Anyone who's followed the course of modern popular music is aware of the vast influence exerted on its development by the large numbers of blues artists who collectively shaped and defined the approach to amplified music in the late 1940s and early '50s. Chicago was the pivotal point for the development and dissemination of the modern blues and virtually everything else has flowed, in one way or another, from this rich source.
The revolution began inauspiciously enough in 1948 with the release of a 78-rpm single by a singer-guitarist called Muddy Waters. Coupled on Aristocrat 1305 were a pair of traditional Mississippi Delta-styled pieces "I Cant Be Satisfied" and "I Feel Like Going Home," and on them Waters' dark, majestic singing. Waters' use of amplification gave his guitar playing a new, powerful, striking edge and sonority that introduced to traditional music a sound its listeners found very exciting, comfortably familiar yet strangely compelling and, above all, immensely powerful, urgent.
From the start it was he who dominated the music, who led the way-in style, sound, repertoire, instrumentation, in every way-first as a greatly popular club performer from the mid-1940s on and, a few years later, as the most influential recording artist in the new amplified blues idiom. In the years 1948-55 he put forth for definition the fundamental approaches and usages of modern blues in a remarkable series of ground-breaking and, as time has shown, classic records. In the years since, the style Waters delineated has been extended, fragmented, elaborated and otherwise commercialized, but the fundamental earthy, vital, powerful sound of the postwar blues as defined by Muddy and his bandsmen has yet to be excelled-or even equaled, come to that. It's no accident The Rolling Stones chose their name from one of Waters' finest early recordings the choice was merely prophetic, for Muddy and his magnificent bedrock music continue to resonate as thrillingly and powerfully through the music of today as they did back in the late '40s and early '50s when we first heard them.