->''The blues is a low-down, aching chill; if you ain't never had 'em, honey, I hope you never will.''
-->--'''Son House'''

Blues, aka El Big Grandaddy of RockAndRoll, is a term used to denote a musical genre, but it has become slightly genericized and it can also be used to describe musical works that ''don't'' belong to that genre but evoke aspects of it.

ToMakeALongStoryShort: The blues was largely [[TropeMakers created]] by African-American communities in the DeepSouth, following [[UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar emancipation]]. The blues evolved from musical styles specific to those communities, such as spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts, and chants, by shifting the focus from the group to the individual. The first published blues song was "Dallas Blues" by Hart Wand, in 1912, although there are reportedly older songs. The genre then went on to split into many, ''many'' subgenres according to location, giving rise to:

* Country blues
* Urban blues
* Piedmont blues (relying on ragtime-based fingerpicking techniques)
* Memphis blues (much more danceable, influenced by jug bands)
* Boogie-woogie

and others.

While "blues" originally referred to any and all secular music made by black Americans, it eventually became a [[StrictlyFormula heavily codified]] genre, largely thanks to TropeCodifier Music/RobertJohnson. Some elements which you'll find in most blues songs are:
* The twelve-bar chord progression
* Licks and solos in the pentatonic scale, with heavy use of "blue notes" (the flattened third, fifth and seventh of the associated major scale)
* "Shuffle" or "swing" rhythm rather than "straight" rhythm (explained in [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pW6cL7jMhJ0 this video]])
* Lines of lyrics that are repeated twice (often with a 'you know' or 'oh, Lord!' thrown in the second time), then followed by another line which rhymes with it and isn't repeated
* Lyrics about lost love, poverty, and "hard times" in general, often full of StockPhrases like 'woke up this morning' or 'wring my hands and cry'.

The most important development in the genre was the appearance of electrified blues in TheFifties, with its stronghold in Chicago. Electric blues, as represented by Music/MuddyWaters, Howlin' Wolf, Willie Dixon and others, was one of the first genres to adopt electric guitars and the classic guitar-bass-drums lineup, paving the way for the future appearance of RockAndRoll. {{Jazz}} is another genre which developed out of the blues. In fact, most popular music as we know it today -- from {{Soul}} and {{Funk}} to HeavyMetal -- ultimately derives from the blues, the exception being ElectronicMusic. As Willie Dixon put it, "The blues is the roots, the rest is the fruits."

Another form of the genre appeared in TheSixties - BluesRock.
!!Blues performers:

* Music/BarbecueBob
* Music/BlindBlake (a hugely influential ragtime guitarist)[[note]]Many early bluesmen were indeed blind. It may not make playing the instrument particularly easy, but back then it was one of the few jobs they could do.[[/note]]
* Music/BlindBoyFuller (the first really successful acoustic bluesman)
* Music/EricClapton[[note]]Also see Music/{{Cream}}, Music/TheYardbirds, and Music/DerekAndTheDominos[[/note]] - Guitarist who earned the nickname "God" in TheSixties, and is still considered one of the best guitarists in rock. His solo material starting in TheSeventies is way lower on the MohsScaleOfRockAndMetalHardness.
** ''Music/FromTheCradle'' was Clapton's first true, grits and all blues album. He did another one in 2004, ''Me and [[Music/RobertJohnson Mr. Johnson]]'' as a tribute to the man (see below).
* Music/RebeccaFerguson: Not to be confused by the [[Creator/RebeccaFerguson actress]] of the [[NamesTheSame same name.]]
* Music/ReverendGaryDavis (blind Baptist minister)
* Music/BoDiddley (a key player in the transition from electric blues to rock and roll)
* Music/WillieDixon (the greatest blues songwriter of all time, especially during the early electric era; wrote most of Howlin' Wolf's material)
* Music/MarianneFaithfull: From the late 1970s and 1980s on she reinvented herself as a jazz and blues singer.
* Music/BuddyGuy (the big blues guitarist of the '60s in America, as well as one of the pioneers of "heavy" electric blues guitar; had a big impact on Music/JimiHendrix and Music/EricClapton). He continues to tour to this day.
* Music/JeffHealey
* Music/JohnLeeHooker (one of the few to smoothly transfer his Delta style to the electric guitar; notable for his one-chord songs and his "talking" vocal style)
* Music/SonHouse (excellent early slide guitarist, though perhaps most famous for teaching Robert Johnson)
* Music/MississippiJohnHurt
** "[[Music/StaggerLee Stack O' Lee Blues]]"
* [[Music/HowlinWolf Howlin' Wolf]] (one of the many fine artists contracted to Chess back in the day, notable for a voice you could sand with; also notable for being smart and avoiding the common pitfalls that afflicted blues artists, namely alcohol abuse, gambling, sketchy girlfriends, and bad business decisions)
** ''Music/MoaninInTheMoonlight'' (1959)
** ''Music/TheHowlinWolfAlbum'' (1969)
* Music/{{Hozier}} (rare modern example)
* Music/ElmoreJames (one of the first great electric slide guitarists, popularised Robert Johnson's "Dust My Broom")
* Music/SkipJames
* Music/BlindLemonJefferson (another blind bluesman, apparently had a habit of wearing spectacles if the publicity photo is to be believed)
* Music/BlindWillieJohnson (also a blind Baptist minister)
* Music/LonnieJohnson (one of the first blues guitarists to go electric)
* Music/RobertJohnson (the guy who was rumoured to have sold his soul to the devil for talent, one of the most influential blues musicians ever)
** ''[[Music/RobertJohnsonTheCompleteRecordings The Complete Recordings]]'' (1990)
* Music/TommyJohnson (popularised the crossroads myth before Johnson; also, Canned Heat took their name from a song of his)
* Music/AlbertKing (another pioneer of heavy electric guitar; his solos were revolutionary for their day)
* [[Music/BBKing B.B. King]] (one of the finest blues guitarists ever)
* Music/LeadBelly (Music/{{Nirvana}}'s favourite)
* Music/MaRainey (a very early female blues singer, had a big influence on Bessie Smith and others)
* Music/JohnMayall: Founded the Bluesbreakers, the "finishing school for British blues guitarists". Nearly every British blues player you've ever heard of was a Bluesbreaker at some point.
* Music/BlindWillie [=McTell=] (one of the great blind bluesmen, notable for his distinctive voice and Piedmont style)
* Music/MemphisMinnie (the first great female blues guitarist...)
* Music/CharliePatton (arguably the first great recorded Delta bluesman)
* Music/BonnieRaitt
** ''Music/GiveItUp'' (1972)
* Music/JimmyReed (the most popular bluesman of the 50s, with one of the simplest and most easily approachable bodies of work in blues)
* Music/NinaSimone
* Music/BessieSmith (...and the first great (arguably) female blues singer)
* Music/TajMahal
* Music/LittleWalter (former Muddy Waters associate, one of the great harmonica players of the blues, and of ''all'' music)
* [[Music/BookerTWashington Booker T. Washington "Bukka" White]] (slide guitarist, cousin of B.B. King)
* Music/MuddyWaters (another Chess artist, had a massive influence on electric blues, perhaps most famous these days for the "Hoochie Coochie Man" riff)
** ''Music/TheAnthology19471972'' (2000).
* Music/JohnnyGuitarWatson: Best known for "Space Guitar", "Gangster Of Love" and "A Real Mother For Ya".
* Music/JohnZorn
** ''Music/{{Spillane}}'' (1987)
* Music/JimmieRodgers definitely incorporated blues in his country music style