List of Chicago Blues Musicians
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List of Chicago Blues Musicians
Guitarist Buddy Guy performing at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in 2006

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 Elmore James, 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.


  • 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 City 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.
  • 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[4] (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.


  • Elmore James (January 27, 1918, Richland, Mississippi – May 24, 1963). Slide guitarist, playing acoustic and electric guitars, and singer. He performed Delta blues and Chicago blues and is best known for the latter. His technique influenced a generation of guitarists who followed.
  • Jimmy Johnson (born November 25, 1928). Guitarist and singer.
  • Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson (born April 11, 1939). Electric guitarist best known for his long stints with Muddy Waters in the 1970s. In 1980 he began doing solo work. His debut album was released by Evidence Records in 1976. He has also recorded for Telarc and Bullseye Blues.
  • Luther "Snake Boy" Johnson (born Lucius Brinson Johnson, August 30, 1941, Davisboro, Georgia – March 18, 1976). Electric guitarist, singer and songwriter, also known as Snake or Georgia Boy and sometimes billed as Luther King or Little Luther (he recorded under the latter name for Chess Records in the 1960s).
  • L.V. Johnson (December 25, 1946 - November 22, 1994). Guitarist, singer and songwriter.
  • Syl Johnson (born July 1, 1936). Blues and soul singer and record producer.
  • Floyd Jones (July 21, 1917 - December 19, 1989). Singer, guitarist and songwriter.
  • Johnny "Yard Dog" Jones (June 21, 1941 - September 16, 2015). Chicago blues and soul blues singer, guitarist, harmonica player, and songwriter.
  • Little Johnny Jones (November 1, 1924 - November 19, 1964). Pianist and singer.
  • Moody Jones (April 8, 1908, Earle, Arkansas - March 23, 1988). Guitarist, bass player, and singer. Performed on Maxwell Street in the 1940s. A significant figure in the development of postwar Chicago blues, backing his cousin Floyd Jones, Snooky Pryor and others on singles released in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
  • Tail Dragger Jones - (born September 30, 1940) is an American Chicago blues singer. He has performed since the 1960s and released four albums to date. Jones gained a certain notoriety in 1993, after being convicted of second-degree murder for the killing of fellow blues musician, Boston Blackie.


  • 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.



  • Willie Mabon (October 24, 1925 - April 19, 1985). Pianist, singer and songwriter.
  • Magic Sam (February 14, 1937 - December 1, 1969). Guitarist and singer.
  • Liz Mandeville. Singer, songwriter, guitarist, rubboard player, music producer, owner of the record label Blue Kitty Music.
  • Earring George Mayweather (September 27, 1928 - February 12, 1995) was born in Montgomery, Alabama, United States. Although he only recorded a single solo album, Mayweather's harmonica work appeared on recordings by J. B. Hutto and Eddie Taylor.[5]
  • Holle Thee Maxwell (born October 17, 1945, Chicago). Singer and songwriter with a six-decade career. She is known for her command of a wide range of genres. She replaced Tina Turner as vocalist with Ike Turner's band. Bobby Bland used one of the songs she wrote for his critically acclaimed album Come Fly with Me.
  • L. C. McKinley (October 22, 1918 - January 19, 1970). Guitarist.
  • Big Maceo Merriweather (March 31, 1905 - February 23, 1953). Pianist and singer.
  • Little Brother Montgomery (April 18, 1906 - September 6, 1985). Pianiat and singer.
  • Johnny B. Moore (born January 24, 1950). Guitarist, singer and songwriter.
  • Nick Moss (born December 15, 1969). Guitarist, bassist, harmonica player and singer.
  • Matt "Guitar" Murphy (December 29, 1929 - June 15, 2018). Guitarist. He was associated with the bands The Blues Brothers and Howlin' Wolf.
  • Charlie Musselwhite (born January 31, 1944). Electric blues harmonica player and bandleader.
  • Gary Martin (Blues guitarist and singer) (Born July 24, 1954).


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








See also

Further reading

  • Allmusic
  • Keil, Charles (1991) [1966]. Urban Blues. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-42960-1.


  1. ^ Edward Komara; Peter Lee (July 2004). The Blues Encyclopedia. Routledge. p. 301. ISBN 978-1-135-95832-9.
  2. ^ Ryan Olsen (2006). Komara, Edward, ed. Encyclopedia of the Blues. New York: Routledge. p. 640. ISBN 978-0-415-92699-7. OL 7496252M.
  3. ^ "Jimmie Gordon | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved .
  4. ^ a b Gilliland, John (1969). "The Tribal Drum: The Rise of Rhythm and Blues" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries. Show 4.
  5. ^ Edward Komara; Peter Lee. The Blues Encyclopedia. p. 664. Retrieved .

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