James Cotton interviewed

James Cotton | wikipedia | tc102

Like most of the musicians who launched national careers from the Sun Records studio in Memphis, James Cotton was well seasoned by the time he arrived. Later a Chicago fixture, Cotton spent his boyhood in the 1940s living and working with bluesman Sonny Boy Williamson. Later Muddy Waters came through Memphis. Harp players Junior Wells and Little Walter had left Waters’ band, so he hunted down Cotton. “I didn’t believe it was him,” Cotton said of Waters’ initial overture. “That seat he had to fill of Little Walter’s was a hot seat.”

That night’s Muddy gig on Beale Street led to Cotton following the band back to Chicago, where he became a fixture in the burgeoning blues community — and learned how to play for an urban crowd. “Coming from the South, we were all playing the blues, you know,” he said. “But Chicago blues was more slick, I should say, more smooth. They took all the bumps out of the road, smoothed it out. It wasn’t country blues. It was big-city blues.”

The original article in the Chicago Sun Times is no longer available.


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