Eddy Clearwater

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Eddy Clearwater
Eddy Clearwater (blues musician).jpg
Eddy Clearwater at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, Massachusetts on April 20, 2008
Background information
Birth name Edward Harrington
Also known as Guitar Eddy, Clear Waters, The Chief
Born (1935-01-10) January 10, 1935 (age 81)
Macon, Mississippi, United States
Genres Chicago blues
Electric blues
Occupation(s) Musician, singer
Instruments Vocals, electric guitar
Years active 1953—
Associated acts Ronnie Baker Brooks, Lonnie Brooks, Muddy Waters, Carey Bell
Website eddyclearwater.com

External video
Oral History, Eddy Clearwater talks about the influence of Alan Freed in promoting blues music. Interview date December 10, 2013, NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Oral History Library

Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater is the stage name of Edward Harrington (born January 10, 1935),[1] an American Chicago blues musician. Blues Revue said Eddy plays “joyous rave-ups…he testifies with stunning soul fervor and powerful guitar. One of the blues’ finest songwriters.” [2]

Early life[edit]

He was born in Macon, Mississippi,[1] on January 10, 1935. Raised by his Cherokee grandmother in Mississippi, Harrington began playing guitar at the age of 13. His family moved to Birmingham, Alabama in 1948. He taught himself to play guitar (left-handed and upside down) and began performing with various gospel groups, including the Five Blind Boys Of Alabama. He Moved to Chicago in 1950, playing predominantly gospel and later developing his blues artistry after working with Magic Sam, Otis Rush, and others.


Clearwater is best known for being part of the Chicago blues scene since the 1950s. He performs both within the U.S. (especially around the Chicago, Illinois area, where he resides) and internationally, such as at blues festivals in France, Germany, Denmark, Poland and the Netherlands. His sound has been described as “hard-driving Windy City blues, soul-tinged balladry, acoustic country blues and gospel uplift….good natured fretboard fireworks.” [3]

When he left the South for Chicago in 1950, he worked as a dishwasher while living with an uncle. Through his uncle he met many of Chicago’s blues masters, including fellow left-handed guitarist Otis Rush and Magic Sam. Once he heard the music of Chuck Berry, he began performing some of Berry’s material as well as writing in a Berry-influenced style. He still regularly performs songs by Rush, Magic Sam and Berry as well as his own original material.[4] In 1953, now known as Guitar Eddy, he began working regularly in Chicago’s south and west side bars. His first single, the Chuck Berry-styled “Hill Billy Blues”, was recorded in 1958 for his uncle’s Atomic H label, under the moniker Clear Waters, a name given to him by his manager, drummer Jump Jackson, as wordplay on the more famous Muddy Waters.

He recorded a few more singles and began receiving local radio airplay. Eventually the name Clear Waters morphed into Eddy Clearwater.[5] He worked steadily throughout the 1960s and 1970s, and he was among the first blues musicians to find success with Chicago’s north side college crowd. He was a regular Saturday act on the Kingston Mine's north stage while bluesman Linsey Alexander played on the south stage.[6] He toured Europe twice during the 1970s and appeared on BBC Television. Clearwater has been nicknamed The Chief and sometimes wears Native American headdress.[4]

The release of his 1980 album The Chief under the Rooster Blues label made him known on the Chicago blues scene. Two encores for Rooster Blues, Help Yourself (1992) and Mean Case of the Blues (1996), cemented Clearwater's reputation.Cool Blues Walk followed in 1998, followed by Chicago Daily Blues the next year, with Reservation Blues released in mid 2000. [7] In 2004, he was nominated for a Grammy Award with Los Straitjackets for their collaboration, Rock 'N' Roll City.

Vintage Guitar described his 2008 Alligator Records album, West Side Strut as “great blues. Eddy’s fat, voluptuous tone shows a masterful command of the guitar. It’s hard to believe he can reach such heights in a recording studio. One listen and you’ll wonder why Clearwater’s name isn’t respectfully spoken in the same breath as Freddie King and Otis Rush.”[8]

Personal life[edit]

Eddy Clearwater in 1978

Clearwater is married to his manager, Renee Greenman. Together they once owned 'Reservation Blues', a Wicker Park (Chicago) blues bar and restaurant. It is no longer in operation.

He is the father of two children, Jason and Edgar Harrington (son Angelo Edward Harrington). He has three stepchildren,as well as three grandchildren

He was also married to Earlean Harrington of Chicago, IL and was stepfather to her late son Daryl Thompson.

He is a cousin of blues harmonica player Carey Bell.[4]

On 8 January 1997, Clearwater underwent successful triple heart bypass surgery.[9]


  • 2014 "Soul Funky" (Cleartone) (featuring guests Ronnie Baker Brooks and Billy Branch)
  • 2008 West Side Strut (on Alligator Records)
  • 2003 Rock ‘N’ Roll City (featuring Los Straitjackets)
  • 2000 Reservation Blues
  • 1999 Chicago Daily Blues
  • 1998 Cool Blues Walk
  • 1998 Chicago Blues Session, Vol. 23 (live)
  • 1996 Mean Case Of The Blues
  • 1995 Boogie My Blues Away
  • 1992 Live At The Kingston Mines, 1978 (live)
  • 1992 Help Yourself
  • 1990 Real Good Time: Live! (live)
  • 1989 Blues Hang Out
  • 1986 Flimdoozie
  • 1981 Two Times Nine
  • 1980 The Chief
  • 1979 Black Night

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Eddy Clearwater's profile on his official website
  2. ^ Blues Revue, July 2004
  3. ^ Cristiano, Nick. Philadelphia Inquirer, 13 April 2008.
  4. ^ a b c Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. p. 102. ISBN 1-85868-255-X. 
  5. ^ Blues Lyrics website. accessed February 2008.
  6. ^ "Eddy Clearwater and Linsey Alexander @ Kingston Mines". Wassup! Chicago: Local Magazine. Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  7. ^ Allmusic biography. accessed February 2008.
  8. ^ Vintage Guitar, July 2008.
  9. ^ Blues on Stage page on Eddy Clearwater. accessed February 2008.

External links[edit]