Who was/is James Cotton ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more

The James Cotton Band

For much of the ‘70s, harp blaster James Cotton fronted one of the highest-energy blues bands in the business

A product of Tunica, Mississippi, born on July 1, 1935, Cotton's harp mentor from age nine was Sonny Boy Williamson. "I heard Sonny Boy one day over station KFFA in Arkansas. He was singing songs and blowing harmonica. And I liked it. So I told my uncle about it," says Cotton. "I guess six or seven months later he took me to see him." Williamson's tough love tutelage was invaluable. "I stayed with Sonny Boy six years.  The only thing Sonny Boy did was just kind of guide me along. He never picked up a harp and said, 'Play this,' or 'Play that.' I just kind of watched him do it, and I was around him all the time.

15-year-old James inherited Sonny Boy's band after Williamson's wife split. "She moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and we was in West Memphis, Arkansas," says Cotton. "So I guess after she was there six or seven months, Sonny Boy couldn't take it no more. He just walked in one night and gave me the band, and cut out the next morning. The band didn't stay together long. I was a kid."

Howlin' Wolf hired the youth to play on a ‘52 date at Sam Phillips' Memphis studio. Phillips signed James to a Sun Records contract the next year. "I used to be on the radio, station KWEM, West Memphis, Arkansas, from 3:00 ‘til 3:15," he says. "I guess Phillips heard the show, and he called me over and asked me if I wanted to do some recording." Pat Hare's raging guitar sliced through Cotton's '54 Sun encore, Cotton Crop Blues. Later that year, Muddy Waters brought him north to Chicago.

"Muddy had been on a tour down through Tennessee, Georgia, Florida," says Cotton. "Junior Wells was playing with him. Something happened where Junior left the band. He was coming back to Memphis to play, and he needed a harp player. Everybody told him about me, and he came over and found me."  Perhaps Cotton's most memorable moment with Waters came when he blew up a tornado at the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival on Muddy's Got My Mojo Working (this live version is often regarded as definitive). "I put the arrangement on there," he notes.

Cotton finally went on his own in 1966. "I wanted to stretch out more on my harp and play more," he says. "A lot of things I wanted to play that I couldn't play in the band, because I was playing Muddy Waters' music." He waxed the first of his three solo LPs for Verve Forecast the next year. "That's the first album that ever kicked off anything for us," says James.

Bassist Charles Calmese and drummer Kenny Johnson drove the Cotton Band's 1974 Buddah LP ‘100% Cotton' like a runaway semi behind James' full-throttle harp and roaring vocals, but ex-Memphis Slim sideman Matt ‘Guitar' Murphy was its MVP. "Matt Murphy joined me about seven years after I had the band," says Cotton. Boogie Thing led it off, the modal Murphy composition not far removed from John Lee Hooker's endless boogie groove with Pete Jekanowski guesting on piano. "'100% Cotton' is the one that's been keeping the bacon in the box," notes Cotton.

Mr. Superharp's voice has been ravaged in recent years by throat cancer, but his harmonica chops remain as prodigious as ever.

Bill Dahl
Chicago, Illinois


Electric Blues 1939-2005. - The Definitive Collection!



Copyright © Bear Family Records®. Copying, also of extracts, or any other form of reproduction, including the adaptation into electronic data bases and copying onto any data mediums, in English or in any other language is permissible only and exclusively with the written consent of Bear Family Records® GmbH.

More information about James Cotton on Wikipedia.org

No results were found for the filter!
Buddah Blues: Live & On The Move / High Energy / 100 % Cotton (3-CD)
James Cotton: Buddah Blues: Live & On The Move / High Energy... Art-Nr.: CDFLOAT6331

Item must be ordered

(Floating World) 40 tracks. This 3CD set combines three original albums that Cotton recorded for Buddah Records: The powerful double LP live album 'Live & On The Move' (1976), 'High Energy' (1975) produced by Allen Toussaint and '100%...
Two Sides Of The Blues (CD)
James Cotton: Two Sides Of The Blues (CD) Art-Nr.: CDMVD0985

Item must be ordered

(MVDaudio) 9 Tracks (27:42) - Brilliant 1960s Soul Blues with a Go-Go feeling plus Downhome Country Blues!
Mighty Long Time
James Cotton: Mighty Long Time Art-Nr.: CDANT2501

