583 voters

The Best Musical Artists From Illinois

Updated May 24, 2020 14.6k votes 583 voters 13.9k views105 items

List RulesOnly 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. 

  • 1


    Pop music, Rock music

    AlbumsThe Grand Illusion, Paradise Theatre, Pieces of Eight, Kilroy Was Here, Cyclorama

    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 balanced...  more

    More Styx 

    #60 of 251 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands#127 of 392 The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time

  • 2

    The Squids

    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

    REO Speedwagon

    Rock music, Pop rock

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

    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 significant...  more

    More REO Speedwagon 

    The Best REO Speedwagon Albums of All Time#226 of 390 The Best Pop Rock Bands & Artists

  • 4

    Cheap Trick

    Pop punk, Glam metal

    AlbumsCheap Trick at Budokan, In Color, Dream Police, Cheap Trick, The Doctor

    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 drummer...  more

    More Cheap Trick 

    The Best Cheap Trick Albums of All Time#80 of 265 Rank the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame Inductees

  • 5


    Ballad, Ska

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

    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 roll...  more

    More Chicago 

    #6 of 213 The Top Pop Artists of the 1960s#2 of 54 The Best Bands Named After Cities

  • 6

    Plain White T's

    Pop punk, Anti-folk

    AlbumsStop, All That We Needed, Every Second Counts, Come On Over, Hey There Delilah

    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 underground...  more
  • 7

    The Smashing Pumpkins

    Shoegazing, Gothic rock

    AlbumsSiamese Dream, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Oceania, Gish, Adore

    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), James...  more

    More The Smashing Pumpkins 

    The Best Smashing Pumpkins Songs of All Time#6 of 179 The Best Bands That Are Named After Foods

  • 8


    Melodic Rock, Rock music

    AlbumsEye of the Tiger, Reach, Survivor, Vital Signs, When Seconds Count

    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 in...  more

    More Survivor 

    #85 of 465 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '80s#56 of 95 The Best Glam Metal Bands

  • 9

    The Jesus Lizard

    Noise rock, Rock music

    AlbumsLiar, Goat, Pure, Puss/Oh, the Guilt

    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 series of...  more
  • 10
    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 own...  more
  • 11

    Veruca Salt

    Grunge, Power pop

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

    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....  more

    More Veruca Salt 

    #34 of 115 The Greatest Chick Rock Bands Ever#121 of 151 The Best Female Rock Singers

  • 12


    Nu metal, Rock music

    AlbumsTen Thousand Fists, Believe, The Sickness, Indestructible, Music as a Weapon II

    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. They...  more

    More Disturbed 

    #971 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time#372 of 1,681 The Best Rock Bands Of All Time

  • 13

    Naked Raygun

    Punk rock, Post-hardcore

    AlbumsJettison, All Rise, Throb Throb, Basement Screams, Last of the Demohicans

    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 2006....  more

    More Naked Raygun 

    #110 of 327 The Best Punk Bands Of All Time#12 of 44 Punk Bands with the Best Lyrics

  • 14

    Urge Overkill

    Alternative rock

    AlbumsSaturation, Exit the Dragon, The Supersonic Storybook, Americruiser, Rock & Roll Submarine

    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 known for their...  more
  • 15

    Ray Manzarek

    Blues-rock, Rock music

    AlbumsThe 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

    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 from 1965 to...  more
  • 16


    Punk rock

    AlbumsHey Judester, Fizzjob, Full Nelson Reilly, Que Sirhan Sirhan, Hornet Pinata

    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 known...  more

    More Didjits 

    #109 of 109 The Best Musical Trios Of All-Time#8 of 17 The Best Bands from Illinois

  • 17

    Local H

    Experimental rock, Grunge

    AlbumsPack Up the Cats, The '92 Demos, Half-Life EP, Twelve Angry Months, As Good as Dead

    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. The...  more
  • 18

    The Emotions

    Disco, Rhythm and blues

    AlbumsSo I Can Love You, Flowers, Rejoice, Best of My Love: The Best of the Emotions, Untouched

    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 sisters are...  more

    More The Emotions 

    #43 of 100 The Greatest Motown Artists Of All Time#6 of 101 The Best Sister Bands & Musical Groups, Ranked

  • 19

    Minnie Riperton

    Pop music, Rock music

    AlbumsAdventures in Paradise, Come to My Garden, Her Chess Years (feat. The Gems & Rotary Connection), Stay in Love, Minnie

    Minnie Julia Riperton-Rudolph (November 8, 1947 – July 12, 1979), was an American singer-songwriter best known for her 1975 single "Lovin' You" and her five-octave coloratura soprano range. She is...  more

    More Minnie Riperton 

    #98 of 500 The Best Female Vocalists Ever#36 of 152 The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40

  • 20


    Doom metal, New Wave

    AlbumsPsalm 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

    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 mid-1980s....  more

    More Ministry 

    #248 of 361 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame#251 of 544 The Greatest Live Bands of All Time

  • 21

    Buddy Guy

    Chicago blues, Electric blues

    AlbumsDamn Right, I've Got the Blues, A Man & the Blues, Sweet Tea, Bring 'Em In

    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 Hendrix, Jimmy...  more

    More Buddy Guy 

    The Best Buddy Guy Albums of All Time#30 of 100 Rolling Stone's Top 100 Guitarists of All Time

  • 22


    Rock music, Shock rock

    AlbumsWitchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls, Coven, Blood on the Snow, Metal Goth Queen - Out of the Vault

    Coven is an American metal band formed in the late 1960s, composed of vocalist Jinx Dawson, bassist Oz Osborne, Chris Neilsen on guitar, Rick Durrett and later John Hobbs on keyboards, and drummer...  more

    More Coven 

    #212 of 267 The Greatest American Rock Bands#108 of 221 Bands/Artists With Only One Great Album

  • 23

    Muddy Waters

    Blues-rock, Chicago blues

    AlbumsAnthology, Super Blues, Fathers and Sons, The Father of Chicago Blues, Muddy 'Mississippi' Waters Live

    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 Chicago...  more

    More Muddy Waters 

    The Best Muddy Waters Albums of All Time#499 of 656 The Best Singers Of All Time

  • 24

    Benny Goodman

    Swing music, Big band

    AlbumsThe Famous Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert 1938, 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert, B.G. in Hi-Fi, Part One, Giants of Jazz

    Benjamin David Goodman (May 30, 1909 – June 13, 1986) was an American jazz clarinetist and bandleader known as the "King of Swing".In the mid-1930s, Goodman led one of the most popular musical groups...  more

    More Benny Goodman 

    The Best Benny Goodman Albums of All Time#785 of 2,753 The Most Influential People of All Time

  • 25

    Sam Cooke

    Pop music, Rhythm and blues

    AlbumsNight Beat, Shake, Touch the Hem of His Garment: 23 Gospel Gems, Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963

    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 and...  more

    More Sam Cooke 

    Rising Soul Singer Sam Cooke Perished Under Mysterious Circumstances In 1964 And The Case Is Still Unsolved#48 of 488 The Best Rock Vocalists

not on the list?add item #106add new item
List Rules: Only artists born or raised in Illinois or bands formed in Illinois.