Why Mud's never felt more like singing the blues
The powerful blues voice, the effortless groove and the strong, warm facial features are uncannily familiar; some say watching Larry "Mud" Morganfield sing and perform is like witnessing a ghost in action.
In truth it's more about nature taking its course, Mud might have spent 50 years driving trucks for a living but in the end nothing could suppress the inborn blues talent he inherited from his father – legendary Chicago bluesman Muddy Waters, who died in 1983.
He was a late starter, but Mud's music career is certainly blossoming now that he's 58 – "although I like to pass myself off as 18," he laughs.
"It's taken my whole life to realise all the blues I do have and I'm going to keep on singing."
You may have caught his great set with his band on Later Live with Jools Holland on BBC Two on Tuesday evening – with Jools joining in on organ – and there will be more on tonight's extended version of the programme. But there's also a rare chance to see Mud and company live in the flesh in the Westcountry for one night only next week as part of a short UK tour. He will be on stage next Friday at the Palladium Club, a little gem of a venue tucked away in the centre of Bideford in North Devon, airing songs from his new album Son of the Seventh Son – a strong collection of mostly self-penned tunes which has received rave reviews – as well as a mix-up of his father's best loved tunes.
"I do feel overwhelmed," admits the father of ten, who is billed as Muddy's eldest son – although he'd be reluctant to swear to that.
"Pops was a hoochie coochie man; he was always on the move, loving pretty women and singing the blues. I always think some old man might turn up on the doorstep in a wheelchair one day and say he's the eldest! I wouldn't like to guess how many siblings I've got on my dad's side."
Mud was born in 1954, when his "Pops" was king of the Chicago blues scene and preparing to share his talent and passion with the world. He was brought up on the city's West Side by his mother Mildred McGhee; Muddy's practical involvement in his life was restricted to flying visits – and the gift of a set of drums each year from when he was seven years old.
"I don't have any complaints; I never went without anything. I didn't get the emotional stuff I needed, but I had eight uncles and they took up the slack," says Mud. "I was angry with Pops for a few years, but as I got older I realised he was just following his dreams. I do wish I got to spend more time with him, but I am elated that he left his style in my genes.
"Blues is pretty much in my bones. I've been singing around the house and in the shower for ever. It was always a dream to get up and do it professionally, but it never worked out for me before. I'm making a bit of a splash now."
Mud began singing in public in the early 1980s but it was not until 2005, after being coaxed onto the stage by blues singer Mary Lane, that he decided to look seriously at music as his professional calling.
He says he has never studied his father's music or performance.
"I'm not Muddy Waters and I'm certainly not trying to be Muddy Waters. I'm Mud Morganfield, but when I'm up on stage I always feel Pops is there with me and it means so much that I can get on stage and keep his music alive around the world," adds Mud, who has shared stages and gained the respect of many of his father's ex-sidemen and Chicago blues superstars, including Buddy Guy, Kenny "Big Eyes" Smith, Eddie "The Chief" Clearwater, Pinetop Perkins, Jimmie Johnson and Mojo Buford, to name but a few.
"I have never tried to copy him; what you see comes straight from my heart," he says. "I don't know how can you sing the blues if you never had the blues? That doesn't make sense to me. Just because you are the kid of someone famous it doesn't mean you have a golden spoon in your mouth all your life."
Mud Morganfield plays at the Palladium Club, Bideford on Friday, November 30. For advance tickets, priced £14, call the club on 01237 478860, or visit www.ticketweb.co.uk.