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Author: Subject: RIP Blues Legend Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater

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  posted on 6/3/2018 at 02:00 AM
In Memoriam
Blues Legend Eddy Clearwater: January 10, 1935 – June 1, 2018
Grammy-nominated Chicago blues legend Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater died of heart failure on Friday, June 1, in his hometown of Skokie, Illinois. He was 83.

Born Edward Harrington on January 10, 1935 in Macon, Mississippi, Clearwater (as he came to be known) was internationally lauded for his blues-rocking guitar playing, his original songs and his flamboyant showmanship. He was inducted into the Blues Hall Of Fame in 2016, and also won two Blues Music Awards including Contemporary Male Blues Artist Of The Year in 2001.

Clearwater was equally comfortable playing the deepest, most intense blues or his own brand of rocking, good-time party music – a style he called “rock-a-blues,” mixing blues, rock, rockabilly, country and gospel. Between his slashing guitar work and his room-filling vocals, Clearwater was among the very finest practitioners of the West Side style of Chicago blues. DownBeat called him “a forceful six-stringer…He lays down gritty West Side shuffles and belly-grinding slow blues that highlight his raw chops, soulful vocals, and earthy, humorous lyrics.” Blues Revue said he played “joyous rave-ups. He testifies with stunning soul fervor and powerful guitar. He is one of the blues’ finest songwriters.”

Clearwater’s musical talent became clear early on. From his Mississippi birthplace, He and his family moved to Birmingham, AL in 1948 when he was 13. With music from blues to gospel to country & western surrounding him from an early age, Clearwater 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, he 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, Clearwater 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 Clearwater’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, Clearwater added a rock and roll element to his already searing blues style, creating a unique signature sound. 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. He worked the Chicago club circuit steadily throughout the 1950s, 1960s and into the 1970s. He found huge success in the 1970s among the city’s college crowd, who responded to his individual brand of blues, his rock and roll spirit and his high energy stage show.

Clearwater’s first full-length LP, 1980’s The Chief, was the initial release on Chicago’s Rooster Blues label, launching him onto the national and international blues scene. Over the decades he recorded over 15 solo albums and never stopped touring, with fans from Chicago to Japan to Poland. His 2003 album on Bullseye Blues, Rock ‘N’ Roll City, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album. He released West Side Strut on Alligator in 2008 to both international popular and critical acclaim. His most recent CD was the self-released Soul Funky in 2014.

Clearwater is survived by his wife, Renee Greenman Harrington Clearwater, children Heather Greenman, Alyssa Jacquelyn, David Knopf, Randy Greenman, Jason Harrington and Edgar Harrington and grandchildren Gabriella Knopf and Graham Knopf.

Services will be held on Tuesday, June 5 at 11:00am at Chicago Jewish Funerals, 8851 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie, IL 60077.

 

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Peach Head



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  posted on 6/3/2018 at 09:13 AM
First saw Eddy open for SRV in 1985 at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. It was only my 2nd time catching Stevie, so I was obviously excited. The Chief did not disappoint. I totally enjoyed his set and did not once wish he would hurry and end it so SRV could take the stage. RIP Chief!
https://youtu.be/BTEFLbUlPGA

[Edited on 6/3/2018 by meandean]

[Edited on 6/3/2018 by meandean]

 

Extreme Peach



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  posted on 6/4/2018 at 01:58 PM
My Eddie "The Chief" Clearwater story. Mid- 1980's I was in Charlotte for a 4 day seminar Held @ what is now the Sheraton. Wednesday night after dinner our group of about ten were discussing, what're we gonna do after dinner? Now this crowd is serious, buttoned up collar necktie wearing look @ me Mid-level execs. I had seen where "The Chief" was playing that night at the great little blues club in Chlt, The Doubledoor Inn. I told them, don't know about y'all, but I'm going to the doubledoor for some blues. Soon we're all headed out to catch the show. they had no clue what they were getting into. The Doubledoor was about as wide as a single car garage and not much deeper. It was packed to the walls. Out comes the Chief in full head gear Playing left-handed-upside-down guitar. He's got the place jumping and the crowd up on their feet moving. Soon the ties were off & in the rafters a couple of the ladies were dancing shoeless on the tables. One of the guys that worked for me would still bring up that night ten years later as the most fun he ever had while on the expense account. So rest in peace Chief, & thanks for a great memory checking out live music in one of those now disappearing hole-in-wall places! And speaking of the Doubledoor: Happy birthday Tinsley Ellis. Known around here as Heatrtfixer'57!

[Edited on 6/4/2018 by willieB69]

[Edited on 6/4/2018 by willieB69]

 

Extreme Peach



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  posted on 6/4/2018 at 02:32 PM
That's a great story, WillieB69

Here's to all the stuffy, frustrated corporate-types who brave to let loose once in a while!

 
 


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