Charley Patton (1929 photo portrait)Charley Patton (1929 photo portrait) Photo published by Paramount Records and the F. W. Boerner Company. Photographer uncredited and unknown., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Blues Music Quiz

How much do you know about Blues music?

Immerse yourself in the soulful rhythms and rich history of blues music with this quiz. From its deep roots in African-American history to its profound impact on modern music genres, the blues tells a story of emotion and resilience.

Test your knowledge on legendary blues artists, classic songs, and pivotal moments that shaped this timeless genre. Whether you're a blues aficionado or a curious newcomer, this quiz is your chance to experience the power and passion of the blues.

Let the music begin!

Start the Blues quiz

Questions and answers about Blues

  • Which musician is known as the "King of the Blues"?

    B.B. King is widely known as the "King of the Blues." Renowned for his expressive singing and guitar playing, King's style has influenced a vast number of musicians. His career spanned several decades, during which he became one of the most important names in blues music, known for hits like "The Thrill Is Gone" and "Lucille."

    • B.B. King
    • Muddy Waters
    • John Lee Hooker
    • Howlin' Wolf
  • What is the name of B.B. King's famous guitar?

    B.B. King's famous guitar is named "Lucille." The story of how his guitar got this name dates back to the winter of 1949, when King risked his life to save his guitar from a burning building. He later learned that the fire was caused by two men fighting over a woman named Lucille. He named his guitar after her as a reminder never to fight over a woman or run into a burning building.

    • Lucille
    • Rosie
    • Blackie
    • Trigger
  • What U.S. state is Robert Johnson associated with?

    Robert Johnson is closely associated with Mississippi. Often considered one of the greatest blues musicians ever, Johnson's music was heavily influenced by the Mississippi Delta region where he lived. His songs and guitar style are quintessential examples of the Delta blues genre, and his mysterious life and early death have added to his legendary status.

    • Mississippi
    • Louisiana
    • Texas
    • Illinois
  • Which city is known as the home of the blues?

    Memphis, Tennessee, is known as the home of the blues. Beale Street, a famous street in Memphis, is often referred to as the birthplace of the blues. The city played a pivotal role in the development of blues music, with many legendary musicians, including B.B. King and Muddy Waters, performing in its clubs and venues.

    • Memphis, Tennessee
    • New Orleans, Louisiana
    • Chicago, Illinois
    • Delta, Mississippi
  • Who originally sang "The Thrill is Gone"?

    "The Thrill Is Gone" was originally sung by Roy Hawkins in 1951. However, the song gained widespread fame and recognition through B.B. King's 1970 rendition, which has become the definitive version. King's interpretation of "The Thrill Is Gone" is celebrated for its soulful vocals and expressive guitar solos, making it a blues classic.

    • Roy Hawkins
    • B.B. King
    • Elmore James
    • Howlin' Wolf
  • Which Robert Johnson song is famed for its story of a demon hound chase?

    "Hellhound on My Trail" by Robert Johnson is a seminal piece in blues folklore. Known for its haunting narrative about being pursued by a demon hound, the song showcases Johnson's profound musical talent and storytelling prowess. Its chilling atmosphere and thought-provoking lyrics have made it a standout track in Johnson's repertoire and a classic in the blues genre.

    • Cross Road Blues
    • Preachin' Blues (Up Jumped the Devil)
    • Me and the Devil Blues
    • Hellhound on My Trail
  • Who is known as the "Empress of the Blues"?

    Bessie Smith is known as the "Empress of the Blues." Renowned for her powerful voice and emotional intensity, Smith was the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s. Her recordings and performances have been hugely influential, and she remains a seminal figure in the history of the blues genre.

    • Bessie Smith
    • Ma Rainey
    • Billie Holiday
    • Ella Fitzgerald
  • Which instrument is Muddy Waters famous for playing?

    Muddy Waters is famous for playing the electric guitar. Known for his deep, resonant voice and powerful slide guitar technique on the electric guitar, Waters was a major figure in the development of Chicago blues. His work laid the groundwork for the electric blues and rock and roll, influencing countless musicians.

    • Electric Guitar
    • Harmonica
    • Piano
    • Acoustic Guitar
  • In which city did the Electric Blues genre emerge?

