James Cotton, 81, known as one of the best blues harmonica players of all time, died of pneumonia in an Austin, Texas, hospital March 16.  


Photo: Mary Andrews / ConcertLivewire.com

James Cotton - Fox Tucson Theatre, Tucson, Ariz.

Cotton was mentored by Sonny Boy Williamson II, toured with Howlin’ Wolf and recorded sessions at Sun Records before the age of 20, setting off on more than a decade of touring with Muddy Waters including performing during the seminal live album At Newport 1960.

Cotton formed The James Cotton Band in 1966 and collaborated with the likes of Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin and The Grateful Dead.

He recorded 30 solo albums, won one Grammy, six Living Blues Awards and 10 Blues Music Awards. He was inducted into the blues Hall of Fame in 2006 and was the recipient of an all-star tribute at Lincoln Center in 2010.