50 Chicago Artists Who Changed Popular Music – Playlist

Over the past nine weeks, this series has counted these critics and fans’ picks for the most important Chicago artists who have changed popular music, from 1 to 50.

As I noted at the end of each installment, this number is completely arbitrary: we could have gone with 100 or 1000. The entries are also completely subjective: each reader and listener can and should have their own list, and I would look forward to hearing them.

This series was simply a place to start the conversation, against the backdrop of a city that too often neglects its artistic heritage, as became clear when brilliant videographer and web guru Andrew Gill and I visited a location after the another which illustrates how Little Chicago cares about its musical history.


Thanks again to Andrew for helping put this series together, as well as WBEZ online butler Tricia Bobeda, former digital intern Jack Howard, and everyone on the WBEZ web team.

Now I’d like to recap the list one more time and share a link to the YouTube playlist of all of our videos.

1. Otis rush 2. Howling wolf 3. Koko taylor 4. Muddy waters 5. Willie Dixon 6. boyfriend guy

seven. Chuck berry 8. Etta James 9. Bo Diddley

ten. Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey 11. Mahalia jackson 12. Albertine Walker 13. The essential singers

14. Shadows of the knight 15. The Paul Butterfield blues band 16. Chicago 17. Styx 18. Ides of March / Survivor

9. Curtis Mayfield 20. Sam cooke 21. Lou rawls 22. Gene Chandler 23. Chaka Khan 24. Earth, Air and Fire 25. Donny Hathaway 26. R. Kelly

27. Frankie knuckles 28. Steve “Silk” Hurley 29. Cajmere / Green Velvet 30. Ron hardy 31. Felix da housecat

32. Big black 33. The effigies 34. Naked raygun 35. howling weasel 36. Ministry

37. Eleventh dream day 38. Hardware problem 39. The Smashing Pumpkins 40. Craving for exaggeration 41. Liz Phair 42. Veruca salt 43. Wilco

44. Commmon 45. Kanye west 46. Lupe Fiasco 47. Rhymefest 48. kid sister 49. Chief Keef 50. Chance the rapper.


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