Waters was first recorded on a Mississippi Delta plantation by Alan Lomax for a series of field recordings for the Library of Congress in 1940. He later moved to Chicago where he switched from acoustic to electric guitar and added a rhythm section and harmonica to form the classic Chicago blues lineup. His bands played on the west side of Chicago before he joined Chess Records as part of its soon-to-be stellar group of blues players.
His influence has been enormous across many music genres, blues, rhythm and blues, rock, folk, jazz, and country. Waters helped Chuck Berry get his first record contract.
His tours of England in the early 60s marked possibly the first time an amplified, hard-rocking band was ever heard there. One critic retreated to the restroom to write his review because he found the band so loud. The Rolling Stones named themselves after Muddy Waters 1950 song Rollin Stone aka Catfish Blues. Led Zeppelin's biggest hit, Whole Lotta Love, was based upon the Muddy Waters song You Need Love.
Other songs for which he is known include "I Just Want to make Love to You," "Long Distance Call," "Mannish Boy," and the rock/blues anthem "I Got My Mojo Working."
Muddy Waters died at the age of 68 and is interred in the Restvale Cemetery, Alsip, Illinois, near Chicago.