Hoochie Coochie Man
Music/Lyrics: Willie Dixon
Vocals: Sugar Blue
Original Artist: Muddy Waters
Original Album: Single (1954)
Historian: Ellis Godard
Although he is sometimes credited as the original artist, harmonica wizard Willie Dixon does not always receive credit for having written “Hoochie Coochie Man.” Interestingly, though, he was present for the studio recording by fellow Chess artist Muddy Waters, who was the original artist. Waters’ second recording was released as a single, but each eventually found their way to albums – the first on a “rhythm and blues” compilation released in 1977, the second on a Muddy Waters boxed set released in 1989. Dixon later released several versions of his own, emphasizing the harmonica, which Waters had placed second to the guitar. Although it's been covered by many others, perhaps the best-known version is by Eric Clapton, on his (1994) From the Cradle, where Jerry Portnoy’s harp gets nearly as much time as Clapton’s guitar.
Despite its few studio appearances, the song is part of the blues canon, having been performed on stage by almost any blues artist that comes to mind, from Dixon and Waters to the Allman Brothers and Jimi Hendrix. And the title phrase has been alluded to in song titles from Etta James’ “Hoochie Coochie Gal” to Edgar Winter’s “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo” and, more recently, perhaps a dozen dance and hip hop releases. Phish stuck with the original spirit and showed their mojo twice (4/10/93 and 8/8/97), both in Chicago with James “Sugar Blue” Whiting on lead vocals and harmonica.
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