The Best Musical Artists From Illinois

Over 800 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Voting Rules
Only artists born or raised in Illinois or bands formed in Illinois.
Latest additions: The New Colony Six 60s pop band from Chicago
Most divisive: Disturbed

Here are the best artists and bands from Illinois. Illinois has a vast musical heritage, and much of it centers around Chicago. The most important contribution the city has made to the music industry is the development of electric blues music. This is affectionately referred to as Chicago-style blues. The city also played a vital role in the formation of jazz and house music. Modern R&B and hip hop would not be where they are today if it wasn't for the artists who came out of the state. It can be tough narrowing down the best musical artists from Illinois because there are so many to choose from. 

Hip hop fans know Chicago is where Kanye West grew up. It is the home of classic rock acts, such as REO Speedwagon, Styx, and Cheap Trick. It is also home to more modern rock. Fall Out Boy and Disturbed both came out of the Prairie State. From heavy metal to sunshine pop, there are plenty of venues around Illinois where acts can hone their craft and develop the skills necessary to tour around the globe. Which singers and bands are from Illinois? Other popular Illinois artists include Juice WRLD, Chance the Rapper, The Smashing Pumpkins, and of course, the rock band Chicago. 

Vote for your favorites on this list of famous Illinois musicians. It will not be difficult to find an artist you listen to all the time. 

Ranked by
  • The Smashing Pumpkins
    Shoegazing, Gothic rock, Alternative rock
    280 votes
    • Albums: Siamese Dream, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Oceania, Gish, Adore

    Hailing from Chicago, The Smashing Pumpkins have been a force in the alternative rock scene since their formation in 1988. Fronted by the enigmatic Billy Corgan, the band's distinctive sound, characterized by layers of guitars and introspective lyrics, garnered significant attention both critically and commercially. With iconic tracks like "Tonight, Tonight," "Bullet with Butterfly Wings," and "1979," The Smashing Pumpkins have etched their name in rock history as one of Illinois' finest musical exports.

  • Cheap Trick
    Pop punk, Glam metal, New Wave
    249 votes
    • Albums: Cheap Trick at Budokan, In Color, Dream Police, Cheap Trick, The Doctor

    Rockford's Cheap Trick has been entertaining audiences with their flawless blend of power pop and hard rock since 1974. Known for their catchy melodies and energetic live performances, the band continues to display an unwavering commitment to their craft. Hits such as "Surrender," "Dream Police," and "I Want You to Want Me" exemplify their unique sound and have made Cheap Trick a staple in the world of rock music.

  • Styx
    Pop music, Rock music, Heavy metal
    287 votes
    • Albums: The Grand Illusion, Paradise Theatre, Pieces of Eight, Kilroy Was Here, Cyclorama

    Formed in 1972, Styx has solidified its place as one of the best musical artists from Illinois. With their unique blend of progressive rock, hard rock, and pop elements, this Chicago-based band has captured the hearts and ears of generations of fans. Their extensive arsenal of hit songs, such as "Come Sail Away," "Renegade," and "Mr. Roboto," showcases their diverse musical prowess and enduring appeal. Styx's enduring legacy is evident in their continued success as they continue to tour and release new music.

  • Chicago
    Ballad, Ska, Rock music
    245 votes
    • Albums: Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago II, Chicago Christmas: What's It Gonna Be, Santa?, Chicago IX: Chicago's Greatest Hits

    Since forming in 1967 as Chicago Transit Authority, this legendary group has become synonymous with classic American rock music infused with jazz elements. Known for creating some of the most memorable songs in popular music history, such as "Saturday in the Park" and "25 or 6 to 4," Chicago's dynamic sound and world-class musicianship have earned them a well-deserved place among Illinois' elite artists.

  • Miles Davis
    Jazz rap, Avant-garde jazz, Jazz-funk
    170 votes
    • Albums: Bitches Brew, Kind of Blue, Agharta, Birth of the Cool, Sketches of Spain

    Born in Alton and raised in East St. Louis, Miles Davis was a groundbreaking jazz musician who forever changed the face of music. As one of the most respected figures in jazz history, Davis was known for his remarkable ability to creatively evolve throughout his career continually. Notable works such as Kind of Blue and Bitches Brew showcase his immense talent and impact on the genre, solidifying him as a true Illinois luminary.

  • Muddy Waters
    Blues-rock, Chicago blues, Rock music
    162 votes
    • Albums: Anthology, Super Blues, Fathers and Sons, The Father of Chicago Blues, Muddy 'Mississippi' Waters Live

    One of the most influential blues musicians of all time, Muddy Waters emerged from the vibrant Chicago blues scene in the late 1940s. Born in Mississippi, Waters moved to Chicago to pursue his musical career, ultimately revolutionizing the blues with his pioneering electric guitar sound. His legend lives on through iconic recordings like "Rollin' Stone," "Mannish Boy," and "Hoochie Coochie Man."