"The Great Migration" during the first half of the Twentieth Century. The Illinois Central Railroad carried people from the Mississippi Delta to Memphis and then on to Chicago, where musicians played for newly employed factory workers in South Side clubs.
In Chicago, the blues grew from a soloistic medium to a group endeavor, with piano and "harp" (harmonica), and a more powerful electrified guitar often taking the place of the acoustic guitar. There was often a saxophone in the mix. Chicago blues greatly influenced early Rock n' Roll and Rhythm and Blues.
Compact Disc 11957
Robert Johnson, the quintessential Delta Blues musician who never actually lived in Chicago, composed "Sweet Home Chicago" and recorded it in Texas in 1936. It has become a standard of Chicago blues since then. Even President Barack Obama sang it at a White House celebration of the blues (with Buddy Guy and B.B. King):
Some of the most famous performers are:
Muddy Waters (1913 or 1915 - 1983) grew up on Stovall Plantation near Clarksdale, Mississippi under the influence of Son House and Robert Johnson. He moved to Chicago in the 1940s and his influence continues to be felt. His first recordings were made by Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress. In Chicago he recorded for the Chess Brothers on the Aristocrat label. He is considered the "father" of Chicago Blues and is credited with the change from acoustic to electric guitar. His 1950 song "Rolling Stone" inspired a young British Rock group to name themselves The Rolling Stones.
- Complete Plantation Recordings (1941-1942) Compact Disc 2677
- Blues Straight Ahead Compact Disc 7390
- The Real Folk Blues (1947-1966) Compact Disc 2675
- Goodbye Newport Blues (1963, 1969) Compact Disc 4303
- Folk Singer (1964) Compact Disc 11431
- Muddy, Brass & The Blues (1966) Compact Disc 4526
- Big Mama Thornton with the Muddy Waters Blues Band (1966) Compact Disc 15762
- Essential Blues Grooves, Vol. 1 (1975) Compact Disc 15680
- I'm Ready (1977) Compact Disc 13956
- King Bee (1980) Compact Disc 13955
- Muddy Waters (Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues)
An overview of Muddy Waters' career in conjunction with the television Show
Compact Disc 13964
Big Bill Broonzy (1893-1958) grew up in Arkansas, across the river from the Mississippi side of the Delta. After moving to Chicago in the 1920s, he began recording with his acoustic guitar and changed to electric in the 1940s, but played acoustic for folk music revival tours of the 1950s. He inspired other blues musicians such as Muddy Waters, as well as early rock and roll guitarists.
- Blue Smoke: The Recorded Journey of Big Bill Broonzy ML 420 .B78 H68 2010
- Big Bill Broonzy Sings Folk Songs, recorded in 1958 by Moses Asch during the folk music revival of the 1950s. Compact Disc 6324
- Legendary Country Blues Guitarists (two songs). DVD Video 11591
- I am the Blues: The Willie Dixon Story ML 410 .D68 A3 1989
Buddy Guy (b. 1936) He was born in Louisiana and moved to Chicago in the 1950s. He learned the blues on a diddley bow and later played guitar. He was a session guitarist for Chess Records and broke out as a soloist in the 1980s. Today he is one of the best-known blues musician, playing rock-tinged blues. He has collaborated with Eric Clapton.
Albert King (1923 - 1992) was born in Indianola, Mississippi and spent part of his childhood in
Arkansas. He moved to Chicago in the 1950s, but then left for St. Louis and finally settled in Memphis. He influenced rock and blues guitarists alike.
In Session (With Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1983)
Compact Disc 12022
The Real Folk Blues
Compact Disc 12168
Compact Disc 15114
For more information, check out these books:
- Exploring Chicago Blues: Inside the Scene, Past and Present ML 3521 .C86 2014
- Chicago Blues: Portraits and Stories ML 394 .W5 2006
- Chicago Breakdown ML 3556 .R7 1975
- Crossroads: How the Blues Shaped Rock 'n' Roll (and Rock Saved the Blues)
- Urban Blues ML 3556 .K43
- Machers and Rockers: Chess Records and the Business of Rock &Roll
- Spinning Blues into Gold: The Chess Brothers and the Legendary Chess Records ML 405 .C64 2000
- Blues All Day Long: The Jimmy Rogers Story ML 420 .R613 G65 0214
- Going to Chicago: A Year on the Chicago Blues Scene ML 3521 .G63 1990
Soundtrack to "Chicago Blues" (1970)
Soundtrack to "The Blues Brothers"
Compact Disc 21975