It was a cold snowy night in Atlanta, Georgia when I finally got a chance to see my dad perform. I was living in Tuskegee, Alabama and was working on my second degree at Auburn University...the year was 1980. Strangely, I made the 2 hour drive from Tuskegee, Alabama with one of my classmates, Reggie, who tagged along to help me with the drive and to also meet my famous father. I say strangely because I was not very good at driving on icy roads but I needed very badly to speak face to face with my father. I wasn’t really interested in seeing his show. Instead, I was more concerned with seeing him and updating him on what was happening with me...his young son!
We arrived in Atlanta about 3 hours before show-time and went straight to the Agora Ballroom where pop was scheduled to perform. Now it’s important for you to know that no one knew that I was coming to that show. I mean no one! I had planned on surprising him; however, I couldn’t completely surprise him because the security was quite tight. Nobody got backstage without approval. At any rate, several security folks questioned me and then left to find my dad to tell him that his son was outside waiting. After about 4 or 5 minutes they returned and asked Reggie and I to follow. They took us backstage where my father was sitting drinking champagne. He jumped up and came and gave me a big hug! You see, he had not seen me since I was 13.We talked one on one for a while. I don’t recall how long we talked but the time really flew by fast! I can’t put in words how elated I was to see my dad and he seemed pretty happy to see me too!
I still remember him saying over and over, “William you look just like your brother Joe.” Then of course, he introduced me to some of the guys in the band saying, “this is my son.” I remember meeting Pinetop Perkins, Willie Smith, Bob Margolin, and Guitar Junior all for the first time! After a few more minutes a fellow comes and says, “Muddy, it’s time. My dad gave me another hug and told one of the security guards to take me out front and to take good care of me.
I left dad’s side and went out to watch him play. The room was buzzing in anticipation of pop taking the stage. As soon as the crowd saw Muddy they started going wild. He had not played one note...just walking in...wow, what a powerful presence. My dad and his band delivered a show that I will never forget. I wasn’t a Blues fan and didn’t really care much for blues music. But, what I saw and heard that night planted a seed in my soul. I was very young and could not fully understand why that show touched me the way it did. Sure, I had heard lots of pops records. But, when I heard it live it was so much more powerful than what I had heard on his records. The thing that struck me hardest was the reaction of the fans. Seriously, it was like those folks had the Holy Ghost or something close to it inside of them. To see my dad in his element was indeed a very special moment for me.
I will never forget that night. After the show dad and I talked for just a little bit longer. He gave me another big hug and told me to call him in a day or so after he returned to his home in Chicago. We talked a lot by phone after that night, but I had no idea that it would be the last time I saw him alive. I did see him again, but he had passed on from this life. Like all the rest of my brothers and sisters, we miss our father Muddy Waters.
WRITTEN BY WILLIAM MORGANFIELD