Photos by Arnie Goodman
World-renowned blues harmonica master James Cotton has died, 2017, of pneumonia, at in Austin, Texas
at age 81. Cotton toured for over 60 years, making his powerful harmonica playing one of the iconic sounds of the blues, worldwide. Known as “Mr. Superharp,” he recorded nearly 30 solo albums, winning one Grammy Award, six Living Blues Awards, 10 Blues Music Awards and was inducted into the Blues Hall Of Fame in 2006.
Widely acclaimed as one of the greatest blues harmonica player of all time, Cotton was a working musician by age nine. He learned harmonica directly from Sonny Boy Williamson II (Rice Miller). Cotton toured with Williamson, Howlin’ Wolf, and Muddy Waters and was featured on Muddy’s iconic version of Got My Mojo Working, one of the classic recordings of Chicago Blues.
Cotton also guested on recordings by Koko Taylor, Steve Miller, Memphis Slim, Hubert Sumlin and many others. He was joined on his own albums by stars like Todd Rundgren, Steve Miller, Johnny Winter, Dr. John, David Sanborn, Charlie Haden, Michael Bloomfield and Cissy Houston. His bands featuring outstanding musicians including Luther Tucker, Matt “Guitar” Murphy and Hubert Sumlin. He quickly rose to the top of the blues and rock worlds and was adopted by the burgeoning hippie audience, sharing stages with Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, B.B. King, Santana, Steve Miller, Freddie King and many others.
Cotton is survived by his wife Jacklyn, daughters Teresa and Marshall Ann, and son James Patrick, as well as numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.