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James Cotton biography



James Cotton (born July 1, 1935, Tunica, Mississippi), is an American blues harmonica player, singer, and songwriter who is the bandleader for the James Cotton Blues Band. He also writes songs alone, and his solo career continues to this day. His work includes the following genres: blues, delta blues, harmonica blues, and electric harmonica blues. When Williamson left the south to live with his estranged wife in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he left his band in Cotton's hands. Cotton was quoted as saying, "He just gave it to me. But I couldn't hold it together 'cause I was too young and crazy in those days an' everybody in the band was grown men, so much older than me." Cotton performing in 2008Although he played drums early in his career, Cotton is famous for his work on the harmonica. Cotton began his professional career playing the blues harp in Howling Wolf's band in the early 1950s. He formed the James Cotton Blues Band in 1967. They mainly performed their own arrangements of popular blues and R&B material from the 1950s and 1960s. Two albums were recorded live in Montreal that year. James Cotton at Jeff Healey's blues nightclub in TorontoIn the 1960s, Cotton formed a blues band in the tradition of Bobby "Blue" Bland. Four tracks that featured the big band horn sound and traditional songs were captured on the album Two Sides of the Blue. In the 1970s, Cotton recorded several albums with Buddah Records. Cotton played harmonica on Muddy Water's Grammy Award winning 1977 album Hard Again, produced by Johnny Winter. The James Cotton Blues Band received a Grammy nomination in 1984 for Live From Chicago: Mr. Superharp Himself!, and a second for his 1987 release, Take Me Back. He finally was awarded a Grammy for Deep in the Blues in 1996 for Best Traditional Blues Album. Cotton appeared on the cover of Living Blues magazine in 1987 in the July/August issue (#76). He was featured in the same publication's 40th anniversary issue, released in 2010 in August/September. Cotton battled throat cancer in the mid-1990s, and his last recorded vocal performance was on 2000's Fire Down Under the Hill, but he continued to tour, utilizing singers or his backing band members as vocalists. Cotton's latest studio album, Giant, is scheduled for release on Alligator Records in late September 2010. On March 10, 2008, Cotton and Ben Harper inducted Little Walter into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They performed "Juke" and "My Babe" together at the induction ceremony, which was broadcast nationwide on VH1 Classic. On August 30, 2010, Cotton was the special guest on Larry Monroe's farewell broadcast of Blue Monday, which he hosted on KUT in Austin, Texas for nearly 30 years. Musical company Cotton has worked with a number of artists, such as:- Big Mama Thornton Janis Joplin Sonny Boy Williamson Howlin' Wolf Muddy Waters Led Zeppelin Freddie King Steve Miller Santana B.B. King The Grateful Dead Willie "Big Eyes" Smith Johnny Winter Jimmie Vaughan Todd Rundgren Taj Mahal Paul Butterfield Elvin Bishop William "Billy Boy" Arnold Charlie Musselwhite Joe Louis Walker Selected discography Chicago/The Blues/Today! vol. 2 1966 Cut You Loose! (Vanguard) 1967 Cotton in Your Ears (Verve) 1970 Taking Care of Business (Capitol) 1976 Live & On the Move (Buddah) 1978 High Energy (Buddah) 1984 High Compression (Alligator) 1986 Live from Chicago Mr. Superharp Himself (Alligator) 1987 Take Me Back (Blind Pig; reissued on vinyl 2009) 1988 Live at Antone's (Antone's) 1990 Harp Attack! (Alligator; w/ Carey Bell, Junior Wells, and Billy Branch) 1991 Mighty Long Time (Antone's) 1994 3 Harp Boogie (Tomato) 1994 Living the Blues (Verve) 1995 Two Sides of the Blues 1996 Deep in the Blues (Verve) 1998 Seems Like Yesterday (Justin Time) 1998 Late Night Blues: Live at the Penelope Café 1967 (Justin Time) 1999 Best of the Vanguard Years (Vanguard) 1999 Superharps (Telarc; w/ Charlie Musselwhite, Sugar Ray Norcia, and Billy Branch) 2000 Fire Down Under the Hill (Telarc) 2002 35th Anniversary Jam (Telarc) 2004 Baby, Don't You Tear My Clothes (Telarc) 2007 Breakin' it Up, Breakin' it Down (Legacy; with Muddy Waters and Johnny Winters) 2010 Giant (Alligator)