When it comes to music, Chicago stands out as one of the breeding grounds for amazing groups and musicians spanning across all genres and tastes. From blues and metal to alternative rock and hip hop, the Windy City has historically provided music that has lasted for decades and continues to be home to acts making their mark across the world. To help get our minds off COVID- 19 and the blues of being stuck at home, let’s take a look at some of the one of a kind music Chicago has given us throughout the years.
Chicago: A bit of a no-brainer, huh? One of the best selling groups of all time, Chicago’s music has entertained fans across the world since their late 60s debut (when they were known as the Chicago Transit Authority). With hits like If You Leave Me Now, Hard To Say I’m Sorry, and 25 or 6 to 4, Chicago has solidified their place as one of the most successful rock bands of all time to emerge from the Windy City.
Muddy Waters: Considered the godfather of the Chicago blues sound, Muddy Waters was born in Mississippi but moved to Chicago in the 40s, bringing his unique vocals and guitar playing to the South Side blues clubs. Combining the sounds of Mississippi Delta blues with the get-up of Chicago’s street vibe, Muddy Waters defined what we call Chicago Blues thanks to songs like I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man and Rollin’ Stone. Chicago is the undisputed home of the blues, and Muddy Waters stands tall at the top of the list of musicians who made the city the blues mecca it is.
The Smashing Pumpkins: Led by frontman/guitarist Billy Corgan, The Smashing Pumpkins erupted out of the late 80s/ early 90s alternative scene, putting Chicago on the map next to Seattle as the melting pot of rock music at the time. The group’s sophisticated arrangements and pop sensibilities stood out amongst the wailing guitars and drums on classic albums like Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. The recently reunited group has been back on the road as of late, bringing their unique, layered rock stylings to their millions of fans all over the world.
Earth, Wind & Fire: Since forming in Chicago in 1969, Earth, Wind & Fire have blended rock, funk, jazz, soul, and just about any other genre you can think of into music that is loved the world over. One of the best selling groups of all time thanks to songs like Shining Star, Reasons, and September, this Chicago group led by Maurice White has something for every musical taste and has influenced artists ranging from Lenny Kravitz and Justin Timberlake to Amy Winehouse and Erykah Badu.
Kanye West: Love him or loathe him, there’s no doubt that Kanye West has left his mark on the hip hop world and beyond thanks to a mixture of numerous hits and his outlandish personality. While born in Atlanta, West moved to Chicago at a young age and has always called the city home. Groundbreaking hip hop albums like College Dropout, Graduation, and 808s & Heartbreak cemented West as one of the genre’s top artists and producers with artists like Jay-Z, Alicia Keys and Ludacris all benefitting from West’s prowess in the recording studio. It would take a whole other blog post to capture West’s idiosyncratic tendencies, so just enjoy the music from one of Chicago’s most celebrated MCs.
Each of these artists has helped put Chicago on the map as one of the meccas of great music, but it’s by no means a complete list. Tune in next week for more Chicago artists who have brought the Windy City to the forefront of modern music.
ERIC KAPLAN AND DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO