Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater is the stage name of Edward Harrington (born January 10, 1935), 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."
He was born in Macon, Mississippi, on January 10, 1935. His family moved to Birmingham, Alabama in 1948. He taught himself to play guitar at an early age (left-handed and upside down) and began performing with various gospel groups, including the Five Blind Boys Of Alabama.
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."
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. 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. 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. He toured Europe twice during the 1970s and appeared on BBC Television. Clearwater has been nicknamed The Chief and sometimes wears Native American headdress.
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. 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."
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. He has three stepchildren,as well as two grandchildren
He is a cousin of blues harmonica player Carey Bell.
On 8 January 1997, Clearwater underwent successful triple heart bypass surgery.
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