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Chicago blues is a form of blues music developed in Chicago, Illinois. It is based on earlier blues idioms, such as Delta blues, but performed in an urban style. It developed alongside the Great Migration of the first half of the twentieth century. Key features that distinguish Chicago blues from the earlier traditions, such as the Delta blues, is the prominent use of electrified instruments, especially the electric guitar, and especially the use of electronic effects such as distortion and overdrive.
Muddy Waters, a colleague of Delta blues musicians Son House and Robert Johnson, migrated to Chicago in 1943, joining the established Big Bill Broonzy, where they developed a distinctive style of blues music. Joined by artists such as Willie Dixon, Howlin' Wolf, and John Lee Hooker, Chicago Blues reached an international audience by the late 1950s and early 1960s, directly influencing not only the development of early rock and roll musicians such as Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, but also reaching across the Atlantic to influence both British blues and early hard rock acts such as Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin. Prominent record labels such as Vee-Jay Records and Chess Records helped promote and spread the style. The Chicago Blues Festival has been held annually since 1984, on the anniversary of Muddy Waters death, as a means of preserving and promoting Chicago Blues.