Magazine article Guitar Player

Big Bill Morganfield

Magazine article Guitar Player

Big Bill Morganfield

Article excerpt

Keeper of the Flame

Amassive torch was laid at the feet of Big Bill Morganfield when his father, Muddy Waters, died in 1983. "I've been told I used to drag a guitar around the house before I could even walk," says Morganfield, who was raised in Florida by his grandmother. "But it wasn't until after my dad died that I learned to play. My father's death really hurt, because there were a lot of things my dad and I missed out on. I felt the only way I could get close to him was by teaching myself the blues."

Morganfield's new album, Ramblin' Mind [Blind Pig], proves the 44 year old taught himself well. Not only does the album feature Morganfield's husky vocals and stirring, delta guitar licks--both of which evoke his father--it also brings together Waters' bandmates pianist Pinetop Perkins, rhythm guitarist Bob Margolin, drummer Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, and harmonica player Paul Oscher. In addition, special guest Taj Mahal joins Morganfield on "Strong Man Holler."

"My father said it only took him a year to get good," says Morganfield. "Well, it took me a lot longer." But as Morganfield struggled with the language of blues guitar, he found a huge educational resource in an MTV Unplugged video featuring one of the world's biggest Muddy Waters fans: Eric Clapton. "That video opened a lock," says Morganfield. "By watching Clapton's fingers and using the tablature, I soon had the blues scale down, the chord patterns down, and how to put turnarounds in a song. …

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