CHICAGO (CBS) — Grammy-nominated Chicago blues legend Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater, the gifted guitarist who wowed crowds with a flamboyant style he called “rock-a-blues” has died.
Clearwater’s publicist Lynn Orman Weiss confirmed he died of heart failure Friday morning at Skokie Hospital. He was 83.
He was born Edward Harrington in Macon, Mississippi and came to Chicago in 1950 as the electric blues scene was burgeoning.
By 1953, “Guitar Eddy” as he was known, made a name for himself playing clubs on the city’s South and West Side. He played with notable stars including Magic Sam, Otis Rush and Freddie King.
Along with his signature electrifying guitar style, Clearwater (whose name is a play on Muddy Waters’ moniker) was known for wearing bright, colorful Native American headdresses. He was once given a headdress by a fan. In an interview, Clearwater said his grandmother was “almost” full blooded Cherokee.
Clearwater was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2016. His last recording “Soul Funky” was released in 2014.
“Chicago lost one of our legendary blues musicians, innovators and ambassadors to the world,”said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a statement.
“Clearwater leaves behind a legacy that includes 17 albums, countless shows and a lifetime of songs that gave a voice to the soul of the city he loved. Our thoughts are with Eddy’s family and friends during this difficult time.”
He was set to play at Buddy Guy’s Legends club for crowds in town for next weekend’s Chicago Blues Festival as well as the Taste of Lincoln Avenue Festival in July.
Clearwater’s funeral is set for this Tuesday in Skokie where he lived for more than 20 years.
Tributes during next weekend’s Chicago Blues Festival are already being planned.