James Cotton, American blues harmonica player, Died at 81

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James Henry Cotton was born on July 1, 1935, and died on March 16, 2017.

He was an American blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter.

Cotton performed and recorded with many of the great blues artists of his time and with his own band.

Cotton played drums early in his career but is famous for his harmonica playing.

He started his professional career playing the blues harp in Howlin’ Wolf’s band in the early 1950s.

James made his first recordings in Memphis for Sun Records, under the direction of Sam Phillips.

During 1955, Cotton was hired by Muddy Waters to come to Chicago and join his band.

He became Waters’s bandleader and stayed with the group until 1965.

During 1965, Cotton formed the Jimmy Cotton Blues Quartet, with Otis Spann on piano, to record between gigs with Waters’s band.

Eventually, Cotton left Waters to form his own full-time touring group.

James’ first full album, on Verve Records, was produced by guitarist Mike Bloomfield and vocalist and songwriter Nick Gravenites, who later were members of the band Electric Flag.

During the 1970s, he played harmonica on Waters’s Grammy Award–winning 1977 album Hard Again, produced by Johnny Winter.

He died due to pneumonia.

James Cotton passed away at 81 years old.

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