Music

The Best Musical Artists From Illinois 

Ranker Music
Updated May 24, 2020 6.9k votes 299 voters 6k views 105 items

List Rules Only artists born or raised in Illinois or bands formed in Illinois.

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. 

list ordered by
1
Styx is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois

Albums: The Grand Illusion, Paradise Theatre, Pieces of Eight, Kilroy Was Here, Cyclorama, + more

Styx is an American rock band from Chicago that formed in 1972 and became famous for its albums released in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They are best known for melding hard rock guitar ...more

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#4 of 419 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #187 of 2,044 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #59 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

2
The Squids is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Darby added
The Squids were a Chicago-based punk band that was created by Chicago born singer/songwriter Joey Spatafora and William LaTour also known as LaTour. The Squids broke up in 2005. and toured and ...more
3
Cheap Trick is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois

Albums: Cheap Trick at Budokan, In Color, Dream Police, Cheap Trick, The Doctor, + more

Cheap Trick is an American rock band from Rockford, Illinois, formed in 1973. The band's classic lineup consisted of vocalist Robin Zander, guitarist Rick Nielsen, bassist Tom Petersson, and ...more

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The Best Cheap Trick Albums of All Time #264 of 2,044 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #84 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

4
Chicago is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois

Albums: Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago II, Chicago Christmas: What's It Gonna Be, Santa?, Chicago IX: Chicago's Greatest Hits, + more

Chicago is an American rock band formed in 1967 in Chicago, Illinois, calling themselves the Chicago Transit Authority in 1968 before shortening the name in 1969. The self-described “rock and ...more

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#210 of 2,044 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #71 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands #26 of 314 The Greatest American Rock Bands

5
Veruca Salt is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois

Albums: Eight Arms to Hold You, American Thighs, Blow It out Your Ass It's Veruca Salt, Tonight and the Rest of My Life, Resolver, + more

Veruca Salt is an American alternative rock band founded in Chicago, Illinois, in 1993 by vocalist-guitarists Nina Gordon and Louise Post, drummer Jim Shapiro and bassist Steve Lack.

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#1,889 of 2,044 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #1,024 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #172 of 408 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '90s

6
Naked Raygun is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois

Albums: Jettison, All Rise, Throb Throb, Basement Screams, Last of the Demohicans, + more

Naked Raygun is an American punk rock/post-punk band formed in Chicago in 1980. Initially active until 1992, the band had several short-lived reunions afterwards and a full-time reformation in

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#1,791 of 2,044 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #1,237 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #112 of 390 The Best Punk Bands Of All Time

7
Urge Overkill is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois

Albums: Saturation, Exit the Dragon, The Supersonic Storybook, Americruiser, Rock & Roll Submarine, + more

Urge Overkill is an alternative rock band, formed in Chicago, United States, consisting of Nathan Katruud, who took the stage name Nash Kato, and Eddie "King" Roeser. They are widely ...more
8
Didjits is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois

Albums: Hey Judester, Fizzjob, Full Nelson Reilly, Que Sirhan Sirhan, Hornet Pinata, + more

The Didjits were an American punk rock band formed in Mattoon, Illinois in 1983, comprised Rick Sims on guitar/vocals, Doug Evans on bass, and Rick's brother Brad Sims, on drums. Didjits were ...more

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#1,515 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #119 of 119 The Best Musical Trios Of All-Time #8 of 17 The Best Bands from Illinois

9
The Smashing Pumpkins is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois

Albums: Siamese Dream, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Oceania, Gish, Adore, + more

The Smashing Pumpkins (or Smashing Pumpkins) are an American alternative rock band from Chicago, Illinois. Formed in 1988 by frontman Billy Corgan (lead vocals, guitar), D'arcy Wretzky (bass), ...more

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The Best Smashing Pumpkins Songs of All Time #81 of 419 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #106 of 2,044 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

10
Disturbed is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois

Albums: Ten Thousand Fists, Believe, The Sickness, Indestructible, Music as a Weapon II, + more

Disturbed is an American heavy metal band from Chicago, formed in 1994. The band includes vocalist David Draiman, guitarist/keyboardist Dan Donegan, bassist John Moyer and drummer Mike Wengren. ...more

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#906 of 2,044 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #368 of 466 The Best Current Pop Groups/Singers #391 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

11
REO Speedwagon is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois

Albums: Live: You Get What You Play For, Good Trouble, Can't Fight This Feeling, The Earth, a Small Man, + more

REO Speedwagon (originally styled as R.E.O. Speedwagon) is an American rock band from Champaign, Illinois. Formed in 1967, the band cultivated a following during the 1970s and achieved ...more

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The Best REO Speedwagon Albums of All Time #9 of 419 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #104 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

12
Ministry is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois

Albums: Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs, The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste, The Land of Rape and Honey, Animositisomina, Houses of the Molé, + more

Ministry is an American industrial metal band founded by lead singer Al Jourgensen in 1981. Originally a new wave synthpop outfit, Ministry changed its style to industrial metal in the ...more

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#216 of 419 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #804 of 2,044 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #465 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

13
Survivor is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois

Albums: Eye of the Tiger, Reach, Survivor, Vital Signs, When Seconds Count, + more

Survivor is an American rock band formed in Chicago in 1978 by Jim Peterik and Frankie Sullivan. The band achieved its greatest success in the 1980s, producing many charting singles, especially ...more

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#1,033 of 2,044 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #221 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands #67 of 466 The Best Current Pop Groups/Singers

14
Buddy Guy is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Genre: Chicago blues, Electric blues & Blues; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Damn Right, I've Got the Blues, A Man & the Blues, Sweet Tea, Bring 'Em In, + more

