Village of WestmontDate Issued: April 27, 2016
Many people know that blues legend Muddy Waters called Westmont home for most of the 70’s. But now Westmont can lay claim to TWO blues hall of fame inductees as Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater will join the ranks of elite bluesmen this coming May. “This feels like a dream,” said Clearwater about his induction into the hall of fame.
Clearwater moved to Westmont in 1980 when his son was born. Clearwater had known Muddy Waters since the 50’s and Muddy invited Eddy to his house so that he could meet Eddy’s newborn son.
Clearwater was born in Macon, Mississippi and moved to the Chicago area when he was 15 years old. “I was too shy to talk,” Eddy recalls about the first time he saw Muddy perform. Later that year, Eddy worked up the confidence to introduce himself to Muddy one night at the 708 Club, located at 708 E. 47th Street on the southside of Chicago. “I was in awe of him.” Shortly after that, Eddy would be playing at various open mic events, and Muddy would say “We have Eddy Clearwater in the audience tonight,” and invite Eddy up on stage to play a couple of songs with the blues legend. Some of the clubs they used to frequent included the Green Door and Smitty’s Corner. At that time, legendary blues harmonica player Little Walter was part of the band.
Eddy recalls that one time a friend from Germany was in the area and was hoping to meet Muddy. Muddy invited the two of them over to the house to say hello, and it turned into a two and a half hour visit. When the friend left Muddy’s house, all of the sudden he realized that he forgot to get a photo with the blues legend. Muddy had a reputation for making people so comfortable that they’d forget that he was an international music star.
Eddy’s birthname was Harrington, but his first manager, Jump Jackson, coined the last name “Clearwater”, which is a direct play on the trademarked name “Muddy Waters”. The nickname “The Chief” came from the fact that Eddy’s grandmother was a full-blooded Cherokee and he was always attracted to Cherokee culture. When it came time to create the artwork for his first album, he wanted to be riding a horse and wearing a headdress, and the them stayed with him for his entire career.
Eddy said one of the highlights of his career was his first tour of Europe. He was part of a band that included blues legends Buddy Guy, Jr.Wells, Jimmy Johnson, and Hubert Sumlin.
Eddy returns to his former home today to visit the Muddy Water Historical Exhibit in Westmont and loan a variety of items to be included in the museum. Additionally, he will be accompanied by a couple of his band members to perform a few songs. The public is invited to attend. Clearwater is expected to arrive in Westmont about 4 p.m. at Westmont Centre, 1 S. Cass Avenue.
Contact: Larry McIntyreVillage of Westmont Communications Director630-981-6245, McIntyre@westmont.il.gov