In 1981, the Rolling Stones were on a massive North American tour, and for three cold nights in November they were to play the Rosemont Horizon in Chicago. In between shows, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts headed down to the tiny Checkerboard Lounge to see the legendary bluesman Muddy Waters.
Muddy Waters opened his set with the blues jam, “You Don t Have To Go.” By the middle of “Baby Please Don’t Go,” the Stones enter the small packed club and have a seat right in front of the stage where a table has been reserved for them.
Before they could get their drinks, Muddy calls up Jagger and then Richards to finish the song. Soon Wood and piano player Ian Stewart join in. The all-star band plays a killer extended version of “Hoochie Coochie Man.” Throughout the night, Waters calls up famous Chicago bluesmen Buddy Guy (vocals, guitar); Lefty Dizz (vocals, guitar); Junior Wells (harmonica, vocals), and more to join in on the Stones.
The crowd gets to witness history here as Waters and company bring down the house with nearly every blues song, including a rip-roaring version of “Mannish Boy,” which flows seamlessly into “Got My Mojo Working.” Even the lesser known hits, “One Eyed Woman” and “Blow Wind Blow,” has the crowd, and the Stones, on pins and needles with excitement. The show closes, appropriately, with the extended jam “Champagne & Reefer,” to an extended ovation.
Muddy Waters & The Rolling Stones ‘Live At The Checkerboard Lounge, Chicago 1981’ is one for the ages. I can’t even fathom the energy which was flowing through that small lounge on that evening in 1981. Thankfully, it’s all here for us to enjoy.