The Blues Legends Who Shaped the Genre: B.B. King, Muddy Waters, and More

Music comes in different shapes and forms. It is eternal. Even the worst of it remains remembered. The popular trends we have today, that die out in a few months, are still remembered by many. But, when it comes to genres such as blues, it will last for an eternity. This music has soul, it has great names behind it, and a strong couture that will never allow for it to die out. We can say that blues has more influence on the music industry than it ever had before.

It is all thanks to the great names that existed in the past, to the musicians that pay respect to the genre today, and to all of those who will arrive in the future. Today, we will talk about some of the greatest names that blues music ever produced and that and similar outlets respect to this day. You’ve heard about B.B. King and Muddy Waters will be mentioned, but we will dig deeper towards names you might not have heard in a long time. Let’s check out together the best that blues music has to offer.

1. Robert Johnson

When we talk about blues we need to talk about Robert Johnson. He’s seen as the standard in this genre. His form of Delta Blues inspired the likes of Keith Richards and Eric Clapton. Not much is known of his origins besides the fact that early on he was a traveling musician from Mississippi. Johnson wasn’t of the best of luck, as during his life he has never reached the stardom of some other names from this list. Instead, he was recognized posthumously as one of the greatest blues guitarists of his time. His prowess in songwriting and singing was also top-notch. After all, the man was known as the King of Delta Blues.

2. Muddy Waters

A name that will resonate through eternity. His career dates back to 1946 when his first record was released. Consequently, he was to be known as the Chicago blues father. But, this is not all. He is also seen as the pioneer of what we today know as rock and rock and roll. His influence was so vast that bands in the late 70s and early 80s such as Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, and Rolling Stones cited Muddy as an inspiration and influence. What’s even more interesting is that Waters is also from Mississippi. A country that gave birth to so many amazing blues musicians. Since 1987 he’s been a member of the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame with some of his songs featuring on every list that cites songs that inspired rock and roll.

3. John Lee Hooker

During his youth nothing about this boy screamed that he’ll become a great blues influence. His father only exposed him to church music. The ray of light on his career was cast when his parents got divorced. His stepfather was a blues musician who introduced John Lee to the guitar. We could say that the rest is history and we wouldn’t be wrong. What followed was a style of guitar playing that was never seen before. Hooker owes his success to his Memphis roots where he first developed his special boogie-woogie sound. He is also another adept of the famed Delta Blues.

4. B.B. King

No lust for blues music can go without mentioning one and only B.B. King. He is yet another product of the Mississippi School of Blues. The same way as Hooker he made his career in the city of Memphis. It all started in 1948 when he first adopted the name that would make him famous. Only a decade later he was the start of the country and his songs were on the radio nonstop. He is a member of both the blues hall of Fame and rock and roll alike. Both honors came his way in the early and mid-80s.

5. Jimi Hendrix

A little bit younger name on this list. But, Jimi certainly deserves his mention in every blues story out there. What we were unfortunate not to witness is his gentle style getting older. Hendrix had a short career but his peak was unparalleled. His guitar-playing abilities left everyone and anyone without a breath. During only four short years, and that’s how long his peak lasted, he left an impression of a true artist. His skills on an electric guitar are unparalleled to this day. He was also a pioneer in using various guitar aids and amplifiers that gave him a unique sound.

6. Bessie Smith

Nicknamed The Empress, Smith truly reached high peaks in the blues genre. She’s another example of a career cut shot, this time by accident, but managed to peak very high during her short career.  She started by touring with Ma Rainey before she went solo. She is a name that is engraved in the Afro-American culture in the United States. Songs such as ‘Poor Man’s Blues’ and ‘Washerwoman’s Blues’ are anthems to this day in the culture of Americans and we’re not only talking about those of African descent.

7. Albert King

King made a name for himself during his career that resonates strongly even to this day. It is no wonder things are like this when he’s seen as one of the best guitarists of all time. The Rolling Stone magazine has him ranked 13th on this list. This is an unparalleled success that will be hardly equated by another blues musician any time soon. While he’s now seen as one of the best artists in the genre, his beginnings were not easy. He had to work as a construction worker and cotton field operator before he was able to make his living from music.

8. Ray Charles

Ray, the legend himself. It is a true wonder how a blind boy from Georgia managed to make a career for himself being born in 1930. Luckily for all of us, he did it, and he even rose to the top of the blues ladder. His career is one of the most remarkable and we’re not only talking about the blues genre. He managed to win seven Grammy awards and even the national Medal of the Arts. Some of his songs are recognizable in every corner of the world. Charles’s legend will never die.