Live At The Checkerboard Lounge
Chicago 1981

Muddy Waters & The Rolling Stones

When Muddy Waters recorded "Rollin' Stone" in 1948, he could never have imagined that those two words - "Rollin' Stone" - would become the moniker of the greatest rock & roll band in the world, let alone a music magazine and Bob Dylan song. Of course, the Rolling Stones borrowed more than just the name of a song from Waters; their whole career was built on the blues that Waters, Willie Dixon and many of the other forefathers of rock n' roll created. In 1981, in the midst of another monster tour, the Stones paid homage to Waters with an impromptu jam in a small Chicago club. Best of all, cameras were there to capture the moment. It only took 30 years to release it as a DVD/CD package called Live At The Checkerboard Lounge Chicago 1981.

As the 50th anniversary of the Rolling Stones slowly shifts into gear, it's likely more treasures like this are going to surface. Mere seconds of this footage have appeared in other Rolling Stones documentaries, but to see over an hour and a half is a treat for Stones and blues fans alike. After a couple of warm-up numbers from his band, Muddy Waters comes out, a red Telecaster around his neck, takes his place on a stool and tells the audience: "We're gonna play some blues for you now." The man, then a sprite 68, proceeds to rip through "You Don't Have To Go" and "Country Boy." It's during the third song, "Baby, Please Don't Go," that Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood, Ian Stewart and their entourage enter the club and fill up the benches in the front to the delight of the audience and Waters himself. Jackets are removed, drinks are poured and the party is underway.

Waters keeps the song going and calls Jagger repeatedly to the stage. The singer finally makes his way up to join Waters, then after a few bars, the bluesman asks: "What about Keith?" "Yeah, what about Keith?" Jagger adds. And without being asked a third time, the guitarist climbs up over the table, is handed a guitar and takes a lead. Ron Wood follows and the baton is officially handed off. Neither Charlie Watts or Bill Wyman maker an appearance. "Hoochie Coochie Man" and "Mannish Boy," where Jagger and Waters exchange vocal jabs, scorch the embers of what blossoms into a full-on blues summit when the likes of Buddy Guy (who owned the Checkerboard Lounge), Junior Wells and Lefty Dizz join in. Performers come and go at that point, but the show presumably winds down after Jagger takes his leave and the band plays over the closing credits. What more could you ask for? The Rolling Stones and Muddy Waters together and Live At The Checkerboard Lounge Chicago 1981. We can hardly wait to see what else the Stones have in the vaults.

~ Shawn Perry

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