We’re dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault to bring you the extraordinary moment two icons of rock and roll met on stage as The Rolling Stones and Muddy Waters perform ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’ together back in 1981. It’s a performance that not only sees the Stones on top form but singing alongside their hero Muddy Waters.
Without The Rolling Stones, the rock and roll world would be a lot duller today, if it even existed. That’s not just because one would be denied the spectacle of a ‘Stones show but their influence across the music world is unquestionable. Well, without Muddy Waters, the mercurial bluesman, there would be no Rolling Stones at all.
If you’re looking for connections then right out of the gate, the band took their name from a Muddy Waters song ‘Rollin’ Stone’ when Brian Jones was booking a show for the band and was asked for the group’s name. he looked down, saw the record, and the rest is history. Secondly, his style of rhythm and blues-influenced Keith Richards and Mick Jagger so intently they spent much of their formative years trying to replicate the man himself, it would turn them into superstars.
Finally, and perhaps most pertinently, the grace and dignity with which Waters’ grew into his role as the Grandaddy of rock and roll may well have paved the way for The Rolling Stones own measured maturation.
To confirm the band’s undying love for Waters, here’s a snippet from Keith Richards’ autobiography Life detailing travelling around the Delta Blues hotspots of America shortly after they arrived in the US: “I think some of us had died and gone to heaven, because a year before we were plugging London clubs, and we’re doing all right, but actually in the next year, we’re somewhere we thought we would never be.”
So when the opportunity arose for The Rolling Stones to finally be able to jam out with their iconic hero they jumped at the chance. In 198,1 during a tour of America, The Stones found themselves in the home of the blues and only had one man on their mind to catch up with — Muddy Waters.
The guitarist, Keith Richards explains how the band found themselves in the Chicago, rubbing shoulders with one of the greats “You want to be a blues player, the next minute you fucking well are and you’re stuck right amongst them, and there’s Muddy Waters standing next to you. It happens so fast you really can’t register all of the impressions that are coming at you… It’s one thing to play a Muddy Waters song. It’s another thing to play with him.”
The meeting was compressed into a concert video and live album for Waters who titled the project simply, Live at the Checkerboard Lounge, Chicago 1981 and is a joyous watch. The Stones joined Waters for a particularly lively rendition of the traditional blues number ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’.
Recently shared by The Rolling Stones YouTube channel it clearly still resonates with the band. After all, it would be hard to have The Rolling Stones without The Rollin’ Stone.
Watch below as The Rolling Stones got to jam with their hero, Muddy Waters back in 1981.