Chicago bluesman Eddy Clearwater dies of heart failure at 83

CHICAGO, IL – NOVEMBER 27: Todd Park Mohr of Big Head Todd & the Monsters (L), Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater (C) and Ronnie Baker Brooks perform for blues artist Buddy Guy at a 2012 Kennedy Center Honors Send Off Celebration held in Guy’s honor at the Pritzker Pavilion stage on November 27, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Scott Olson/Getty Images

CHICAGO — Chicago bluesman Eddy Clearwater, lauded for his guitar playing and flamboyant showmanship, has died of heart failure.

Alligator Records announced Clearwater, 83, died Friday in Skokie, Illinois.

Known as “The Chief,” Clearwater was born Edward Harrington in Macon, Mississippi. A self-taught guitarist, he began his career in Birmingham, performing with gospel music groups, including the Five Blind Boys of Alabama. After moving to Chicago in 1950, Clearwater drifted into the blues, making a name for himself as Guitar Eddy.

According to Alligator Records, after Clearwater added a rock and roll element to his guitar playing, his then manager came up with the name Clear Waters as a play on blues legend Muddy Waters. The name eventually evolved into Eddy Clearwater.

His 2003 album, “Rock ‘N’ Roll City,” was nominated for a Grammy Award as best traditional blues album.

Clearwater is survived by his wife, Renee, and six children.