    The Electric Blues genre emerged in Chicago, Illinois. During the mid-20th century, many blues musicians migrated to Chicago, where the urban environment influenced the evolution of their music. The use of electric guitars and other amplified instruments gave rise to a new, electrified sound, leading to the development of Chicago blues, a precursor to rock and roll.

    • Chicago, Illinois
    • Memphis, Tennessee
    • Detroit, Michigan
    • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • What folk blues musician called himself the king of the twelve-string guitar?

    Leadbelly, renowned for his powerful voice and mastery of the twelve-string guitar, popularized songs like 'Midnight Special' and 'Goodnight, Irene', and was known as the king of the twelve-string guitar.

    • Blind Willie McTell
    • Leadbelly
    • Mississippi John Hurt
    • Blind Blake
  • Who wrote "Hoochie Coochie Man"?

    "Hoochie Coochie Man" was written by Willie Dixon and originally performed by Muddy Waters. Released in 1954, this song is one of the classic Chicago blues songs, known for its distinctive guitar riff and powerful lyrics. Dixon's songwriting and Waters' performance combined to create a track that has become a blues standard.

    • Willie Dixon
    • Howlin' Wolf
    • John Lee Hooker
    • Muddy Waters
  • Name a blues song by John Lee Hooker.

    One of John Lee Hooker's famous blues songs is "Boom Boom." Released in 1962, this song is known for its catchy rhythm and has become one of Hooker's most popular and recognizable songs. The track showcases his unique style and has been covered by numerous artists, becoming a blues and rock standard.

    • Boom Boom
    • Crossroads
    • Mannish Boy
    • Sweet Home Chicago
  • What are "blue notes" in music theory?

    In music theory, "blue notes" are notes that are played or sung at a pitch that is slightly different from those in the standard major scale, typically for expressive purposes. These altered pitches are usually the third, fifth, and seventh notes of a scale. Their distinctive tuning, which often leans towards a lower pitch but is not exclusively so, is a defining characteristic of the blues genre. This unique sound contributes to the music’s sense of melancholy or longing.

    • Notes at an altered pitch for expression
    • Notes played with a slide
    • High-pitched end notes
    • Repeated notes in a riff
  • Who originally sang "I'd Rather Go Blind"?

    "I'd Rather Go Blind" was originally sung by Etta James. This soulful blues ballad, released in 1968, is one of her most famous songs and showcases her powerful and emotive vocal style. The song has been covered by numerous artists and remains a beloved classic in the blues and soul genres.

    • Etta James
    • Aretha Franklin
    • Koko Taylor
    • Billie Holiday
  • During which decade did the first recognized recordings of blues as a distinct genre occur?

    The blues genre, as we know it today, began to take shape in the realm of recorded music in the 1920s. This period was marked by Mamie Smith's "Crazy Blues," recorded on August 10, 1920, which is often cited as the first recording of blues in the genre’s now-classic style. While elements of blues music had been developing over time, it was in the 1920s that blues was firmly established as a distinct musical genre through recordings, significantly influencing its spread and evolution.

    • 1920s
    • 1910s
    • 1930s
    • 1940s
  • What is Willie Dixon renowned for in the blues genre?

    Willie Dixon is renowned as a prolific songwriter and producer in the blues genre. He wrote or co-wrote many classic blues songs, and his work has been performed by a variety of artists. Dixon's contributions to the genre were instrumental in shaping the sound of Chicago blues and popularizing the blues internationally.

    • Songwriting and producing
    • Guitar playing
    • Harmonica skills
    • Vocal performances
  • What defines the Mississippi Delta Blues style?

    The Mississippi Delta Blues style is characterized by its raw, emotional expression and typically features acoustic guitar play, often with sliding techniques like using a bottleneck or metal object. Originating from the Mississippi Delta region, this style is marked by strong, repetitive rhythms and a vocal-like quality in the guitar playing. The lyrics poignantly speak to the African American experience in the South.

    • Raw emotion and acoustic instruments
    • Electric guitar and harmonica
    • Big bands and brass sections
    • Complex chord progressions
  • Name a song by Son House.

    One famous song by Son House is "Death Letter Blues." This song, with its haunting lyrics and powerful performance, is considered one of the finest examples of Delta blues. Son House's emotive singing and masterful slide guitar work on this track have influenced countless blues musicians.

    • Death Letter Blues
    • Pride and Joy
    • The Sky Is Crying
    • Me and the Devil Blues
  • What differentiates "Chicago Blues"?

