50 Chicago Artists Who Changed Popular Music — Playlist


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

As I noted at the end of each episode, this number is completely arbitrary: we could have chosen 100 or 1,000. Entries are also entirely subjective: each reader and listener can and should have their own list, and I would be can’t wait to hear them.

This series was simply a place to start the conversation, against the backdrop of a city that too often looks down on its artistic heritage, as became crystal clear when brilliant videographer and web guru Andrew Gill and I visited a location after the another that illustrates how much 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 would like to recap the list one more time and share a link to the YouTube playlist of all our videos.

1. Otis Rush 2. howling wolf 3. Koko Taylor 4. muddy waters 5. Willie Dixon 6. Boyfriend

7. chuck berry 8. Etta James 9. Bo Diddley

ten. Reverend Thomas A. Dorsey 11. mahalia jackson 12. Albertine Walker 13. The essential singers

14. The shadows of the knight 15. Paul Butterfield’s Blues Band 16. Chicago 17. Styx 18. Ides of March/survivor

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

27. Frankie Knuckles 28. Steve “Silk” Hurley 29. Cajmere/Velvet Green 30. Ron Hardy 31. Felix from Housecat

32. big black 33. The Effigies 34. nude raygun 35. howling weasel 36. Ministry

37. Eleventh Day Dream 38. Hardware problem 39. The Smashing Pumpkins 40. Excessive urgency 41. Liz Phair 42. Veruca Salt 43. Wilco

44. Common 45. Kanye West 46. The Lupe Fiasco 47. Rhymefest 48. Little sister 49. Chief Keef 50. Luck the rapper.



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