The world has lost one of the greatest harmonica players it has ever known as James Cotton has died. Cotton, known for his work with Sonny Boy Williamson II, Muddy Waters and as a solo performer, passed away today of pneumonia at St. David’s Medical Center in Austin at the age of 81.
James Cotton was born on a cotton plantation in Mississippi on July 1, 1935. By the age of nine he was already a working musician. Sonny Boy Williamson II taught Cotton directly and recruited James to tour with him and Howlin Wolf. Cotton was recorded by Sun Records in 1953 and then spent 12 years touring and recording with Muddy Waters. The harmonica legend was featured on Muddy’s famed 1960 At Newport LP for Chess Records and his work on “Got My Mojo Working” remains one of the great performances in the history of the harmonica.
After parting ways with Muddy, the Mississippi native formed The James Cotton Band in 1966 and toured the world relentlessly. Cotton, known as “Mr. Superharp,” recorded nearly 30 solo albums, won a Grammy, scored six Living Blues awards and was a 2006 inductee into the Blues Hall Of Fame. In more recent years he recorded for Alligator Records and was awarded the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal’s 2015 B.B. King Award for his seven decades of contributions to the blues. Our thoughts are with James Cotton’s family.
Listen to Episode Eight of ‘The JamBase Podcast’ starting with “The Rundown” of recent news stories, “Reelin’ In The Years” featuring guitarist Ross James of The Terrapin Family Band and “The Art Of The Sit-In” with Aqueous guitarist Mike Gantzer.
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