James Cotton (born July 1, 1935, Tunica, Mississippi), is an American blues harmonica player, singer, and songwriter who is the bandleader for the James Cotton Blues Band. He also writes songs alone, and his solo career continues to this day. His work includes the following genres: blues, delta blues, harmonica blues, and electric harmonica blues.
Cotton became interested in music when he first heard Sonny Boy Williamson II on the radio. He left home to find Williamson in West Helena, Arkansas. For many years Cotton claimed that he told Williamson that he was an orphan, and that Williamson Boy took him in and raised him; a story he admitted in recent years is not true. Williamson did however mentor Cotton during his early years. When Williamson left the south to live with his estranged wife in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he left his band in Cotton's hands. Cotton was quoted as saying, "He just gave it to me. But I couldn't hold it together 'cause I was too young and crazy in those days an' everybody in the band was grown men, so much older than me."