A statement from Alligator Records, Cotton's label, says he died Thursday (March 16) of pneumonia at St. David's Medical Center in Austin.
Cotton, known as “Mr. Superharp,” was born on a cotton plantation in Tunica, Mississippi on July 1, 1935. He performed professionally since age 9 and went on to share stages with Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, B.B. King, Santana, Steve Miller, Freddie King and many others. Cotton backed Muddy Waters in his landmark album At Newport on Chess Records. He would work with Waters many times through the years.