SUSAN BRANDT BLACHLEY STAFF PICK
Muddy Waters was the single most important artist to emerge in post-war American blues. A peerless singer, a gifted songwriter, an able guitarist, and leader of one of the strongest bands in the genre (which became a proving ground for a number of musicians who would become legends in their own right), Waters absorbed the influences of rural blues from the Deep South and moved them uptown, injecting his music with a fierce, electric energy and helping pioneer the Chicago blues style that would come to dominate the music from the '50s through the '70s. Waters influenced a new generation of blues and rock artists including Eric Clapton, Johnny Winter, Michael Bloomfield, Paul Butterfield, Buddy Guy, Magic Sam, Otis Rush (all of whom recorded with Waters) and practically every other mainstream blues artist of the last forty years. Shay's photograph reflects a soft side of Muddy with his beautiful wife Geneva, powerful in stark surroundings.