Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater
"A focused mixture of T-Bone Walker cool and distinctly Chicago riffage… uncanny grooves… satisfying and funky." --Billboard
One of the Blues most colorful and compelling characters, best songwriters and a stylist capable of hard driving, Windy City blues and fretwork fireworks, Chicago legend - Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater - is an intense, flamboyant blues-rocking showman. He’s equally comfortable playing the deepest, most heartfelt blues or rocking to good-time party music. “Left-hander Eddy Clearwater” is a forceful six-stringer. He lays down some gritty West Side shuffles and belly grinding slow blues that highlight his raw chops, soulful vocals, and earthy, humorous lyrics.” (Down Beat) “The Chief” is equally adept at strutting Chuck Berry Hillbilly meets R&B riffs.
“Between his slashing left-handed guitar work, his room-filling vocals, his self-defined ‘Rock-A-Blues’ style (a potent mix of blues, rock, rockabilly, country and gospel), his boundless energy and even his signature Indian headdress, Clearwater is among the very finest practitioners of the West Side blues working today. He's a fine singer who puts on a wild, exciting show... the sort of exuberant entertainer who can turn a concert into a party." --- NY TIMES
Born Edward Harrington (a cousin of late blues harpist Carey Bell) in Macon, Mississippi, Eddy moved with his family to Birmingham, Alabama at age thirteen. With music from blues to gospel to country & western surrounding him from an early age, Eddy taught himself to play guitar (left-handed and upside down), and began performing with various gospel groups, including the legendary Five Blind Boys of Alabama. After moving to Chicago in 1950, Eddy stayed with his uncle and took a job as a dishwasher, saving and stretching as much as he could from his $37 a week salary. Through his uncle's contacts, Eddy met many of Chicago's blues stars. He fell deeply under the spell of the blues, and under the wing of West Side soul star Magic Sam, who would become one of Eddy's closest friends and mentors. He met and befriended everyone from Sunnyland Slim to Earl Hooker, picking up licks and lessons along the way. As ‘Guitar Eddy’, he was making a name for himself, working the South and West Side bars regularly. And after hearing Chuck Berry in 1957, Eddy adopted that rock and roll slant to his already searing blues style, creating a unique sound that brought him a wider audience which defines him to this day. He recorded his first single, Hillbilly Blues in 1958 for his uncle's Atomic H label under the name Clear Waters. His manager at the time, drummer Jump Jackson, came up with the name as a word play on Muddy Waters. It was a regional hit and the name morphed
Into Eddy Clearwater. He worked the local circuit steadily throughout the 1950s, 1960s and into the 1970s, finding success among the North Side college crowd who responded to his individual brand of blues, his rock and roll spirit and his high energy stage show. Wearing a full Indian headdress on the cover of his first full-length (an homage to his Cherokee blood), “The Chief”, as he was now known, reached the largest audience of his career. EC went onto recording numerous albums for various labels during the 1980s and 1990s. With his fierce guitar playing, soulful and emotive vocals and wild stage shows, Eddy's star continued to grow even brighter. His 2003 CD Rock 'N' Roll City paired him up with the surf-rocking, Mexican wrestling-masked instrumentalists, Los Straitjackets. The unlikely pairing turned out to be a match made in Blue Heaven, garnering a nomination for a Grammy Award and earning Eddy a multitude of new fans. With West Side Strut, Eddy has made his self-declared, best album of his life. "Joyous rave-ups... Clearwater testifies with stunning soul fervor and powerful guitar. One of the blues' finest songwriters." (Blues Review) Between the untamed guitar work, the rough and tumble vocals and the strength of the songs, the old-school yet contemporary, “West Side Strut” articulates Eddy’s inimitable blues perspective. Clearwater loves to perform, constantly tearing it up somewhere around the world on any given night strutting his slicing guitar licks, his rock-fueled blues, rockabilly, country and gospel gumbo in his inimitable style. From straight-ahead blues and humorous rockers to plaintive, emotion-packed ballads. All are brought to life vividly by Eddy's ferocious and unflinching guitar playing, his power-packed vocals and unlimited energy. Eddy Clearwater takes his listeners on "an inspired trip to that rollicking crossroads where the blues and rock collide."