Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival
04/28/16: Charlie Musselwhite Recalls Early Days in Chicago with Muddy Waters - "Muddy Gave Me a Career"

CLARKSDALE – In a straight-talking tribute to Muddy Waters at Clarksdale’s Delta Blues Museum, Grammy celebrity Charlie Musselwhite praised the Stovall native as an international musical influence “preaching the blues” and “giving me a career.”

   Moving from Memphis to Chicago and a job driving an exterminator truck, the fledgling harmonica described being in Pepper’s Lounge after work with Muddy and other musicians.

 “Nobody my age was in there; I was probably 18,” he told a standing-room-only museum audience.  “No young blacks or whites were into ‘old folks music’.”

Digressing from his storyline about gradually being invited to sit in and play, Musselwhite preaches a bit:  “Blues is not a fad; it’s always been here; and will always be here… blues will make you feel good; it’s an all-purpose music – an oasis.”

  Since Pepper’s Lounge was open til 4 a.m., he said Muddy was happy to have musicians sit in.

“This gave me an alternative; I was one of the guys and became a fixture,” Musselwhite said.  Gigs followed.

“He gave me a career, and afterward everything changed,” he said.

Asked what they talked about, “Mostly we talked about women and having a good time,” he said.

Describing Muddy, Musselwhite said, “He was regal; he dressed sharp; he was special, and his band looked sharp.” 

Charlie Musselwhite

Charlie Musselwhite