Chicago was the birthplace of the electric, urban blues which became known as "rhythm and blues" or just plain "Chicago blues"; it was the precursor of rock 'n' roll. The blues may have come from the US south with the "great migration" of African-Americans that began in 1920 and gathered pace during and immediately after World War II, but it was transformed in the late 40s and early 50s into an electrified dance music in the north by Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Bo Diddley, Little Walter and their contemporaries, as well as by new labels like Chess Records.
One of the great R&B musicians from Chicago’s South Side, James Cotton.
And much of this music-making happened on the streets and in the clubs of Chicago's South Side, an area that became home to many African-Americans who were born in the far south. You can trace the history of this influential cultural crucible through the music or, as I recently did, through the biography of a musician like Howling Wolf which gives some perspective on the era, albeit related to the career of a single musician.
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