    Chicago Blues is differentiated by its use of electrically amplified instruments, particularly the electric guitar and harmonica. This style developed in the mid-20th century as African American musicians from the South migrated to Chicago. It typically features a full band, including bass, drums, and sometimes piano or saxophone, creating a more urban, electric sound compared to earlier, rural blues styles.

    • Electrically amplified instruments
    • Acoustic solo performances
    • Complex polyrhythms
    • Heavy use of piano
  • Who was the first African American woman to record a blues song?

    Mamie Smith holds the distinction of being the first African American woman to record a blues song. Her groundbreaking recording of "Crazy Blues" in 1920 not only paved the way for other black female blues artists but also marked a significant milestone in the music industry, with the blues genre gaining wider popularity and commercial success.

    • Mamie Smith
    • Bessie Smith
    • Ma Rainey
    • Billie Holiday
  • What are the origins of the term "blues"?

    The term "blues" likely derives from "blue devils," meaning melancholy and sadness. It emerged in the African American communities in the Deep South of the United States at the end of the 19th century. The blues genre is characterized by its chord progressions, the use of blue notes, and its themes of sorrow, struggle, and the human experience.

    • Derived from "blue devils" for melancholy
    • Based on the color of the Mississippi River
    • Named after "blue" work songs of the South
    • From the term "blue" in jazz music
  • Name a blues song by Leadbelly.

    One of Leadbelly's famous blues songs is "Midnight Special." This traditional folk song, which he famously recorded, has been covered by many artists. Leadbelly's version is celebrated for its rhythmic guitar playing and soulful vocals, and the song has become a staple in American folk and blues music.

    • Midnight Special
    • Cross Road Blues
    • Boom Boom
    • Sweet Home Chicago
  • Who is known for the song "Sweet Home Chicago"?

    "Sweet Home Chicago" is a blues standard that has become closely associated with Robert Johnson, who recorded it in 1936. Though earlier versions of the song existed, Johnson's rendition has become the most famous, celebrating the city of Chicago as a promised land for African American musicians from the Mississippi Delta.

    • Robert Johnson
    • Muddy Waters
    • Buddy Guy
    • Howlin' Wolf
  • What's the difference between Delta and Chicago blues?

    The main difference between Delta and Chicago blues is their sound and instrumentation. Delta blues, originating in the Mississippi Delta, is acoustic, raw, and characterized by slide guitar and expressive vocals. Chicago blues, on the other hand, developed in the urban environment of Chicago and is known for its use of electrically amplified instruments, especially the electric guitar and harmonica, creating a fuller, band-based sound.

    • Acoustic and raw vs. electric and full-band
    • Focus on piano vs. guitar
    • Slower tempo vs. faster tempo
    • Instrumental vs. vocal focus
  • Name a song by Howlin' Wolf.

    One of Howlin' Wolf's famous songs is "Smokestack Lightnin'." This track, released in 1956, is one of his most enduring and influential songs. Characterized by its distinctive guitar riff and Howlin' Wolf's powerful voice, "Smokestack Lightnin'" is a classic of the Chicago blues style and has been covered by numerous artists.

    • Smokestack Lightnin'
    • Boom Boom
    • Hoochie Coochie Man
    • Midnight Special
  • What instrument is Little Walter known for?

    Little Walter is known for his virtuoso harmonica playing. He revolutionized the use of the harmonica in blues music, particularly with his innovative use of amplification and his ability to produce a wide range of sounds and effects on the instrument. Little Walter's style and techniques greatly influenced the role of the harmonica in blues and rock music.

    • Harmonica
    • Guitar
    • Piano
    • Drums
  • Who originally performed "Cross Road Blues"?

    "Cross Road Blues" was originally performed by Robert Johnson. Recorded in 1936, this song is one of Johnson's most famous recordings and a blues classic. The song's lyrics about a man standing at a crossroads have been interpreted in various ways, adding to the mystery and legend surrounding Johnson's life and music.

    • Robert Johnson
    • Muddy Waters
    • John Lee Hooker
    • B.B. King
  • What characterizes Piedmont Blues?

    Piedmont Blues is characterized by a unique fingerpicking guitar style, in which the thumb picks out the rhythm while the index finger plays melody lines. Originating in the Southeastern United States, particularly the Piedmont region, this style of blues often includes ragtime, country, and string band influences, and is generally more upbeat and danceable than Delta blues.

