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Posts Tagged ‘James Cotton’

RIP, James Cotton (March 16, 2017) Blues Great

Posted by themusicsover on March 16, 2017

James Cotton
July 1, 1935 – March 16, 2017

Photo: Brian McMillen /

According to a press release from Alligator Records, world-renowned blues harmonica master James Cotton, whom Rolling Stone called, “One of the greats of all time, burning with brilliant virtuosity,” died on March 16, 2017 of pneumonia at St. David’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas. He was 81. His overwhelmingly powerful harmonica playing was one of the iconic sounds of the blues. He toured worldwide for over 60 years.

Born on a cotton plantation in Tunica, Mississippi on July 1, 1935, Cotton was a working musician by age nine. He learned harmonica directly from Sonny Boy Williamson II (Rice Miller), toured with Williamson and Howlin’ Wolf, and recorded for Sun Records in 1953 before spending 12 years touring and recording with Muddy Waters (starting at age 20). Cotton was featured on Muddy’s famous 1960 At Newport LP on Chess Records, including the iconic version of Got My Mojo Working, one of the classic recordings of Chicago Blues.

After his 1953 Sun sessions, Cotton didn’t record under his own name again until the mid-1960s, with tracks included in the groundbreaking Chicago/The Blues/Today! series of LPs on Vanguard. Along with Otis Spann, he cut The Blues Never Die! for Prestige.

In 1966 he formed The James Cotton Band, quickly earning a reputation as one of the most commanding and potent live blues performers in the world—a man who could literally suck the reeds out of his harmonica from the pure force of his playing. He made his initial solo albums, three for Verve and one for Vanguard, in the late 1960s.

Cotton’s blistering talent and full-throttle energy kept him in demand at concert halls all over the country. He played the Fillmore East in New York, the Fillmore West in San Francisco and every major rock and blues venue in between. During the 1970s, he cut three albums for Buddah and one for Capitol.

Cotton signed with Alligator Records in 1984, releasing two solo albums and the famed Harp Attack! with Junior Wells, Carey Bell and Billy Branch. He won a Grammy Award in 1996 for his Verve album, Deep In The Blues and recorded four albums for Telarc Records before returning to Alligator in 2010. His most recent recording was 2013’s Grammy-nominated Cotton Mouth Man.

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Died On This Date (August 12, 1997) Luther Allison / Chicago Blues Legend

Posted by themusicsover on August 12, 2010

Luther Allison
August 17, 1939 – August 12, 1997

Luther Allison was a gifted Chicago blues guitarist who backed up both Howlin’ Wolf and James Cotton.  One of his first admires was Muddy Waters who invited Allison to join him on stage when he was just 18.  He started making records in the early ’60s and building a substantial following based in part on his lengthy live shows.   In 1972, Allison became the first and one of the few ever blues artists to be signed to Motown Records.  During the late ’70s, he moved to France where he was very popular.  He eventually moved back to the United States were he continued to perform and record well into the ’90s.  In 1997, Luther Allison died of a brain tumor at the age of 57.

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Luther's Blues - Luther Allison

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Died On This Date (May 25, 2005) Domenic Troiano / Respected Rock Guitarist

Posted by themusicsover on May 25, 2010

Domenic Troiano
January 17, 1946 – May 25, 2005

DomBorn in Italy, but a citizen of Canada since 1955, Domenic Troiano was an in-demand rock guitarist who played with such greats as Ronnie Hawkins, the James Gang, and the Guess Who.  Forming his own band in the late ’70s, Troiano had a hit with “We All Need Love,” which was actually more disco than rock.  As a session player, he worked on recordings by Joe Cocker, Long John Baldry and James Cotton.  Domenic Troiano died of prostate cancer at the age of 59.

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Died On This Date (April 15, 2008) Sean Costello / Young Blues Sensation

Posted by themusicsover on April 15, 2010

Sean Costello
April 16, 1979 – April 15, 2008

Sean Costello was an extremely talented blues singer, songwriter,  and guitarist who, by the age of 14 had already won a Beale Street Blues Society talent contest and had formed his first band.   Costello recorded his first able at 16, and was invited to play lead guitar on Susan Tedeschi’s Just Won’t Burn album.    On stage, Costello left his audiences screaming for more.  His guitar skills and showmanship allowed him to comfortably share the stage with Buddy Guy, B.B. King,  and James Cotton.  On April 15, 2008, Sean Costello’s lifeless body was found in his hotel room.  The coroner’s report concluded that he had died of an accidental overdose.  His parents soon announced that Costello had suffered from Bipolar disorder which may have played a role in his death.

Thanks to Craig Rosen at Number1Albums for the assist.

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Cuttin' In - Sean Costello

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