Music

The Best Musical Artists From Illinois  

Ranker Music
3.7k votes 137 voters 1.7k views 103 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
Pop music, Rock music, Heavy metal
Styx is an American rock band from Chicago that became famous for its albums from the mid-1970s and early 1980s. They are best known for melding the style of pop rock with the power of hard-rock ...more
2
The Squids is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Darby added Comedy, Punk rock
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
Veruca Salt is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Grunge, Power pop, Post-grunge
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.
4
The Jesus Lizard is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Noise rock, Rock music, Grunge
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
5
Urge Overkill is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Alternative rock
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
6
Naked Raygun is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Punk rock, Post-hardcore, Hardcore punk
Naked Raygun is a Chicago-based punk rock/post-punk group. Initially active from 1980 to 1992, Naked Raygun had several short-lived reunions afterwards and a full-time reformation in 2006.
7
Didjits is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Punk rock
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
8
Local H is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Experimental rock, Grunge, Post-grunge
Local H is an American alternative rock duo formed by guitarist/vocalist Scott Lucas and drummer Joe Daniels in Zion, Illinois, in 1990. The members all met in high school in 1987 and founded ...more
9
REO Speedwagon is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Rock music, Pop rock, Soft rock
REO Speedwagon is an American rock band. Formed in 1967, the band cultivated a following during the 1970s and achieved significant commercial success throughout the 1980s. Hi Infidelity ...more
10
Cheap Trick is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Pop punk, Glam metal, New Wave
Cheap Trick is an American rock band from Rockford, Illinois, formed in 1973. As of 2010, the band currently consists of Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson and Daxx Nielsen, who replaced ...more
11
Chicago is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Ballad, Ska, Rock music
Chicago is an American rock band formed in 1967 in Chicago, Illinois. The self-described "rock and roll band with horns" began as a politically charged, sometimes experimental, rock ...more
12
The Smashing Pumpkins is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Shoegazing, Gothic rock, Alternative rock
The Smashing Pumpkins are an American alternative rock band from Chicago, Illinois, formed in 1988. Formed by frontman Billy Corgan and James Iha, the band included Jimmy Chamberlin and D'arcy ...more
13
Survivor is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Melodic Rock, Rock music, Pop rock
"Survivor" is an American rock band formed in Chicago in 1978 by Jim Peterik. The band achieved its greatest success in the 1980s with its arena rock sound, which garnered many ...more
14
Disturbed is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Nu metal, Rock music, Metalcore
Disturbed is a band from Chicago, Illinois. The band's members are vocalist David Draiman, guitarist Dan Donegan, bassist John Moyer, and drummer Mike Wengren. Former band members are bassist ...more
15
Ministry is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Doom metal, New Wave, Synthpop
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
16
Mudvayne is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Nu metal, Progressive metal, Groove metal
Mudvayne is an American heavy metal band known for its sonic experimentation, innovative album art, face and body paint, masks and uniforms. The band has sold over six million records worldwide, ...more
17
Burl Ives is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Burl Icle Ivanhoe Ives was an American actor, writer, and folk singer. As an actor, Ives's work included comedies, dramas, and voice work in theater, television, and motion pictures. Music ...more
18
Ray Manzarek is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Blues-rock, Rock music, Jazz fusion
Raymond Daniel Manczarek Jr., known as Ray Manzarek, was an American musician, singer, producer, film director, and author, best known as a founding member and keyboardist of The Doors from 1965 ...more
19
Plain White T's is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Pop punk, Anti-folk, Pop music
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
20
Tortoise is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Rock music, Experimental rock, Instrumental rock
Tortoise is an American post-rock band formed in Chicago, Illinois, in 1990.
21
Miles Davis is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Jazz rap, Avant-garde jazz, Jazz-funk
Miles Dewey Davis III was an American jazz musician, trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. Widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Miles Davis was, together ...more
22
Buddy Guy is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Chicago blues, Electric blues, Blues
George "Buddy" Guy is an American Chicago blues and electric blues guitarist and singer. He is an exponent of the Chicago blues and has influenced blues guitarists Jimi Hendrix, Eric ...more
23
James Young is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Progressive rock, Hard rock
James V. "J.Y." Young 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 piano at the age ...more
24
The Emotions is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Disco, Rhythm and blues, Soul music
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
25
The Buckinghams is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Musical Artists From Illinois
Sunshine pop, Rock and roll
In 1965, Dan Bellocs Holiday Ballroom in Chicagoregularly featured two popular groups with strong followings: The Pulsations and The Centuries. The Pulsations had two lead singers, George LeGros ...more