Bessie Smith
Ultimate Collection
Muddy Waters
Etta James

Blues

Blues is about tradition and personal expression. At its core, the blues has remained the same since its inception. Most blues feature simple, usually three-chord, progressions and have simple structures that are open to endless improvisations, both lyrical and musical. The blues grew out of African spirituals and worksongs. In the late 1800s, southern African-Americans passed the songs down orally, and they collided with American folk and country from the Appalachians. New hybrids appeared by each region, but all of the recorded blues from the early 1900s are distinguished by simple, rural acoustic guitars and pianos. After World War II, the blues began to fragment, with some musicians holding on to acoustic traditions and others taking it to jazzier territory. However, most bluesmen followed Muddy Waters' lead and played the blues on electric instruments. From that point on, the blues continued to develop in new directions -- particularly on electric instruments -- or it has been preserved as an acoustic tradition.

Blues Artists Highlights grid list

Bessie Smith
Bessie Smith
Muddy Waters
Muddy Waters
Etta James
Etta James
B.B. King
B.B. King
Bobby "Blue" Bland
Bobby "Blue" Bland
Robert Johnson
Robert Johnson
Jimmy Reed
Jimmy Reed
John Lee Hooker
John Lee Hooker
Buddy Guy
Buddy Guy
Albert King
Albert King
Lightnin' Hopkins
Lightnin' Hopkins
Otis Rush
Otis Rush
Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown
Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown
Lonnie Johnson
Lonnie Johnson
Big Joe Turner
Big Joe Turner
Willie Dixon
Willie Dixon
Charles Brown
Charles Brown
Big Walter Horton
Big Walter Horton
Son House
Son House
Roy Brown
Roy Brown
Freddie King
Freddie King
T-Bone Walker
T-Bone Walker
Little Walter
Little Walter
Sonny Boy Williamson II
Sonny Boy Williamson II
Junior Wells
Junior Wells
Champion Jack Dupree
Champion Jack Dupree
Leroy Carr
Leroy Carr
Brownie McGhee
Brownie McGhee
Michael Bloomfield
Michael Bloomfield
Johnny "Guitar" Watson
Johnny "Guitar" Watson
Pinetop Perkins
Pinetop Perkins
Jimmy Witherspoon
Jimmy Witherspoon
Little Milton
Little Milton
Memphis Slim
Memphis Slim
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee
Sonny Terry & Brownie ...
Paul Butterfield
Paul Butterfield
Professor Longhair
Professor Longhair
Robert Cray
Robert Cray
Lowell Fulson
Lowell Fulson
Mississippi Fred McDowell
Mississippi Fred McDowell
Percy Mayfield
Percy Mayfield
Earl King
Earl King
Big Joe Williams
Big Joe Williams
John Hammond, Jr.
John Hammond, Jr.
Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal
James Booker
James Booker
Charlie Musselwhite
Charlie Musselwhite
Wynonie Harris
Wynonie Harris

Blues subgenres and styles [+]