was born January 31, 1944 in Kosciusko
, Mississippi. He is an American blues-harp player and bandleader, one of the non-African-American bluesmen who came to prominence in the early 1960s, along with Mike Bloomfield
and Paul Butterfield
He has said that he is of Choctaw descent, and he was born in a region originally inhabited by the Choctaw. However, in a 2005 interview, he said his mother had told him he was actually Cherokee.
At the age of three, Musselwhite moved to Memphis, Tennessee. When he was a teenager, Memphis experienced the period when rockabilly, western swing, electric blues, and some forms of African American music were combining to give birth to rock and roll. The period featured legendary figures such as Elvis Presley
, Jerry Lee Lewis
, and Johnny Cash
. This environment was Musselwhite's school for music as well as life, and he acquired the nickname "Memphis Charlie".
In true bluesman fashion, Musselwhite then took off in search of the rumored "big-paying factory jobs"
up the "Hillbilly Highway",
legendary Highway 51 to Chicago, where he continued his education on the South Side, making the acquaintance of even more legends including Muddy Waters
, Junior Wells
, Sonny Boy Williamson
, Buddy Guy
, Howlin' Wolf
, Little Walter
, and Big Walter Horton
. In time, Musselwhite led his own blues band, and has released over 20 albums.
Musselwhite believes the key to his musical success was finding a style where he could express himself. He has said, "I only know one tune, and I play it faster or slower, or I change the key, but it’s just the one tune I’ve ever played in my life. It’s all I know." MP3: Hey Miss Bessie