyssa Jacquelyn, David Knopf, Randy Greenman, Jason Harrington and Edgar Harrington and grandchildren Gabriella Knopf and Graham Knopf.

Services will be held on Tuesday, June 5 at 11:00am at Chicago Jewish Funerals, 8851 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie, IL 60077.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Alligator Records News Briefs, April 16, 2013


Blues harmonica legend James Cotton, whose new CD Cotton Mouth Man will be in stores on May 7, 2013, is featured on the cover of the current issue of Living Blues magazine. The 10-page cover story, written by blues scholar David Whiteis, takes an in-depth look at Cotton's entire career, including the new CD.

Cotton Mouth Man is a joyous celebration of Cotton's 69 years as a professional musician (beginning at age nine). Recorded in Nashville and produced by Grammy-winning producer/ songwriter/ drummer Tom Hambridge (Buddy Guy, Joe Louis Walker, Susan Tedeschi), the album is a trip through sounds and scenes from Cotton's long and storied career.

Cotton co-wrote seven of the tracks with Hambridge (who co-wrote five additional tracks). The songs were inspired by Cotton's colorful and sometimes perilous life and his memories of the Mississippi Delta, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Memphis, Sun Records, Chicago, and Muddy Waters. Throughout the CD, Cotton's blast-furnace harmonica sound and larger-than-life personality are front and center.

Helping Cotton tell his stories and showcase his music are guests Gregg Allman, Joe Bonamassa, Ruthie Foster, Warren Haynes, Delbert McClinton, and Keb Mo. Other vocals are handled by Darrell Nulisch, who has been singing in Cotton's road band for many years.
The other members of Cotton's road band -- Jerry Porter, Noel Neal, and Tom Holland -- are also on board for some songs. Forming the core of the backing band on the CD are Hambridge (drums), Rob McNelley (guitar), Chuck Leavell (keyboards) and Glenn Worf (bass). Tommy MacDonald and Colin Linden each add guitar to one track. Cotton, who after a bout with throat cancer turned the vocal duties over to others, was inspired by the sessions to return to the microphone, singing his own Bonnie Blue (the name of the plantation where he was born), and making Cotton Mouth Man the most personal, celebratory and just plain fun recording of his seven-decade career.

Alligator Records recording artists Marcia Ball, Jesse Dee and Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials have all appeared or will appear on syndicated national radio broadcasts. Ball brought her raucous boogie-woogie blues to E-Town earlier this month (the segment can be heard in full by clicking on the link). Jesse Dee brings his original sweet soul music to World Cafe on April 17. And Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials return to Elwood's BluesMobile in a program featuring their roof raising slide guitar blues airing on June 9 and 10.

New Orleans' Gambit Weekly will honor guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Anders Osborne as the Entertainer Of The Year during its annual Big Easy Awards ceremony to be held on April 22 at Harrah's New Orleans. He is also nominated for two Big Easy Awards: Best Male Performer and Best Rock Band.

Osborne is currently in the studio working on a follow up to his massively successful 2012 Black Eye Galaxy CD. His most recent release is Three Free Amigos, a six-song EP recorded during a series of laid back, living room-like sessions.

Blues master Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater is currently featured in a television commercial touting Illinois tourism. The video highlights Chicago's rich blues heritage and features Clearwater's inviting, trademark smile.

On Sunday, June 9, Clearwater will perform on The Chicago Blues Festival's main stage, joining James Cotton, Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials, John Primer, Billy Branch and others in an all-star revue -- billed as Chicago Blues: Old School, New Millennium -- that promises to be a highlight of this year's event.

On Sunday, April 28, Alligator Records will be inducted into The Chicago Blues Hall Of Fame as a Legendary Blues Label. The ceremony will be held in Chicago at Buddy Guy's Legends and hosted by The Michael Packer Blues Band. The event will be filmed and televised by JBTV/NBC NONSTOP and broadcast on cable and satellite television nationwide. Alligator artists Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater and Corky Siegel will be inducted as Master Blues Artists.