The history of the Blues is studded with many fantastic musicians, but who are the best blues singers ever? Here is my attempt to present what I believe are the best three.
Now of legendary status, he was the first blues “star” and has never been eclipsed by countless protégés. His thick heavy voice, the laid back delivery and his firm, almost solid, personality is regarded as a bench mark for all blues singers. His style was essentially Delta blues adapted to amplification. His imaginative slide technique and strong, driving rhythms were fore runners of modern blues.
Waters, dominated the 1950s Chicago blues scene, and with the help of songwriter Willie Dixon, produced a string of hit records including “Hoochie Coochie Man”, “I Just Want to Make Love to You”, and “I’m Ready”. Those songs are now regarded as blues classics.
They gave him a series of showstoppers, developed the Macho image now synonymous with blues, and enabled Waters to achieve national prominence. His English tours ignited the 60’s British Blues explosion that became so important not only for blues but for Rock music in general. It would be difficult to exaggerate the influence that Muddy Waters has had on modern music.
Known as the “Queen of the Blues.” Her vocal delivery was powerful and rough rivaling her male counterparts. She was discovered by Willie Dixon in 1962, and recorded his song “Wang Dang Doodle. It established Taylor as a leading female Blues singer, however she was unable to further her commercial success until she signed with Alligator Records in 1975. 8 Of the nine albums she recorded for Alligator, were Grammy-nominated.
Taylor became the dominant female blues singer, winning twenty five W. C. Handy Awards (more than any other artist). Following a near fatal car crash she went on to appear in the movies “The Blues Brothers 2000” and “Wild at Heart”. Taylor influenced many singers including Janis Joplin, Bonnie Raitt and Shemekia Copeland. She remains the most outstanding female blues singer.
“The father of British blues” is best known for his amazing ability to discover great instrumentalist including Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Mick Taylor, however he has one of the most distinctive voices of the blues. Perhaps because he not black American he has developed his own style rather than conform to the established norms.
His amazing vocal range, often breaking into falsetto, is more of a plaintive wail than the usual “deep growl” He seems to have been influenced by his hero JB Lenoir rather than the usual Muddy Waters / Howling Wolf as so many of his contemporaries are. John Mayall is unique among blues vocalists.