Big Bill Morganfield

(Website)

It is the dream of many fathers for their sons to follow in their footsteps. McKinley Morganfield, better known as Muddy Waters, always lamented the fact that younger black people did not seem interested in his music. If he were alive today, he would be very proud of his son Big Bill Morganfield. An avalanche of praise followed the release of Bill’s recording debut, 1999’s “Rising Son”. Perhaps the most gratifying acknowledgment of all came with Bill winning the year 2000, W.C. Handy Award for “Best New Blues Artist”, the equivalent of a Grammy Award in the blues world.

Born in Chicago in 1956, Bill Morganfield was raised by his grandmother in southern Florida and now resides in the Atlanta area. His father’s legacy lives on in the tools of his art. Big Bill has both Muddy’s touring amp and the guitars on which he composed some of his earliest works. More importantly, Bill carries Muddy’s spirit and love for the blues, and says he feels a spiritual bond with his father when he’s on stage. Musically, his father’s influence came somewhat later.But Bill didn’t start off with the idea of being a professional musician until years later. It wasn’t until after his father’s death in 1983 that Bill decided to explore his musical heritage.

He became stagestruck after performing with Lonnie Mack on Atlanta’s Center Stage before a crowd of a thousand people. He first formed a band that played contemporary blues but that lasted only three months. He retreated to his room to devote his energy to perfecting his guitar playing and sharpening his raw but undeniable talent. In the meantime, he used his bachelor’s degrees in English from Tuskegee University and Communications from Auburn University to make a living as a teacher while he learned to play traditional blues. He spent countless hours methodically studying, ripping apart, and reconstructing songs. Immersing himself in this work, Bill learned the art of of song writing.

Big Bill’s debut recording, “Rising Son,” was cut in Chicago where his father recorded so many classic sides. The album was produced by Muddy’s long time guitarist, and a close friend of Bill’s, Bob Margolin, who also played on the record. Three other former members of the Muddy Waters Blues Band also joined Bill in the studio: Willie “Big Eyes” Smith on drums, Paul Oscher on harmonica and Pinetop Perkins on piano. The combo was completed with the legendary Chicago blues master and former Sunnyland Slim band member Robert Stroger on bass.

Albums

Ramblin Mind

Label: Dixiefrog
Distribution in France: Night & Day

Now, “Ramblin’ Mind” fulfills “Rising Son’s” promise of greatness and documents the maturation of a major blues star. Big Bill’s story is simply a great one, and as the son of one of the most influential musicians of the 20th Century, Bill has proven himself up to the challenge of meeting many of the burdensome expectations placed upon him. Big Bill’s continuing success in presenting a new Morganfield’s music into the next century would certainly make his father proud.Bill returned to Chicago to make his sophomore recording with special guest Taj Mahal and producer Dick Shurman. “Ramblin’ Mind” features Bill’s distinctive, window rattling baritone voice and scintillating slide guitar on a wide variety of material, including ten originals. One highlight of the recording experience was having Big Bill team up with Taj Mahal and harmonica ace Billy Branch on two tracks: an original song that Taj wrote exclusively for the project entitled “Strong Man Holler” and a song first recorded by Bill’s father, “You’re Gonna Miss Me”. Both men trade impressive vocal and guitar licks on these cuts.

Big Bill Morganfield - Ramblin Mind