50 Chicago Artists Who Changed Popular Music — Playlist

Chicago Music Stars
Andrew Gill / Photos by Associated Press/Design by WBEZ
Chicago Music Stars
Andrew Gill / Photos by Associated Press/Design by WBEZ

50 Chicago Artists Who Changed Popular Music — Playlist

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For the last nine weeks, this series has counted down this critic and fan’s choices for the most important Chicago Artists Who Changed Popular Music, from 1 to 50.

As I’ve noted at the end of each installment, that number is completely arbitrary: We could have gone with 100 or 1,000. The entries also are entirely subjective: Every reader and listener can and should have their own list, and I’d be eager to hear them.

This series simply was a place to get the conversation started, in the context of a city that all too often slights its artistic legacy, as became crystal clear when brilliant videographer and web guru Andrew Gill and I visited one location after another that illustrates just how little Chicago cares about its musical history.

Thanks again to Andrew for helping to pull this series together, as well as to WBEZ online majordomo 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 YouTube playlist of all of our videos.


The Blues

1. Otis Rush 2. Howlin’ Wolf 3. Koko Taylor 4. Muddy Waters 5. Willie Dixon 6. Buddy Guy


Chess Records

7. Chuck Berry 8. Etta James 9. Bo Diddley



10. Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey 11. Mahalia Jackson 12. Albertina Walker 13. The Staple Singers
14. The Shadows of Knight 15. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band 16. Chicago 17. Styx 18. Ides of March/Survivor


Soul and R&B

9. Curtis Mayfield 20. Sam Cooke 21. Lou Rawls 22. Gene Chandler 23. Chaka Khan 24. Earth, Wind & Fire 25. Donny Hathaway 26. R. Kelly


House Music

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. Screeching Weasel 36. Ministry


Alt Rock

37. Eleventh Dream Day 38. Material Issue 39. The Smashing Pumpkins 40. Urge Overkill 41. Liz Phair 42. Veruca Salt 43. Wilco


Hip Hop

44. Common 45. Kanye West 46. Lupe Fiasco 47. Rhymefest 48. Kid Sister 49. Chief Keef 50. Chance the Rapper.