Blues harp giant James Cotton, dead at 81

Paul Natkin/Getty ImagesBlues harmonica master James Cotton has died, his label, Alligator Records, confirms. He was 81. Cotton died Thursday of pneumonia at a hospital in Austin, Texas.

Born on a Cotton plantation in Mississippi in 1935, Cotton learned to play harp from Sonny Boy Williamson II and as a teenager in the early 1950s played live with Williamson and Howlin’ Wolf. He is best known for the twelve years he spent as part of Muddy Waters‘ famous Chicago blues band in the 1950s and early 1960s, splitting duties in the recording studio with fellow blues harp …read more