The blues idiom, like jazz, has been built not only on the musical strengths and charisma of its great icons, stars, and band leaders but also from a slew of great sidemen who helped their leaders develop and present their great works to listeners the world over. This morning the blues world lost one of its great sidemen when bassist Calvin “Fuzz” Jones passed away at age 84 in Southaven, Mississippi.
Jones is probably best known for the years he spent touring as part of Muddy Waters’ band in the ’70s and ’80s, a group that included Bob Margolin, Pinetop Perkins, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, James Cotton, among other great players. Jones also played with Elmore James, Howlin’ Wolf, and Little Walter.
Margolin has since gone on to make many great solo records and is part of the VizzTone label. He also is a regular contributor to blues publications. Last week, he rejoined some of his former bandmates in the Waters’ blues band at a blues festival. He also had the opportunity to visit with Jones one last time last week.
“I’m glad to have seen him one more time,” said Margolin, “but he didn’t know I was there. I think he was beyond medical recovery, and that his illness overtook his strength. He was 84 years old, and was enjoying his life as much as possible until very recently. He had a sincere good word for everyone, and his reaction to any kind of health, musical, or financial challenge was his hearty trademark laugh.”
His family in Mississippi, where he relocated to spend his later years after decades spent in Chicago, is making funeral arrangements for Jones.