Before I talk about the best blues singers in the industry, let’s take a quick look at what blues music is and who is called a blues singer.
The blues is a music genre that began in the 1860s in the southern and south-eastern parts of the United States, also known as “The Deep South” of the USA.
But, the thing is, as mentioned earlier, this genre was created in the 1860s (more than 150 years ago), which is why many of the blues singers on this list are dead.
Let’s talk about some of the best blues singers who left a glowing mark on the music industry that can never be faded or removed.
1 Eric Clapton
I am starting things off with the 77-years-old blues singer Eric Clapton, who was born on the 30th of March 1945 in Ripley, Surrey, England.
His complete name is Eric Patrick Clapton. You can also call him one of the best and most influential blues singers of all time.
Eric Clapton has been ranked among the top in many magazines as one of the best singers and guitarists of all time.
His mother was just 16 years old when he was born, and his dad was 25. His dad was Army personnel hailing from Quebec, Canada.
Eric Clapton used to believe that his grandparents were his actual parents and his mom was his sister. His father died when Eric was around 40 years old.
Later, his mom remarried and went to Germany, and he began living with his grandparents. He received a Hoyer guitar as a birthday present, but it was pretty difficult for him to play the guitar.
So what? He could not develop any interest in the instrument and music, for that matter. But after time, he decided to continue playing the guitar.
Blues music greatly influenced him from an early age, and at the age of 16, people began noticing his talent.
In 1962, at the age of 17, he officially entered the industry as a blues singer, and eight years later, he gave out his 1st album, “Eric Clapton,” in 1970.
“Happy Xmas” is his latest studio album so far, which came out in 2018. Among his hundreds of songs, “Layla” stands out as the best.
Eric Clapton’s Instagram following: 545,000+
Spotify monthly listeners: 11.4 million+
SoundCloud following: 18,800+
2 B.B. King
B.B. King’s real name is Riley B. King. He also became a “Rock and Roll Hall Of Famer” in 1987. You can pretty much guess why his stage name has “king” in it.
Let me tell you if you can’t guess. B.B. King, alongside two other great blues singers, is regarded as the “Three Kings of the Blues Guitar.”
His birth date is the 16th of September 1925, and his birthplace is Berclair, Mississippi, USA.
B.B. King was very consistent with his work.
Riley B. King used to appear in many shows in his prime, and when I say many, I mean hundreds of them. He was born on a cotton farm.
That is why, before becoming a blues singer, he used to work at that farm. When he was little, his mom and dad separated.
So, he lived his early life in his grandparents’ home. He was attracted to blues music and used to sing in choirs in churches.
It is believed that he had 15 kids during his life, and he slept with many women. Though he only married twice during his lifetime.
On the 14th of May 2015, after suffering several strokes because of type 2 diabetes, he left this world. He was 89 years old at the time.
B.B. King released 42 studio albums in his career. His debut album was “Singin’ The Blues,” which was released in 1957.
And “One Kind Favor” was his last album, which came out in 2008. He has released many songs, and “The Thrill Is Gone” is the best of them.
B.B. King’s Instagram following: 58,100+
Spotify monthly listeners: 3 million+
SoundCloud following: 7,900+
3 Janis Joplin
This blues singer, in just 27 years of his life, left a huge mark on the industry. She was born on the 19th of January 1943 in Port Arthur, Texas, USA.
In her prime, she was one of the best female artists. She was both a singer and songwriter. Her dad was an engineer, and her mother was a registrar.
She was a special kind of child when she was little; that is why her parents had to give extra attention to Janis Joplin.
Janis Joplin also became friends with several blues musical artists, and by spending some time with them, she developed an interest in music.
Her classmates always used to look down on her and used to bully her. She also gained weight, and her body was full of acne.
Those bullies used to call her many insulting and racist names, like “pig,” “freak,” and some others. Although these names hurt her a lot, they couldn’t stop her.
In 1962, she joined the industry as a blues singer, and her career lasted for only eight. During those eight years, she gave out two solo studio albums.
Her first album was “I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!” which came out in 1969, and her second album was released in 1971, named “Pearl.”
Janis Joplin’s most famous song is “Piece Of My Heart.”
Lyn’s Instagram following: 568,000+
Spotify monthly listeners: 3.8 million+
SoundCloud following: Almost 9,000.
4 Jimi Hendrix
His birth name is Johnny Allen Hendrix. His birthday falls on the 27th of November, and his birth year is 1942.
Jimi Hendrixx was also a songwriter and musician. He is one of the top electric guitarists of his time and probably, of all time.
Although his career only lasted for seven years, his outstanding talent and commitment to his work made him one of the best blues singers we have.
Jimi Hendrix hails from Seattle, Washington, USA. His grandma was a famous dancer. He has both African-African and Irish ancestry.
1963 was the year he joined the music industry as a blues artist, and he released three albums in his lifetime. He died on the 18th of September 1970.
