I Want To Be Loved: Revitalizing Muddy Waters’ Image

It was chi-muddy-waters-home-museum-20140128-001recently announced by Billboard that Jampol Artist Management, Inc. (JAM, Inc.) will be handling the estate of Muddy Waters. So if you hear “Hoochie Coochie Man” in a vodka ad, the sky is not falling.

The firm, which partnered with the private investment firm Shamrock Capital Advisers back in June for the sole purpose of acquiring musical estates, already handles the affairs of several legendary artists, including Otis Redding, The Ramones, The Doors, Janis Joplin, Rick James, and Jefferson Airplane.

In a statement, Jam Inc. said that  “Muddy will be remembered as one of the founding fathers of the genre of music called the blues, one of the greatest guitarists of his generation and an icon in history who helped to shape and define American culture through his music.” Which is undoubtedly true. But the question becomes what form this takes on.

JAM, Inc.’s stated purpose is to “introduce new generations to legacy artists’ extant recordings, images, writings and other artistic expressions via such mediums as recordings, film and TV, theater, books, museums, apparel, merchandise and more, ” according to the article. This isn’t inherently bad, and slated projects–a Ramones’ fortieth anniversary box set, a celebration of Otis Redding’s 75th anniversary, a Janis Joplin documentary–could do much to introduce acts to a younger audience.

In the case of blues, the average listener is 45 to 54 years old. An individual in a younger demographic might know AC/DC or Eric Clapton (both of whom describe Waters as a primary influence), or listen to the Rolling Stones (whose name comes from one of Waters’ most famous songs), but it’s rare that they’ll go all the way back to the source.

The challenge, therefore, is to educate young people while also not going all the way to their terms to the point in which an archetypal bluesman’s stature and notoriety are cheapened. (It’s a lot easier to happen than you’d think.)

Anyway, stay tuned.

J. Howard Rosier

J. Howard Rosier

J. Howard Rosier has a journalism degree from Columbia College. He is currently studying writing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he also serves as News Editor for FNews.

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