Passings: Chicago Blues Saxophonist & Band Leader Eddie Shaw (1937 - 2018)

by VVN Music

Eddie Shaw, a staple of the Chicago blues scene and a member of the Blues Hall of Fame, has died at the age of 80.

The Blues Foundation first announced his passing, saying:

The Blues Foundation mourns the passing of Eddie Shaw, who was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2014. A Chicago blues saxophonist/bandleader and multiple Blues Music Awards winner, Shaw blew his industrial-strength sax with the likes of Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, and Magic Sam. We join the rest of the blues world in sending condolences to his family. May his spirit live on through his wonderful music.

Shaw was born in Stringtown, Mississippi and began playing tenor sax with local artists like Little Milton and Willie Love at a young age.  By 14, he played in a jam session with Ike Turner and continued honing his musical craft while attending Mississippi Vocational College. Among those with which he played while still in his teens were Elmore James and Charlie Booker.

At the age of 20, Shaw was invited by Muddy Waters to join his band and he relocated to Chicago where he played with Waters and, later, Magic Slim, until joining Howlin' Wolf in 1972, not only playing sax but also acting as bandleader and composer of many of the bluesman's songs. Even after Howlin' Wolf's death in 1976, Shaw continued to lead and record with the band.

Always the entrepreneur, Shaw also owned his own blues clubs plus an air conditioning and a laundry service.

In the late-70's, Shaw started to branch out more on his own, releasing his debut solo album, Moovin' and Groovin' Man, in 1982. Among his albums were King of the Road (1986), The Blues is Nothing But Good News! (1996) and Still Riding High (2012).

Shaw was nominated twelve times in the Blues Instrumentalist (Horns) category at the Blues Music Awards between 1998 and 2014, winning in 2006, 2007, 2011, 2013 and 2014. He was also nominated in the DVD category in 2010 for Down to the Crossroads, Vol. 1 by George Thorogood & the Destroyers with Eddie Shaw.

Eddie was also elected to the Blues Hall of Fame in 2014 and appeared on the 1969 album Black Magic by the Magic Slim Blues Band which was put into the Blues Hall of Fame of Classic Blues Recordings in 1990.

EDIT: Jeff Simon of George Thorogood & the Destroyers has posted a tribute:

George and I met Eddie in 1975 when we did a four day gig opening for Howlin Wolf at The Hideaway in Granby, MA. Eddie was Wolf’s bandleader. There was one motel in the area, so that’s where everyone stayed. Since we were limited in funds, Wolf’s band members let us stay in their rooms. Those guys looked after us like we were one of their own. It was an awesome experience! After Wolf passed on, Eddie did everything he could to keep the band working. His resume is jaw-dropping. Eddie’s recollection of being a member of Muddy Waters’ band, getting fired, then being asked to join Howlin Wolf’s band (in the same day) was pretty humorous. Eddie had the IT factor. Just being around him, you understood exactly what mojo was. I enjoyed every minute that I was blessed to be with him. He is a treasure and will be missed.

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