“Are You Experienced” was the first album released by this blues singer. “Axis: Bold As Love” and “Electric Ladyland” were his second and third studio albums.
One of his best songs is “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).”
Jimi Hendrix’s Instagram following: 786,000+
Spotify monthly listeners: 7.8 million+
SoundCloud following: 1.29 million+
5 Bessie Smith
Our “Empress Of The Blues” was just 43 years old at the time of her death. The period of the 1920s and 1930s is known as the prime of Bessie Smith.
She was born on the 15th of April 1894 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, U.S. She is among the first blues singers in the industry.
Many new musical artists still look up to her for inspiration. And the interesting thing is that her early life is more inspiring than her actual career.
Bessie Smith had to go through the tragedy of her parent’s death when she was a toddler; thus, she and her five or six other siblings were orphaned.
They had to perform on the streets to make ends meet. Initially, she began working with Columbia Records, and she also signed a deal with Okeh Records later.
Bessie Smith became a blues singer in 1912, but she couldn’t give a complete album during her career. However, in 1991, “The Complete Recordings (Vol. 1)” was released, which consisted of many of the songs sung by Bessie Smith.
“Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” is considered to be her best song.
Bessie Smith’s Instagram following: No official Instagram account.
Spotify monthly listeners: 125,000+
SoundCloud following: 460+
6 Howlin’ Wolf
His complete name is Chester Arthur Burnett. Although he died 45 years ago, he is still remembered as one of the top musical artists.
Howlin’ Wolf’s birth date is the 10th of June 1910, and he was born in White Station, Mississippi, USA. However, he was born in Mississippi; he went to Chicago.
Chester began his musical career in Chicago and became a Chicago blues singer in 1930. He had such a tall height, and he was also overweight and often used to attract a lot of criticism and bullying.
Arthur’s folks got divorced when he was an infant. At the beginning of his musical career, he encountered the famous blues musician Charley Patton.
He decided to enter the industry, and in 1959, he released “Moanin’ in the Moonlight,” which was his 1st album.
Burnett’s most famous song is considered to be “How Many More Years.”
Howlin’ Wolf’s Instagram following: No official Instagram account.
Spotify monthly listeners: 800,000+
SoundCloud following: 1,200+
7 Buddy Guy
Buddy Guy was born on the 30th of July 1936 in Lettsworth, Louisiana, USA. You can also call him George Guy, which is also his complete/birth name.
As of May 2022, he is 85 years old, and he is among the oldest blues singers/musicians of modern times.
His mom & dad were tenant farmers, and he also used to work with them to earn a little money. Besides this, he grew interested in playing guitar.
That is why he is an expert guitarist and songwriter, needless to say, a great blues singer. It has been more than six decades since he has been in the industry as an artist.
He began doing this in 1953 and is still active. “I Left My Blues in San Francisco” was his 1st studio album.
“Tramp” is said to be his most famous song.
Buddy Guy’s Instagram following: 188,000+
Spotify monthly listeners: Almost 1 million.
SoundCloud following: 100+
8 Nina Simone
Nina Simone was a famous blues singer of her time. Not only she was a great singer but also a civil rights activist.
Eunice Kathleen Waymon is her birth name. She was born on the 21st of February 1933 in Tryon, North Carolina, USA.
Nina Simone’s music styles consisted of jazz, blues, pop, gospel, folk, and classical. She had seven other siblings. At first, she was interested in becoming a pianist.
Her family was a poor one and didn’t have a lot of resources to support Nina Simone’s passion, but passion always has a way.
She learned to play piano and began playing it in church, and gained the attention of many She joined the industry in 1954, and five years later, he gave out his debut album, named “Little Girl Blue,” in 1959
Her last album was “A Single Woman,” which was released in 1993. She has many albums and songs during her career.
Nina Simone died on the 21st of April 2003 in Carry-le-Rouet, France. Among many songs, the most famous song is “I Loves You Porgy.”
Nina Simone’s Instagram following: 110,000+
Spotify monthly listeners: 6.4 million+
SoundCloud following: 25,000+
9 Robert Johnson
Robert Johnson’s complete name is Robert Leroy Johnson. He joined the industry as a blues singer in 1929 and stayed in the industry for nine years.
He was born on the 8th of May 1911 in Hazlehurst, Mississippi, USA. He was born to an upper-middle-class family, and they were pretty well off.
Robert Johnson’s dad had some ongoing disputes with a mob; thus, he had to leave Hazlehurst with his family. They went to Memphis, Tennessee.
He began taking classes in maths, arithmetics, and, yes, music. He officially became a blues singer in 1929.
However, he died in 1938, but his first album was released in 1996. The album was “Love In Vain.”
Robert Jonhson’s Instagram following: No official Instagram account.
Spotify monthly listeners: 280,000+
SoundCloud following: No official SoundCloud account.
