This post is what it sounds like. I believe that many great blues musicians of the past, men and women who suffered through trial and tragedy and who are largely responsible for most of the music we have today, are tragically unknown and under-appreciated by the general public. If you listen to any branch of blues, rock, metal, pop, or rap then your favorite songs would probably never have existed without the people I'm discussing. To a lesser but still notable extent, the same is true in country, folk, and jazz. Basically, 90% of the music in the world today owes these ladies and gentlemen a debt of gratitude, yet many of them died penniless and have never received their due recognition even in death.
To that end, I've put together this little list. Of course this won't make a big impact, but if even a few people are inspired to look into some of these wonderful, passionate artists as a result of this post, then I'll consider it a success.
Oh, and because I hate to leave him off (even though I tend to see him as a rock'n'roll musician more than a blues musician) I just wanted to give honorable mention to my #26 pick, Bo Diddley.
So without further ado, here are, in my opinion:
The Top 25 Blues Musicians of All Time
#25. Hubert Sumlin (1931-2011)
#24. Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1915-1973)
#23. Albert Collins (1932-1993)
#22. Big Joe Turner (1911-1985)
#21. Freddie King (1934-1976)
#20. Sonny Boy Williamson II (1912-1965)
#19. Willie Dixon (1915-1992)
#18. Big Walter Horton (1918-1981)
#17. Son House (1902-1988)
#16. Ruth Brown (1928-2006)
#15. T-Bone Walker (1910-1975)
#14. John Lee Hooker (1917-2001)
#13. Buddy Guy (1936-present)
#12. Muddy Waters (1913-1983)
#11. Big Mama Thornton (1926-1984)
#10. Charley Patton (1891?-1934)
#9. Lead Belly (1888-1949)
#8. Koko Taylor (1928-2009)
#7. Albert King (1923-1992)
#6. Blind Lemon Jefferson (1893-1929)
#5. Howlin' Wolf (1910-1976)
At the height of the Chicago blues boom, Chess Records featured a pair of rivals vying for the spot atop the mountain. While Muddy Waters tends to get the nod from most fans, in terms of actual musical quality I heartily disagree. Howlin' Wolf, a huge, stern man who always carried a gun and kept his money with him in a briefcase because he didn't trust banks, had a degree of both intensity and gravitas that Muddy Waters could never match. The precision with which he handled his professional obligations and ran his band made for an excellent level of quality control. (It also made him one of the few bluesmen to maintain financial stability throughout his career.) Besides, Wolf's gravelly snarl was one of the coolest voices in music history.
#4. Mississippi John Hurt (1893?-1966)
#3. BB King (1925-present)
#2. Robert Johnson (1911-1938)
#1. Lightnin' Hopkins (1912-1982)