Blues rock brings together the best of both worlds. The intimacy and real-life struggles of the blues meet the electrified adrenaline-rush of rock ‘n roll. Blues rock updates the blues for the 21st Century, informing the future and reminding us of where we’re coming from.
A list of the best blues rock bands is going to be subjective, as is all art and music. Still, there are some time-honored classics that have made the genre what it is. Here’s our list of the best blues rock bands.
5 Best Blues Rock Bands
Blues rock started out as amplified rhythm & blues, basically. The jumping, jiving clubs of Chicago’s South Side inspired southern sharecroppers to plug in their guitars and harmonics to be heard over the crowd. Some of the best blues rock bands are just artists who made the jump successfully.
1. Muddy Waters
It pretty much says it all that Muddy Waters is one of the most influential blues musicians of all time, who has also been inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall Of Fame. Born McKinley Morganfield in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, Muddy Waters enjoyed success as an early folk blues artist before plugging in and rocking out!
Muddy Waters’ sides from the ’50s have been called “some of the greatest musical treasures of the 20th Century.” Surely The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and Jimi Hendrix would agree!
2. B. B. King
B. B. King is another important artist who made the leap from acoustic blues to electric. He’s been called “The King Of The Blues,” alongside other early innovators like Albert King and Freddie King. These Three Kings set the gold standard for the electric blues to come.
B. B. King’s influence alone is reason enough to consider him among the best blues rock bands of all time. His shimmering solos and soulful vocals gave a classy, timeless elegance to African-American music that puts him alongside Duke Ellington as one of African-American music’s greatest cultural ambassadors.
3. Butterfield Blues Band
Paul Butterfield and the Butterfield Blues Band serve as the bridge between the early blues roots innovators and the blues rock to come. Also hailing from Chicago, Paul Butterfield cut his teeth playing with Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf.
Butterfield was also a classically-trained musician. He studied flute with Walfrid Kujala of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. This would help push the Butterfield Blues Band into the emerging jazz fusion camp.
The Butterfield Blues Band would help future-proof blues rock for future generations. They deserve a mention among the best blues bands of all time.
It didn’t take long for blues rock to cross the pond. Many of the best blues rock bands of all time hail from England. Cream is one of the earliest and most striking examples.
In the ’60s, you couldn’t enter a public loo or walk down a dark alley without seeing the phrase “Clapton Is God” scrawled across the bricks. The fact that a whip-thin Englishman could be elevated to Godhead status, simply playing electric blues, shows how hungry British crowds were for authentic American music.
Eric Clapton and Cream would help usher in the oncoming Acid Rock boom, taken into the stratosphere by…
5. The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Blues hounds have argued among themselves for decades whether or not Jimi Hendrix is the greatest guitar player of all time. However you weigh in on that controversy, it’s hard to argue the influence that Jimi Hendrix would have on blues rock.
Born in Seattle, Jimi Hendrix is an unlikely acolyte for the raw blues and early rock ‘n roll. Perhaps it’s his distance from the American South. Perhaps it’s Jimi’s removal from the harsh realities of the South that helped him pioneer his future-leaning, acid-fried 12-bar opuses.
Whether you’re new to the genre or rediscovering cherished grooves, you’re bound to find some fret-searing inspiration among the artists we’ve mentioned.