List of Chicago blues musicians

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Chicago blues is a form of blues music that developed in Chicago, Illinois in the 1950s by taking the basic acoustic guitar and harmonica-based Delta blues and adding electrically amplified guitar, amplified bass guitar, drums, piano, and sometimes saxophone, and making the harmonica louder with a microphone and an instrument amplifier. The best-known Chicago blues musicians include singer/songwriters and bandleaders such as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and Willie Dixon; guitar players such as Freddie King, Luther Allison, and Buddy Guy; and "harp" (blues slang for harmonica) players such as Paul Butterfield, Little Walter and Charlie Musselwhite. In the 1960s and subsequent decades, the Chicago blues style and sound spread around the US and the UK (e.g. the Climax Blues Band) and beyond.

Guitarist Buddy Guy performing at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in 2006.

Notable Chicago blues musicians include:





  • Lester Davenport - Born January 16, 1932 in Tchula, Mississippi and moving to Chicago, Illinois in 1945, Davenport is an electric Chicago blues harmonica player and vocalist. He is also sometimes called "Mad Dog" Davenport. He recorded his first album in 1991 for Earwig Music, and then in 2002 released "I Smell a Rat" for Delmark Records.
  • Blind John Davis - (December 7, 1913 – October 12, 1985) Born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Davis was an accomplished blues, jazz, and boogie-woogie pianist, who recorded with Sonny Boy Williamson, Tampa Red, Big Bill Broonzy and Merline Johnson amongst others.
  • Jimmy Dawkins - Born October 24, 1936 in Tchula, Mississippi and moving to Chicago, Illinois in 1955, Dawkins is a guitarist and vocalist and a fixture of the modern electric Chicago blues scene. His first album was "Fast Fingers" recorded in 1969 for Delmark Records, for whom he recorded several others. He has also worked for the Earwig Music label, among others.
  • Bo Diddley - (December 30, 1928 – June 2, 2008) Born in McComb, Mississippi, Bo Diddley was a guitarist and vocalist who performed electric Chicago blues, rock and roll and rhythm and blues. He had a very long career that began in the 1950s. He recorded well over twenty albums for labels like Checker Records, Chess Records and Atlantic Records, among others.
  • Willie Dixon - (July 1, 1915 – January 29, 1992) Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, double-bassist, singer/songwriter, record producer and guitarist Dixon was a key figure on the acoutsic and electric Chicago blues scene. He was heavily involved in helping start the careers of artists like Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters, to name only a few. He recorded for numerous labels. He also performed jump blues and would sometimes sing jive.
  • Lefty Dizz (aka Walter Williams) Born April 29, 1937 in Osceola, Arkansas. Before his four-year tour of duty in the U.S. Air Force ended in 1956, Lefty began to play the guitar. When he returned to Chicago later that year, he came under the tutelage of Lacey Gibson and Earl Hooker. In 1958, Lefty joined Sonny Thompson's road band, playing rhythm 'n' blues throughout the country. During a gig in Seattle, a teenage guitarist named Jimi Hendrix, hung out with, and was influenced by, Lefty Dizz. In 1960, Lefty moved to Detroit, where he remained for four years, working with Junior Cannady and John Lee Hooker. From 1964 to 1971, Lefty worked with Junior Wells, during which time they toured the U.S., Canada, Africa, Europe, Southeast Asia, the Fiji Islands and Indonesia. Lefty then joined Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers, performing extensively until Hound Dog's passing in late 1975. He then formed his own band, Lefty Dizz and Shock Treatment, which became the vehicle for his unique brand of flamboyant and humorous showmanship featuring raucous performances of "low-down and dirty" Chicago Blues throughout Chicago and on numerous international tours. Lefty performed regularly at the Kingston Mines and B.L.U.E.S on Chicago's North Side, and at the Checkerboard Lounge on the City's South Side, where he hosted the legendary Blue Monday Blues Jam for a decade, beginning in the late 1970s. International rock stars, including members of the Rolling Stones, Foghat and many others would come to sit in on Lefty's gigs, and the City's best blues musicians also were regulars at the Blue Monday Blues Jam. His most well-known compositions include "Bad Avenue", "I Found Out", If I Could Just Get My Hands on What I Got My Eyes On", Funny Acting Woman", "Somebody Stole My Christmas" and "Ain't It Nice to be Loved". Lefty Dizz succumbed to esophageal cancer on September 7, 1993 at age 56.
  • Johnny Drummer
  • Little Arthur Duncan – (1934 – 2008) Born in Indianola, Mississippi, Duncan relocated to Chicago and accompanied Earl Hooker in the 1950s, before releasing three solo albums before his death.
  • Champion Jack Dupree




  • The Harlem Hamfats - Formed in 1936 by musicians that were not even from Harlem, New York led by trumpeter Herb Morand, the group performed mostly Chicago blues and East Coast blues while backing jazz musicians. The members were Kansas Joe McCoy, Charlie McCoy, Odell Rand, John Lindsay, Horace Malcolm, Pearlis Williams and Freddie Flynn. The group's inclusion in the dirty blues genre is due to such songs as Gimme Some of that Yum Yum and Lets Get Drunk and Truck.
  • Harmonica Hinds - Born in Trinidad in 1945, Hinds has played with many blues artists for more than five decades. He is considered one of the most talented Chicago blues musicians and he remains active on the Chicago blues scene.
  • Shakey Jake Harris (April 12, 1921 – March 2, 1990) Born in Earle, Arkansas, Harris was long associated with his nephew, Magic Sam.
  • Homesick James
  • Earl Hooker (January 15, 1930 - April 21, 1970) Born in Clarksdale MS, Earl moved to Chicago with his family in the early 1940s. A cousin of John Lee Hooker, Earl was a slide guitarist who left an indelible mark on the Chicago blues scene. After learning the rudiments of slide guitar from elder blues statesman Robert Nighthawk, Earl joined Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm band in 1949 and toured the south. After returning to Chicago in the mid-1950s, Earl was a much in-demand slide session player, recording with artists like Pinetop Perkins, Muddy Waters and his cousin, John Lee. He died of TB in 1970.
  • Big Walter Horton - (April 6, 1917 – December 8, 1981) Born in Horn Lake, Mississippi and also known as Shakey Walter Horton, Horton was one of the better-known harmonica players of his day. He played the gamut, including Memphis blues, Chicago blues, juke joint blues and harmonica blues. He performed both acoustic as well as amplified harmonica, and was also a singer.
  • Howlin' Wolf[1]
  • J. B. Hutto


  • Daniel Ivankovich aka "Chicago Slim" - Born November 23, 1963. Ivankovich is a founding member of the Chicago Blues All-Stars. He has played and recorded alongside myriad Chicago blues legends, including Otis Rush, Magic Slim and Junior Wells. Ivankovich is also an orthopedic surgeon, who is co-founder and medical director of OnePatient-Global Health Initiative, an organization that provides medical care to the poor in Chicago and abroad.













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Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b Gilliland, John (1969). "The Tribal Drum: The rise of rhythm and blues" (AUDIO). Pop Chronicles.  Show 4.
  2. ^ "Blues Music Awards 2011 - A Delta Bohemian Perspective". 2011-05-26. Retrieved 2013-03-07.