James Cotton, a blues harmonica star, has died at age 81. The Grammy Award-winning musician's full-throated sound backed such blues legends as Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson II and Howlin' Wolf.
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.
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