Blues Harmonica Star James Cotton Dead At 81

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AUSTIN (AP) — James Cotton, a Grammy Award-winning blues harmonica master whose full-throated sound backed such blues legends as Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson II and Howlin’ Wolf, has died at age 81.

A statement from Alligator Records, Cotton’s label, says he died Thursday of pneumonia at St. David’s Medical Center in Austin.

The Mississippi Delta native performed professionally since age 9. Cotton backed Muddy Waters in his landmark album “At Newport” on Chess Records.

After going solo in the 1960s, Cotton released almost 30 albums, including his 1996 Grammy Award-winning Verve album, “Deep In The Blues.” His most recent album, “Cotton Mouth Man” for Alligator Records in 2013, was nominated for a Grammy.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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