Mud has blues at heart
EING the son of a blues icon no doubt must have its ups and downs, writes Tony Glynn.
Between knowing fame since birth and yet as a result not seeing his father anywhere near as much as he would have liked, Larry "Mud" Morganfield – the eldest son of Muddy Waters – has seen both sides of the coin.
Mud was born during the peak of his dad's fame and so didn't exactly have an everyday upbringing.
The euphoria surrounding an international superstar hardly makes for a normal family home, but Muddy Junior is as grounded as the rest of us. Senior more than made up for his absences by buying his son a different drumkit every Christmas, and this nurtured a lifelong dedication to music.
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From the drums he moved to playing bass, and from bass he progressed to singing and songwriting.
It soon became clear that Junior was a chip off the old block whose resemblance in sound, appearance and presence was uncanny.
Such similarity, however, was not always welcome – perhaps not least by Mud himself, who said: "People would say 'We don't need another Muddy, you got to be your own man'. So I had other things I was considering doing with my life. Just because you're the son of someone famous doesn't mean you have to do what he does."
Being an individual and very much his own man, Mud tired of the comparisons and reacted by staying out of the industry. Staying out of music altogether, however, was not an option, and he never stopped playing in private. Now 57, he has only become professional in the last ten years. Why so late?
"I just had the blues so bad. It just kept calling me out until it won out. Pops opened many doors for me, but when you get in those doors you have to bring the goods too."
Despite Mud's pride in his Chicago roots, his appeal translates to audiences worldwide, and this is down to his songs, which deal with human conditions, such as love and loss, which we all can relate to.
The beauty of blues music is that it's not confined to a particular time or place.
Although Mud has inhabited a world different than his father in many ways, people will always be people – and it's humanity, not politics or religion, that the blues is really about.
"I just get in where I fit in," he says. "The wheels in an artist never stop turning, we're always trying to improve. Sometimes we even go overboard some, but it's only because we're trying to give people great shows.
"But here's the kicker: you get paid to do something you love to do.
"I stay humbled, though. I would never get arrogant because that can only make you lose everything."
The future is bright for the bluesman, who is touring the UK and appeared on the Jools Holland show last week.
"There's a bunch of great stuff happening now but I'm just trying to keep grounded and give people what they want to hear."
Mud Morganfield plays The Palladium, Bideford on Friday, November 30. Doors: 8pm.
Tickets: £14 in advance or £15 on the door. Advance tickets at the club (01237 478860), on www.ticketweb.co.uk and at Solo Music (01271 325274).