List of Chicago blues musicians

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Chicago blues is a form of blues music developed in Chicago, Illinois, in the 1950s, in which the basic instrumentation of Delta blues—acoustic guitar and harmonica—is augmented with electric guitar, amplified bass guitar, drums, piano, harmonica played with a microphone and an amplifier, and sometimes saxophone. The best-known Chicago blues musicians include singer-songwriters and bandleaders 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 Little Walter, Paul Butterfield, and Charlie Musselwhite. Since the 1960s, the Chicago blues style and sound has spread around the US, the UK and beyond.

Guitarist Buddy Guy performing at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in 2006

A list of notable Chicago blues musicians follows.


  • Alberta Adams (July 26, 1917 – December 25, 2014)
  • Linsey Alexander (born July 23, 1942, Holly Springs, Mississippi). Moved to Chicago in 1959, where he was active in the South Side music scene and became one of the hardest-working bluesmen in Chicago. He is known for his strong voice and guitar with his own style of electric blues. His album Been There Done That, recorded by Delmark Records in 2012, has been critically acclaimed as pure blues of the finest quality.
  • Luther Allison (August 17, 1939, Widener, Arkansas – August 12, 1997). Moved to Chicago as a teenager and became a major force in the blues scene there, primarily as an electric guitarist and also as a singer. He released many albums for Alligator Records, based in Chicago.
  • Kokomo Arnold (February 15, 1901, Lovejoy's Station, Georgia – November 8, 1968). Slide guitarist and vocalist who began his career in New York and moved to Chicago in the latter half of the 1920s. He stopped recording for good in 1938, because he was not making a livable wage performing. His first recording was for Decca Records. Several compilation albums of his work have been released, such as those issued by Document Records.





  • Billy Flynn (born August 11, 1956). Electric guitarist, singer and songwriter.
  • "Baby Face" Leroy Foster (February 1, 1923 – May 26, 1958). Singer, guitarist, and drummer.
  • Little Willy Foster (April 5 or April 20, 1922 – November 25, 1987). Harmonica player, singer, and songwriter.
  • The Four Aces. One of the earliest and most influential of the electric Chicago blues bands in the 1950s.
  • Steve Freund (born July 20, 1952). Guitarist, singer, bandleader and record producer.



  • The Harlem Hamfats. Formed in 1936 by musicians who were not from Harlem, New York, led by trumpeter Herb Morand, the group performed mostly Chicago blues and East Coast blues and backed jazz musicians. The group consisted of Kansas Joe McCoy, Charlie McCoy, Odell Rand, John Lindsay, Horace Malcolm, Pearlis Williams and Freddie Flynn. The group also performed dirty blues, such as the songs "Gimme Some of That Yum Yum" and "Lets Get Drunk and Truck".
  • Harmonica Hinds (born January 4, 1945, Trinidad). Considered one of the most talented Chicago blues musicians, having played with many blues artists for more than five decades. He is still active on the Chicago blues scene.
  • Shakey Jake Harris (April 12, 1921, Earle, Arkansas – March 2, 1990). Singer, harmonica player and songwriter, long associated with his nephew, Magic Sam.
  • Homesick James (April 30, 1910 [uncertain] – December 13, 2006). Slide guitarist. Elmore James was his cousin.
  • Earl Hooker (January 15, 1930, Clarksdale, Mississippi – April 21, 1970). Moved to Chicago with his family in the early 1940s. Slide guitarist who left an indelible mark on the Chicago blues. Having learning the rudiments of slide guitar from Robert Nighthawk, he joined Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm in 1949 and toured the South. He returned to Chicago in the mid-1950s and became much in demand as a session player, recording with artists like Pinetop Perkins, Muddy Waters and his cousin, John Lee Hooker.
  • Big Walter Horton (April 6, 1921, Horn Lake, Mississippi – December 8, 1981). Also known as Shakey Walter Horton, he 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 played both acoustic and amplified harmonica and was also a singer.
  • Howlin' Wolf[1] (June 10, 1910 – January 10, 1976). Singer, guitarist and harmonica player.
  • J. B. Hutto (April 26, 1926 – June 12, 1983). Guitarist and singer.


  • Daniel Ivankovich (Chicago Slim) (born November 23, 1963). Founding member of the Chicago Blues All-Stars. He has performed and recorded with many Chicago blues legends, including Otis Rush, Magic Slim and Junior Wells. He is also an orthopedic surgeon and a co-founder and medical director of OnePatient-Global Health Initiative, an organization that provides medical care to the poor in Chicago and abroad.



  • Danny Kalb (born September 9, 1942). Guitarist and singer.
  • E.G. Kight (born January 17, 1966). Singer, guitarist and songwriter.
  • Eddie King (April 21, 1938 – March 14, 2012). Guitarist, singer and songwriter.
  • Big Daddy Kinsey (March 18, 1927 – April 3, 2001). Singer, guitarist and harmonica player.
  • Donald Kinsey (born May 12, 1953). Guitarist and singer.
  • Cub Koda (October 1, 1948 – July 1, 2000). Rock and roll singer, guitarist, songwriter, disc jockey, music critic, and record compiler.




  • Robert Nighthawk (November 30, 1909 – November 5, 1967). Guitarist, harmonica player and singer.






  • Tampa Red (January 8, 1904 [uncertain] – March 19, 1981). Guitarist and songwriter.
  • Eddie Taylor (January 29, 1923 – December 25, 1985). Electric blues guitarist and singer.
  • Hound Dog Taylor (April 12, 1915 – December 17, 1975). Guitarist and singer.
  • Koko Taylor (September 28, 1928 – June 3, 2009). Singer.
  • Melvin Taylor (born March 13, 1959). Guitarist.
  • Johnny Temple (October 18, 1906 – November 22, 1968). Guitarist and singer.



See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b Gilliland, John (1969). "The Tribal Drum: The Rise of Rhythm and Blues" (audio). Pop Chronicles.  Show 4.