Joseph “Mojo” Morganfield
On Thursday, December 10th, Joseph “Joe” Morganfield passed away suddenly, unexpectedly leaving the Blues World in shock and his family and friends devastated. Joseph Morganfield was deeply and profoundly loved.
Joseph was born on April 14, 1964 in Chicago, Illinois. He spent his early years in Chicago with his mother, Lucille McClenton and his siblings Derrik, Dyayne, Renee, and Roslind. Joe’s family lived in some of the roughest areas of the city, often under some of the harshest conditions. Joe described this time of his life as the “chaotic years.” His difficult childhood would later be described in a book he was writing about his life.
When he was nine, he and his sisters, Renee and Roslind, went to live with their father, McKinley Morganfield aka Muddy Waters. Their new life with their famous father eventually took them out to Westmont, Illinois. It was there that Joseph truly began to blossom. For the first time in his young life he had stability, he had enough to eat, he had his own room, he had a large swimming pool, a host of neighborhood friends, he loved school, and he excelled in athletics.
His father wanted him to learn to play the guitar but all Joseph wanted to do was play ball. Basketball! Everywhere he went he carried that ball. And it was his excellence on the courts that made him a basketball “legend” at Westmont High School. Newspapers started writing articles about Joe’s prowess on the courts. In typical Morganfield fashion, he would razz Muddy about who’s going to get the most ink in their lifetimes. And Muddy would tell everyone who would listen how proud he was of his athletically-gifted son. Joseph earned a full scholarship to the University of Northern Iowa. Joseph was eighteen years old when his “larger than life” father passed away. Once again the rug of stability was pulled out from under him. He’d had some of the happiest times in his life with his father and his family, living in the town of Westmont, surrounded by all of his friends. And now the anchor in his life was gone. Joe’s response to the tough times in his life was, “I’ve been through some tough sh**t but it builds character.” He was always the optimist, always the guy who would get knocked down, brush himself off, get back up, and try again.
The next years of Joseph’s life were the character building years. He struggled to find his niche. He married. He had children. He worked at various jobs. He made friends from all walks of life. He joined the church. He lived and loved and worked and struggled. Yet he was always charming, always resilient, always loved. And right before his 50th birthday he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and make music. He had always wanted to be a musician and finally had the opportunity to give all of his attention to his music. He brought the same perseverance he’d demonstrated on the basketball court to the recording studio. He put in the work. He took a deep dive into the blues and became the Blues Ambassador for his father’s estate. He worked with Deitra Farr to hone his vocals, and Joseph Morganfield became Joseph “Mojo” Morganfield and leader of his band, the Mannish Boyz.
He worked with songwriter Terry Abrahamson and collaborated with a variety of musicians. He worked with Grammy-award-winning producer, Michael Freeman to produce his first single It’s Good to Be King. His first single made it to Number One on the blues charts the same week he passed. Michael and Joseph were working on Joe’s first album at the time of his death.
Joe recently remarried and he and his wife Deborah were building their new life together. They enjoyed “triple decker” peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, extreme boat rides, reading together, and being a part of the Chicago music scene. People would comment that Joseph was the happiest they’d ever seen him.
Joseph was not only a Blues Ambassador, he was also an ambassador for the city of Westmont, Illinois. He’d never lived far from the town where he grew up. He always had a special place in his heart for Westmont and the city of Westmont loved him right back. He and Deborah were married at City Hall in Westmont. The Mayor of Westmont officiated the ceremony. That Joseph had a big heart and was loved by so many is evident in the outpouring of love and grief at his untimely death. His sister Mercy commented, “He died while he was living his best life.” And that, by any standard, is indeed a life well lived.
He is preceded in death by his father, McKinley Morganfield, his mother Lucille McClenton, his sister Renee Morganfield, and his brother Derrick Dease. Joseph is survived by his wife, Deborah Morganfield, his children Joshua, Matthews, Gabrielle, Jordan, Jade, Julissa, Bella, Analiese, and Amelia; his brothers Larry and William; his sisters Mercy and Roslind; his stepmother Marva Morganfield; his grandson Joshuan; nieces; nephews; a great-niece; and many friends and fans. Visitation Wednesday December 16, 2020 from 4-8 P.M. at Cappetta’s West Suburban Funeral Home & Cremation Services 39 N. Cass Ave., Westmont.
Funeral Services and Interment will be held privately on Thursday December 17, however, the services will be live streamed at 10 A.M. on Joseph’s website at www.Josephmojomorganfield.com. Info 630-852-8000 or www.westsuburbanfh.com
- Wednesday, December 16, 2020
- 04:00 PM
- Cappetta's West Suburban Funeral Home & Cremation Services 39 North Cass Avenue Westmont, Illinois 60559
Join the discussion 10 Comments
I knew Joe growing up in the same neighborhood in Westmont, going to the same schools in Westmont. He loved basketball but he seemed the happiest performing. It was fantastic to see him not only perform but to talk with him. His memory will always be in our hearts. Now fly with the angels my friend. Until we meet again
My condolences to the Morganfield family and friends. I knew Joe since High School. He was a caring and giving man and will be missed by all of us. RIP my beautiful friend.
You really helped me realize my potential and I won’t ever forget you for that, you’re so many things to so many people, I’m forever grateful for the friendship.
Rest in peace my friend/brother/teammate! I will see you on God’s great basketball court in heaven someday…
You were great fun and always had a twinkle in your eye. May your wife and family be consoled by these memories.
Julie Brooks Spahn
As the Principal at Westmont’s elementary South School, I remember joe as an exceptionally happy, smiling school friend to everyone. He told me he just loved school and his attendance was almost perfect, unless….When his Dad Muddy came home after being on the road for some time and/or Eric Clapton was at the house, and Joe was in school, Joe would sometimes develop a sudden toothache or headache requiring his going home. After calling home and having his Dad pick him up every time, both Muddy and I knew There was only one person who could cure his ailment: his Dad! All of Westmont loved Joe, an act I frequently witnessed when everyone cheered him on at Westmont High School basketball games!
You left a piece of your heart in Westmont, Joe, and took a piece of our heart to Heaven with you!.
Joe I thank the Most High that our paths crossed 🤞. Love ❤️ you Man.
Morgy/Mojo…I’ve known you since the 5th grade and we have remained friends for all these years. We were on great basketball teams from 6th grade to Senior in High School, at the community center and in summer leagues. When I saw that you were going to chase the Blues like your pops, I was so excited. You were going to be amazing and do great things, and already had proven yourself in a tough industry. I will miss our chats and talks, our text discussions on a new song or advice on a contract. I miss you Joe and you are gone way to soon. We will all make sure that Deborah always has an ear if she needs anything. No one will replace your smile, your laugh and your kindness old friend. I’ll be seeing you Brother…Let’s Play Chess!!! Ozzie
Was Joe’s college roommate at UNI during his sophomore year, my freshman year. Man, to say we had fun was an understatement! We eventually lost contact in 1992. Then the other day thought I would see what Joe was up to these days and ran across his obituary, that’s so messed up. Take care brother!!
I miss you my friend. I know in my heart you are now flying high spiritually. You sure were an angel, here on the planet earth. Your authenticity and kindness are both something I will carry with me into the next lifetime.