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Blues Legend Eddy Clearwater Wins Blues Blast Magazine's Lifetime Achievement Award

[09/14/2015]
Legendary Chicago bluesman Eddy Clearwater will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from Blues Blast online magazine. Clearwater will accept his award in person at the 9th Annual Blues Blast Music Awards Ceremonies on September 25th, 2015 at the Fluid Events Center in Champaign, Illinois.

Clearwater is an intense, flamboyant, blues-rocking showman. He’s equally comfortable playing the deepest, most heartfelt blues or rocking, good-time party music. DownBeat says, "Left-hander Eddy Clearwater is a forceful six-stringer...He lays down some gritty West Side shuffles and belly-grinding slow blues that highlight his raw chops, soulful vocals, and earthy, humorous lyrics."

Between his slashing guitar work, his room-filling vocals, and his self-defined “rock-a-blues” style (a mix of blues, rock, rockabilly, country and gospel), Clearwater is among the very finest practitioners of the West Side Chicago blues. He won the Blues Music Award for Contemporary Blues – Male Artist of the Year in 2001. His 2003 CD, Rock ‘N’ Roll City (Bullseye Blues) was nominated for a Grammy Award.

WEST SIDE STRUT, released on Alligator in 2008, is an energized mix of West Side blues and old school rock injected with a tough, up-to-the-minute contemporary edge. Featuring some of Eddy’s hottest playing ever recorded, the CD burns with his stinging guitar and rough-and-ready vocals. Guests include Eddy’s old friends Lonnie Brooks, Jimmy Johnson, Billy Branch and Otis Clay as well as Ronnie Baker Brooks (who also produced) playing some scintillating guitar parts.

Born Edward Harrington on January 10, 1935 in Macon, MS, Eddy and his family moved to Birmingham, AL in 1948. With music from blues to gospel to country and western surrounding him from an early age, Eddy taught himself to play guitar (left-handed and upside down), and began performing with various gospel groups, including the legendary Five Blind Boys of Alabama. After moving to Chicago in 1950, Eddy stayed with an uncle and took a job as a dishwasher, saving as much as he could from his $37 a week salary. His first music jobs were with gospel groups playing in local churches. Through his uncle’s contacts, Eddy met many of Chicago’s blues stars. He fell deeper under the spell of the blues, and befriended Magic Sam, who would become one of Eddy’s closest friends and teachers.

By 1953, as Guitar Eddy, he was making a strong name for himself, working the South and West Side bars regularly. After hearing Chuck Berry in 1957, Eddy added that rock and roll element to his already searing blues style, creating a unique sound that defines him to this day. He recorded his first single, Hill Billy Blues, for his uncle’s Atomic H label in 1958 under the name Clear Waters (his manager at the time, drummer Jump Jackson, came up with the name as a play on Muddy Waters).

The name Clear Waters morphed into Eddy Clearwater, and Eddy worked the local circuit steadily throughout the 1950s, 1960s and into the 1970s. He found huge success in the 1970s among Chicago's young rock 'n' roll fans, who responded to his individual brand of blues, his rock and roll spirit and his high energy stage show.

His first full-length LP, 1980’s The Chief, was the initial release on Chicago’s Rooster Blues label. A number of records for various labels has kept him in-demand around the globe. His slicing guitar licks and "rock-a-blues" music -- along with his uninhibited live show -- give fans a dose of the real West Side Chicago blues played by a legendary blues master.