Blues saxophonist extraordinaire Eddie Shaw was born on a Stringtown plantation in 1937. He learned music at school in Greenville and performed in various local bands before moving to Chicago to join the Muddy Waters band. Shaw served as bandleader for Howlin’ Wolf for several years and launched his own busy touring career after Wolf’s death in 1976. His hard-hitting horn work won him Instrumentalist of the Year honors in the 2006 and 2007 Blues Music Awards. Eddie Shaw earned international acclaim as one of the few saxophonists to ever build an enduring career leading a blues band.
Shaw more or less divided the tenor saxophone duties with A.C. Reed. In 1972 he joined Howlin’ Wolf, leading his band, the Wolf Gang, and writing half the songs on The Back Door Wolf (1973). After the singer’s death in 1976 he took over the band and its residency at the 1815 Club; renamed Eddie’s Place. Shaw led the gang on Living Chicago Blues Vol. 1 and Have Blues – Will Travel (1980), and recorded albums in different company for Isabel Records, Rooster Blues, and Wolf Records.
By the late 1970s, Shaw’s own recording career started, with an appearance on Alligator Records’ Living Chicago Blues anthologies (1978), his own LPs for Evidence and Rooster Blues, and more recent discs for Rooster Blues (In the Land of the Crossroads) and Wolf (Home Alone).
Shaw’s many contributions to the blues include arranging tracks for the London Howlin’ Wolf Sessions (which featured Eric Clapton, Bill Wyman, Ringo Starr and others) and performing with a list of blues notables that included Hound Dog Taylor, Freddie King, Otis Rush and Magic Sam (on his Black Magic album).