James Cotton

The blues harmonica giant, who is now 72, reunited with his former boss Muddy Waters in 1977 for the Grammy-winning Hard Again, which was spearheaded and produced by Beaumont’s Johnny Winter. After the success of the album, the three went on the road, but until the tapes that make up the new release Breakin’ It Up & Breakin’ It Down (Epic Legacy) were discovered, there was scant documentation of the historic tour.

You left Muddy’s band in 1966. Why did he reach out to you so many years later?

After all those years with Muddy, he knew I could play his style.

On the tour, having a rock star in a blues band must have made for an interesting audience mix.

Muddy had his audience, Johnny had his, and I had mine. We all blended together.

What’s your fondest memory of these shows?

It was the last recording I ever made with Muddy, and I will always carry that precious memory with me.

Like yourself, another Muddy Waters alum has relocated to Austin, the pianist Pinetop Perkins.

I’ve known Pinetop pretty much all my life. I sure love that man. Pinetop is 94 years old now, and he makes me feel young!

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