George "Buddy" Guy (born July 30, 1936) is an American blues guitarist and singer. He is an exponent of Chicago blues and has influenced eminent guitarists including Eric Clapton, Jimi ...more

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The Best Buddy Guy Albums of All Time #358 of 1,043 The Best Singers of All Time #1,053 of 2,044 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

15
The Emotions is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois

Albums: So I Can Love You, Flowers, Rejoice, Best of My Love: The Best of the Emotions, Untouched, + more

The Emotions are an American female Soul/R&B singing group from Chicago, Illinois, originally consisting of three sisters; Wanda Hutchinson, Shelia Hutchinson and Jeanette Hutchinson. The ...more

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#39 of 100 The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time #5 of 100 The Best Sister Bands & Musical Groups, Ranked #37 of 152 The Best Disco Bands/Artists

16
Local H is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Local H

Albums: Pack Up the Cats, The '92 Demos, Half-Life EP, Twelve Angry Months, As Good as Dead, + more

Local H is an American rock band originally formed by guitarist and vocalist Scott Lucas, bassist Matt Garcia, drummer Joe Daniels, and lead guitarist John Sparkman in Zion, Illinois in 1990. ...more

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The Best Local H Albums of All Time #1,879 of 2,044 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #335 of 408 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '90s

17
James Young is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Genre: Progressive rock and Hard rock; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: City Slicker, Out on a Day Pass, Raised by Wolves

James Vincent Young (born November 14, 1949) is a guitarist, singer and songwriter who is best known for playing lead guitar in the American rock band, Styx. Young began playing keyboard and ...more

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#326 of 639 The Greatest Guitarists Of All Time #148 of 636 The Greatest Lead Guitarists Of All Time

18
The Jesus Lizard is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois

Albums: Liar, Goat, Pure, Puss/Oh, the Guilt, + more

The Jesus Lizard was an American rock band formed in 1987 in Austin, Texas, United States. They were "a leading noise rock band in the American independent underground…[who] turned out a ...more

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#1,146 of 2,044 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #1,183 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #131 of 139 Bands Or Artists With Five Great Albums

19
Curtis Mayfield is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Genre: Psychedelic soul, Chicago soul & Rhythm and blues; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Superfly, Curtis, The Anthology: 1961-1977, Curtis/Live!, Roots, + more

Curtis Lee Mayfield (June 3, 1942 – December 26, 1999) was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and record producer, and one of the most influential musicians behind soul and politically ...more

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The Best Curtis Mayfield Albums of All Time #261 of 1,043 The Best Singers of All Time #249 of 2,044 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

20
Ray Manzarek is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Genre: Blues-rock, Rock music & Jazz fusion; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: The Golden Scarab, Carmina Burana (Ray Manzarek), The Whole Thing Started With Rock & Roll Now It's Out of Control, The Doors Myth And Reality, Bleeding Paradise, + more

Raymond Daniel Manzarek Jr. (né Manczarek; February 12, 1939 – May 20, 2013) was an American musician, singer, producer, film director, and author, best known as a member of The Doors ...more

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#353 of 668 The Best Rock Vocalists #88 of 200 Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely #208 of 527 Which Artist Would You Bring Back From The Dead To Write One More Song?

21
Plain White T's is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois

Albums: Stop, All That We Needed, Every Second Counts, Come On Over, Hey There Delilah, + more

Plain White T's is an American pop punk band from Lombard, Illinois formed in 1997 by high school friends Tom Higgenson, Dave Tirio, Ken Fletcher and Steve Mast. The group had a mostly ...more

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The Best Plain White T's Albums, Ranked #1,343 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #9 of 28 The Best Bands with White in the Name

22
Miles Davis is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Genre: Jazz rap, Avant-garde jazz & Jazz-funk; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Bitches Brew, Kind of Blue, Agharta, Birth of the Cool, Sketches of Spain, + more

Miles Dewey Davis III (May 26, 1926 – September 28, 1991) was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. He is among the most influential and acclaimed figures in the history of jazz ...more

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The Best Miles Davis Albums of All Time #125 of 2,044 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #153 of 314 The Greatest American Rock Bands

23
Sam Cooke is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Genre: Pop music, Rhythm and blues & Jazz; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Night Beat, Shake, Touch the Hem of His Garment: 23 Gospel Gems, Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963, + more

Samuel Cook (January 22, 1931 – December 11, 1964), known professionally as Sam Cooke, was an American singer, songwriter, civil-rights activist and entrepreneur. Influential as both a singer ...more

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Rising Soul Singer Sam Cooke Perished Under Mysterious Circumstances In 1964 And The Case Is Still Unsolved #50 of 668 The Best Rock Vocalists #439 of 1,043 The Best Singers of All Time

24
Burl Ives is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois

Albums: Have a Holly Jolly Christmas, Christmas at the White House, Christmas by the Bay, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Christmas Day in the Morning, + more

Burl Icle Ivanhoe Ives (June 14, 1909 – April 14, 1995) was an American singer and actor of stage, screen, radio and television. Ives began as an itinerant singer and banjoist, and launched his ...more

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#129 of 527 Which Artist Would You Bring Back From The Dead To Write One More Song? #486 of 2,004 The Greatest Actors & Actresses in Entertainment History #97 of 165 The Greatest Western Movie Stars

25
Muddy Waters is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Genre: Blues-rock, Chicago blues & Rock music; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Anthology, Super Blues, Fathers and Sons, The Father of Chicago Blues, Muddy 'Mississippi' Waters Live, + more

McKinley Morganfield (April 4, 1913 – April 30, 1983), known professionally as Muddy Waters, was an American blues singer-songwriter and musician who is often cited as the "father of modern ...more

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The Best Muddy Waters Albums of All Time #139 of 668 The Best Rock Vocalists #606 of 1,043 The Best Singers of All Time