James Cotton (aka “Mr. Superharp”) was a constant presence in the blues for over 70 years.
As a boy, he was mentored by the great Sonny Boy Williamson II. In the early 50s, he recorded a few of his own discs at Sun Records in Memphis before signing on for a 12-year stint with Muddy Waters.
In 1966, he formed the James Cotton Blues Band, just in time to ride the blues-fueled wave of rock music. He shared stages with megastars like Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead and Led Zeppelin.
In 1977 he reunited with Muddy Waters on a Johnny Winter-produced album, Hard Again. It won a Grammy for best ethnic or traditional recording. Cotton would be honored by the Grammys again for Deep In The Blues, a 1996 album he recorded for Verve. His final album, Cotton Mouth Blues, recorded for Alligator Records in 2013, was nominated for a Grammy. He was honored at Lincoln Center in 2010 and received the B.B. King Award in 2015 at the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal.
“I guess I was born with the blues, and I don’t know nothing else but the blues.” –James Cotton (July 1, 1935-March 16, 2017)