Waters was born McKinley Morganfield in Issaquena County, Mississippi in 1913 (He later told people that he was born in 1915 in Rolling Fork, Mississippi; the reason for this remains unknown). His grandmother Della Grant raised him after his mother died in 1918. His fondness for playing in mud earned him his nickname at an early age. Waters started out on harmonica but by age seventeen he was playing the guitar at parties and fish fries, emulating two blues artists who were extremely popular in the south, Son House and Robert Johnson. His thick heavy tone, the dark coloration of his voice and his firm almost stolid manner were all clearly derived from House, wrote Peter Guralnick in Feel Like Going Home, but the embellishments which he added, the imaginative slide technique and more agile rhythms, were closer to Johnson.
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