10 Otis Redding
Otis Redding is often regarded as one of THE greatest blues singers in history. His birthday falls on the 9th of September, and his birth is 1941.
Otis Redding, or, should I say, the “King Of Soul,” was 26 years old when he died. Her death date is the 10th of December 1967.
His complete name is Otis Ray Redding Jr. You can also call him “The Big O.” His birthplace is Dawson, Georgia, USA, but his folks went to Macon, Georgia.
They didn’t have many resources, and it was essential for him to work and make ends meet for his family. That is why he left school at a young age.
Otis Redding’s musical career lasted only nine years (from 1958 to 1967). “Pain In My Heart” was his debut album, which came out in 1964.
And “King & Queen” was the last album given out by Otis Redding in 1967. He left this world on the 10th of December 1967 in Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
“Try A Little Tenderness” is considered to be his most famous song.
Otis Redding’s Instagram following: 73,500+
Spotify monthly listeners: 6.2 million+
SoundCloud following: 8,400+
11 Muddy Waters
Muddy Waters was born in April, and he also died in April, exactly 70 years apart. His birth date is the 4th of April 1913, and his death date is the 30th of April 1983.
His complete name is McKinley Morganfield. He joined the industry in 1941, right when World War 2 was in its initial phases.
You can also call him the “father of modern Chicago blues.” His hometown is Issaquena County, Mississippi, USA.
Muddy Waters started doing this when he was in his teens by playing guitar. During his career, he worked with four music labels.
Those four labels are Aristocrat Records, Columbia Records, Blue Sky Records, and Tempo-Tone Parkway Records.
His first studio album was “Muddy Waters Sings “Big Bill,” which came out in 1960. His most famous song is “Hoochie Coochie Man.”
Muddy Water’s Instagram following: 58,600+
Spotify monthly listeners: 1.3 million+
SoundCloud following: 4,200+
12 Billie Holiday
This blues singer gave out his first-ever studio album in 1952, named “Billie Holiday Sings,” by working with Clef Records.
He married thrice during his lifetime. First, he married Jimmy Monroe in 1941, and they got divorced in 1947.
Secondly, he married Joe Guy in 1951, and they also got divorced in 1957; and lastly, this blues singer tied the knot with Louis McKay in 1957, and two years later, he died in 1959.
His complete name is Eleanora Fagan. His birth date is the 7th of April 1915, and his birthplace is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
During his career, he won Grammy Awards. He was 44 years old at the time of his death. You can also call him Lady Day.
“God Bless The Child” is his most famous song.
Billie Holiday’s Instagram following: 31,600+
Spotify monthly listeners: 2.9 million+
SoundCloud following: 7,200+
13 Mamie Smith
Her birth name is Mamie Robinson. Besides being a blues singer, she was also a vaudeville artist. Her age was 55 years old when she died.
She was born on the 26th of May 1891 in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. Mamie Smith started doing this when she was ten years old.
Mamie Smith gave out her 1st song, “That Thing Called Love,” in 1920 while working with Okeh Records.
“Crazy Blues” was her most famous song.
Mamie Smith’s Instagram following: No official Instagram account.
Spotify monthly listeners: 29,500+
SoundCloud following: 10+
14 Etta James
Etta James was a famous songwriter and blues singer. She was born on the 25th of January 1938 in Los Angeles, California, USA.
She was 73 years old when she died on the 20th of January 2012 in Riversdale, California, USA. Her birth name was Jamesetta Hawkins.
Etta James had to go through a lot during her career, as she fell victim to physical abuse and heroin addiction, and she was also incarcerated.
She was a decorated blues singer, as she won six Grammys and 17 Blues Music Awards. “At Last!” was her first album, which was released in 1960.
Her most famous song is “Wallflower.”
Etta James’ Instagram following: 23,200+
Spotify monthly listeners: 5.5 million+
SoundCloud following: 6,700+
15 Ma Rainey
And last but not least, I present to you Ma Rainey, whose real name is Gertrude Pridgett. She was born on the 26th of April 1886 in Columbus, Georgia, USA.
However, it is not completely confirmed whether she was born in 1886 or not. But, the majority believes that 1886 is her actual birth year.
And it is also not confirmed whether she was born in Georgia or not because some sources say that she was born in Alabama.
During her career, she worked with Paramount Records. Her musical career lasted for about 40 years, and during that time, she did many shows and released several songs.
On the 22nd of December 1939, she suffered a heart attack, which eventually killed her. Her most famous song is “Moonshine Blues.”
Ma Rainey’s Instagram following: 16,900+
Spotify monthly listeners: 35,700+
SoundCloud following: 80+
I have descriptively talked about some of the best blues singers who left this world a long time ago but are still remembered for their work.
Among them, my favorite blues singer was B.B. King. Let me know in the comments about your favorite singer. Thanks.