Chicago has a long and storied history in the blues. When musicians migrated here during the Great Migration, they needed places to go to blow off steam after putting in long hours at factory jobs or (as Buddy Guy tells it- his job as a tow truck driver). So bars all over the south and west side started putting in stages and sound systems and the Chicago sound was born. Later as the clubs started closing, blues was “discovered” by people on the north side and clubs started opening there. We have gathered a group of historians known worldwide as experts on that era to put together a list and tell some stories.
The experts are:
Richard Shurman, noted blues music producer and journalist who frequented the south side venues cutting his teeth in the blues world while going to school at the University of Chicago.
Scott Dirks is a former DJ on WLUP Chicago (The Loop). He is also an accomplished harmonica player, a journalist, and the author (along with Tony Glover and Ward Gaines of the book “Blues with a Feeling: The Little Walter Story (2002)
Bruce Iglauer is the founder and president of Alligator Records
Big John’s On the west side of the 1600 block of north Wells Street.
Mother Blues 1305 N. Wells St.
They presented Billy Boy Arnold, Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy, Magic Sam, Muddy Waters, Otis Rush, Eddie Taylor, Junior Wells, Big Joe Williams, Paul Butterfield, James Cotton, Rev. Gary Davis, Little Brother Montgomery, Otis Rush, and Josh White in the mid-’60s
The Fickle Pickle
Quiet Knight Corner of Belmont and Southport on the second floor.
North side location for many legendary events. The Rolling Stones came to see Muddy Waters there during one of their tour stopovers. Also the Siegel Schwall Blues Band dad a many year Tuesday night Residency there.
Frost’s Corner 609 Scott Street
Johnny Shines, Willie Nix, Big Walter Horton, Lee Jackson, Memphis Minnie, Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, and Jimmy Rogers frequently played gigs in the early to mid ’50s.
The Square Deal Club 230 W. Division
Homesick James and Jimmy Walker performed there in the 1930s, Johnny Young and Uncle Johnny Williams frequently played in the late ’40s, and Otis “Big Smokey” Smothers made his first Chicago appearance here
Cotton Club Northeast corner of Clybourn and Halsted
There was also a Cotton Club on the South Side.
The Club Evergreen 1322 N. Clybourn
Regular gigs by Little Hudson Showers and Rhythm Willie
Bob’s 950 Lounge 950 N. Wells St
The Gate Of Horn 753 N. Dearborn A popular venue during the initial folk blues boom of the late ’50s and early ’60s, where crossover artists such as Odetta, Josh White and Little Brother Montgomery played in ’59 and ’60
WHERE THE BLUES GIANTS LIVED
Little Walter’s apartment 8125 S. Vernon
Building owned by Dinah Washington
Otis Rush’s Apartment 4803 S. Indiana
Bob, Dave, and Louis Myers first residence in Chicago 3946 S. Indiana
Muddy Waters first two apartments 1851 and 1857 W. 13th
Howlin Wolf’s House 829 E. 88th
Little Milton’s House 88th and Ridgeland
Billy Boy Arnold’s House 89th and Cregier
Otis Rush’s House 1411 E 72nd
Dave Myers’ house 1301 E. 72nd
Junior Wells and Buddy Guy’s House 1 E 72nd
Apartment that Elmore James first resided in Chicago in the early ’50s. 4714 S. Evans
Big Bill Broonzy’s apartment west side of King Drive just south of 47th
across from the old Regal 4708 S. King Dr.
Sonny BoyWilliamson’s House 3226 S. Giles
The home in 1968 of Little Walter Jacobs 209 E. 54th St
He lived–and died–in the now-abandoned second floor rear apartment on the 54th St. side.
Sunnyland Slim’s apartment and rehearsal space in the ’40s and ’50s; at 216 E. 31st St.
Tampa Red’s basement apartment 227 E. 31st
Big Walter Horton’s home in the ’60s and ’70s 3417 S. Giles
Muddy Waters’ first temporary residence in Chicago 3652 S. Calumet Ave.
Muddy Waters’ home 4339 S. Lake Park
This was Muddy Waters home until he moved to the suburbs late in his life. He kept several bedrooms in the basement for touring musicians to live in. His band also rehearsed in the basement, providing a free concert most nights fort the neighborhood. The house is currently being renovated and turned into a museum.
Homesick James Williamson’s home 1503 N. Wieland
The site of Elmore James’ death