    • Unique fingerpicking guitar style
    • Use of electric guitar and harmonica
    • Slow, melancholic vocals
    • Large brass bands
  • Name the blues musician renowned as the "King of the Slide Guitar".

    Elmore James is renowned for his slide guitar playing in the blues genre. Known as the "King of the Slide Guitar," James' technique and intense style had a profound influence on the development of blues music. His most famous song, "Dust My Broom," features his powerful slide guitar work and is a staple of blues repertoire.

    • Elmore James
    • Muddy Waters
    • Robert Johnson
    • Duane Allman
  • Who was a major influence on British blues, notably inspiring the name of The Rolling Stones?

    Muddy Waters was a major influence on the British blues scene. When Waters toured Britain in the early 1960s, his electrified Chicago blues sound had a profound impact on British musicians. Bands like The Rolling Stones, named after one of Waters' songs, and artists like Eric Clapton were heavily influenced by his style, helping to spark the British blues boom.

    • Muddy Waters
    • Robert Johnson
    • Howlin' Wolf
    • John Lee Hooker
  • What's unique about Texas blues?

    Texas blues is unique for its integration of jazz and swing influences, and its smooth, polished style. This genre often features more versatile guitar techniques than Delta or Chicago blues, with a heavier emphasis on guitar solos. Artists like T-Bone Walker and Stevie Ray Vaughan epitomize Texas blues, known for their fluid, expressive guitar playing and incorporation of jazz elements.

    • Jazz and Swing influences, and a smooth guitar style
    • Heavy use of piano
    • Focus on acoustic and folk elements
    • Fast tempo and brass sections
  • Name a blues song by Elmore James.

    "Dust My Broom" is one of Elmore James' most famous blues songs. Known for its opening slide guitar riff, which James made famous, this song is a classic of the blues genre. James' passionate vocals and powerful guitar work have made "Dust My Broom" a staple in the blues repertoire.

    • Dust My Broom
    • The Sky Is Crying
    • Sweet Home Chicago
    • Crossroad Blues
  • What is "jump blues"?

    Jump blues is a style of blues music that is upbeat and heavily influenced by big band music. It's characterized by the use of saxophones and other brass instruments, a rhythm section that swings, and a more energetic, danceable feel compared to traditional blues. Artists like Louis Jordan were pioneers of the jump blues style in the 1940s.

    • Upbeat and big band influenced
    • Slow and melancholic with focus on vocals
    • Acoustic with a focus on fingerpicking
    • Electric with heavy guitar solos
  • Which influential blues and gospel musician, known for his fingerpicking guitar style and for blending blues with spirituals, recorded the album 'Harlem Street Singer'?

    Reverend Gary Davis, renowned for his exceptional fingerpicking guitar style, made significant contributions to both blues and gospel music. His album 'Harlem Street Singer' is a testament to his ability to blend these two genres seamlessly.

    • Blind Lemon Jefferson
    • Son House
    • Robert Johnson
    • Reverend Gary Davis
  • What year was "Texas Flood" by Stevie Ray Vaughan released?

    "Texas Flood" by Stevie Ray Vaughan was released in 1983. This album, Vaughan's debut, marked a revival of interest in the blues genre and showcased his extraordinary talent as a guitarist and vocalist. The title track, "Texas Flood," became one of his most famous songs and is a staple of blues-rock music.

    • 1983
    • 1981
    • 1985
    • 1980
  • What was Otis Rush's first recorded song?

    Otis Rush made a significant impact with his first recorded song, "I Can't Quit You Baby," released in 1956. This song is notable for its emotional depth and Rush's distinctive guitar style, marking a key moment in the Chicago blues tradition.

    • I Can't Quit You Baby
    • Crosscut Saw
    • All Your Love (I Miss Loving)
    • Double Trouble
  • Who performed "Boom Boom"?

    "Boom Boom" was performed by John Lee Hooker. Released in 1962, this song is one of Hooker's most popular and recognizable tunes. Known for its driving rhythm and Hooker's distinctive deep voice, "Boom Boom" has become a blues standard and has been covered by numerous artists across different genres.

    • John Lee Hooker
    • Muddy Waters
    • Howlin' Wolf
    • B.B. King
  • Which blues harmonica player is also recognized under the name Aleck "Rice" