James Cotton

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About James Cotton

James Cotton honed his unbridled, insouciant style as the blues' ultimate foundling; he was orphaned by age nine, and an uncle apprenticed him with Sonny Boy Williamson. Cotton wowed Williamson's fans when he opened for him on juke joint steps throughout Mississippi, then as a teen hooked onto Howlin' Wolf's tour. By his early twenties, he'd taken over for Little Walter as Muddy Waters' regular harmonica man. By the late '60s, Cotton could be relegated to sideman no longer; he took the reins of his own band, built his trademark electric sound, hit the road, and never looked back. An insatiable showman, Cotton continued to record and tour relentlessly into the 21st century, despite a voice worn to its nub by the '90s. He died in 2017 at the age of 81. ~ Jason Thurston

Tunica, MS, United States
July 1, 1935

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