HONORING THE LIFE OF JAMES COTTON; Congressional Record Vol. 163, No. 49
(Extensions of Remarks - March 21, 2017)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E357-E358]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                            HON. STEVE COHEN

                              of tennessee

                    in the house of representatives

                        Tuesday, March 21, 2017

  Mr. COHEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor and commemorate the 
remarkable life of James Cotton who passed away on March 16, 2017, at 
the age of 81. Mr. Cotton was a pioneering harmonica player who helped 
establish his instrument as an integral part of modern blues.
   James Henry Cotton was born on July 1, 1935 in Tunica, MS, the 
youngest of eight brothers and sisters. His parents, Hattie and Mose 
were sharecroppers who worked on a cotton plantation and his father was 
also the preacher at the local Baptist church. Mr. Cotton was inspired 
to take up the harmonica by his mother and by the time he was 7 years 
old, he was performing for small change on the streets of nearby towns 
in the Mississippi Delta. At age 9, he moved in with Sonny Boy 
Williamson II to learn the instrument and Sonny Boy remained his hero 
for the rest of his life.
   Around 1950, Mr. Cotton moved to West Memphis with Sonny Boy, which 
is where Howlin' Wolf heard him. Mr. Cotton played with Howlin' Wolf 
appearing in some of the recordings he made with Sam Phillips at Sun 
Records, in Memphis, in the early 1950s. In 1954, he also made four 
recordings under his own name for Sun. Mr. Cotton also played with 
Muddy Waters in Chicago where he contributed to classics like ``Got my 
Mojo Working'' and ``Rock Me.'' In 1966, Mr. Cotton embarked on a solo 
career when he formed the

[[Page E358]]

James Cotton Blues Band which performed with popular acts like Janis 
Joplin, the Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, B.B. King, Santana, and many 
others. In 1977, Mr. Cotton reunited with Muddy Waters for the album 
``Hard Again,'' which won a Grammy Award for best ethnic or traditional 
   His work influenced several major blues-rock groups of the era such 
as the Allman Brothers, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and the 
Electric Flag. He was much imitated but never duplicated. Mr. Cotton 
continued to play in concerts and on records well into his 70s and 
released some two dozen albums. Mr. Cotton moved from Chicago to 
Memphis in the 1990s, after the death of his first wife, Ceola and he 
settled in Austin in 2010. In 1997, his album ``Deep in the Blues'' won 
a Grammy for best traditional blues album and his 2013 album ``Cotton 
Mouth Man'' was nominated. Mr. Cotton also won several W.C. Handy 
International Blues Awards (known as the Blues Music Awards since 2006) 
long considered among the highest accolades for musicians working in 
Blues. Mr. Cotton was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2006.
   Mr. Cotton is survived by his wife and manager, Jacklyn Hairston 
Cotton; his two daughters, Teresa Hampton and Marshall Ann Cotton; a 
son, James Patrick Cotton; and numerous grandchildren and great 
grandchildren. His was a life well lived.