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James Cotton 2007
July 1, 1935|
Tunica, Mississippi, United States
March 16, 2017 (aged 81)|
Austin, Texas, United States
|Genres||Blues, Chicago blues, Delta blues, Electric blues, Jazz, Memphis blues, Rock|
|Instruments||Vocals, harmonica, drums|
Cotton first became interested in playing music when he heard Sonny Boy Williamson on the radio. He left his home to find Sonny Boy Williamson, and when he found him (in West Helena, Arkansas), Williamson took him in and raised him. Blues singer Bobby Bland was his half-brother.
Cotton first began playing the blues harp in Williamson's band, called Howlin Wolf's. After one gig, Sonny Boy quit the band to live with his wife in Milwaukee. He left the band in Cotton's hands. Cotton said, ""He just gave it to me. But I couldn't hold it together 'cause I was too young and crazy in those days an' everybody in the band was grown men, so much older than me."
Cotton started working with the Muddy Waters Band in 1955. He performed songs like "I Got My Mojo Working" and "She's Nineteen Years Old". After leaving Muddy's band in 1966, Cotton toured with Janis Joplin. Alone, Cotton wrote classic songs like "Cotton Crop Blues", "Rocket 88" and "Hold Me In Your Arms". He formed the James Cotton Blues Band in 1967. They performed all of Cotton's classics and more.
Cotton played harmonica on Muddy Water's Grammy Award winning 1977 album Hard Again. James Cotton's band would also get nominated for two Grammy Awards. The first one was for his 1984 release, Live From Chicago: Mr. Superharp Himself!. His second for Take Me Back.
Cotton played with the following people:
- Big Mama Thornton
- Janis Joplin
- Sonny Boy Williamson
- Howlin' Wolf
- Muddy Waters
- Led Zeppelin
- Freddie King
- Steve Miller
- B.B. King
- The Grateful Dead
- Willie "Big Eyes" Smith
- Johnny Winter
- Jimmie Vaughan
- Todd Rundgren
- Chicago/The Blues/Today! vol. 2
- Take Me Back
- 3 Harp Boogie
- Live from Chicago Mr. Superharp Himself
- High Compression
- 100% Cotton
- Live & On the Move
- Cut You Loose!
- Mighty Long Time
- Fire Down Under the Hill
- Baby, Don't You Tear My Cloths
- Deep in the Blues
- Living the Blues
- 35th Anniversary Jam
- Allmusic biography by Bill Dahl
- Herzhaft, Gérard (1997). Encyclopedia of the Blues (2 ed.). Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press. p. 45. . https://books.google.com/books?id=sOKZKESWys0C&pg=PA45.
- Friskics-Warren, Bill (June 24, 2013). "Bobby (Blue) Bland, Soul and Blues Balladeer, Dies at 83". New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/25/arts/music/bobby-blue-bland-soul-and-blues-balladeer-dies-at-83.html.
- Andrew Flanagan (March 16, 2017). "James Cotton, Giant Of The Blues Harmonica, Dies At 81". NPR. https://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2017/03/16/520453907/james-cotton-legend-of-the-blues-harmonica-dies-at-81. Retrieved March 16, 2017.
- All Music Guide
- James Cotton discography from Music City
- His official website
- Review of Breakin' It Up Breakin' It Down CD