Item must be ordered

(2015/Texas Music Group) 16 tracks. New edition of the Antone's classic from the 1990s with 4 bonus tracks!
Live At Antone's Nightclub (180 g)
James Cotton: Live At Antone's Nightclub (180 g) Art-Nr.: LPANT3502

only 2x still available
Ready to ship today, delivery time** appr. 1-3 workdays

(2015/Texas Music Group) 8 tracks. Incl. download card.
Mighty Long Time  (2-LP, 180g)
James Cotton: Mighty Long Time (2-LP, 180g) Art-Nr.: LPANT3501

Item must be ordered

(2015/Texas Music Group) 16 tracks. New edition of the Antone's classic from the 1990s with 4 bonus tracks! Includes a remastered digital download.
Live At Antone's
James Cotton: Live At Antone's Art-Nr.: CDANT2502

Item must be ordered

(2015/Texas Music Group) 8 tracks.
Chicago Harp Showdown
James Cotton: Chicago Harp Showdown Art-Nr.: CD061985

Item must be ordered

(2013/Fuel 2000) 18 tracks. 2013 release from the Blues great, a collection of 18 carefully selected rarities from the archives of Alligence Records. All tracks remastered from the original tapes.
My Baby b-w Straighten Up Baby 7inch, 45rpm
James Cotton: My Baby b-w Straighten Up Baby 7inch, 45rpm Art-Nr.: REP03061

Item must be ordered

blues blaster - nice!
Hold Me In Your Arms b-w Cotton Crup Blues 7inch, 45rpm
James Cotton: Hold Me In Your Arms b-w Cotton Crup Blues... Art-Nr.: REP03062

Item must be ordered

blues blaster - nice!
Cotton Mouth Man
James Cotton: Cotton Mouth Man Art-Nr.: CDAL4954

only 1x still available
Ready to ship today, delivery time** appr. 1-3 workdays

(2013 'Alligator') (48:56/13) New CD with many guests: JOE BONAMASSA, GREGG ALLMAN, KEB' MO, WARREN HAYNES, RUTHIE FOSTER, DARRELL NULISH, and many more.
How Long Can A Fool Go Wrong (2-CD)
James Cotton: How Long Can A Fool Go Wrong (2-CD) Art-Nr.: CD250287

Item must be ordered

James Cotton, one of the most energetic harmonica players in blues history. This great live set was recorded during his high-energy period. Backed by a superb funky blues band, this is a classic. JAMES COTTON - hca/voc, MATT 'GUITAR'...
James Cotton: Giant Art-Nr.: CDAL4940

Item must be ordered

Cotton is back on Alligator. It was for Bruce Iglauer's label that he recorded some of his finest, modern, funky sides during the mid-eighties. Cotton, one of the world's greatest harmonica players, ever is still in great shape, although...
Take Me Back
James Cotton: Take Me Back Art-Nr.: BPLP2587

Item must be ordered

(1988 'Blind Pig') Blind Pig
$23.69 $33.19
Mighty Long Time
James Cotton: Mighty Long Time Art-Nr.: CDFLOAT6017

This article is deleted and can no longer be ordered!

Re-issue of his'classic' early 1990s set, recorded in Austin, Texas. No funk, no horns, strictly the blues - hicago style. Outstanding, and fascinating, also thanks to the great support. Comes with a live bonus cut. JAMES COTTON '...
$10.39 $15.14
3 Harp Boogie
James Cotton: 3 Harp Boogie Art-Nr.: CDTOM2123

Item must be ordered

(1963/67) (27:42/09) Acoustic session (1963): JAMES COTTON - hca/voc, PAUL BUTTERFIELD, BILLY BOY ARNOLD - hcas, ELVIN BISHOP - gtr. Eelectric session (1967): JAMES COTTON - hca/voc, LUTHER TUCKER - gtr, ALBERTO GIANQUINTO - pno, ROBERT...
35th Anniversary Jam
James Cotton: 35th Anniversary Jam Art-Nr.: CD83550

Item must be ordered

Around 1966, Cotton left the Muddy Waters Band to form his own unit. This '35th anniversary' is the idea behind this album, which doens't due Cotton justice. I would have loved to hear more heavy-weight contemporaries. This is just...
$11.81 $19.89
Fire Down Under The Hill
James Cotton: Fire Down Under The Hill Art-Nr.: CD83497

Item must be ordered

(1999 'Telarc') (51:48/10) Sein Leben lang hat er auf der höchsten Energiestufe gearbeitet, bis zum Umfallen auf der Bühne geschuftet und sich die Seele aus dem Hals gesungen und geschrien. Seit einigen Jahren ist seine Stimme nur kaum...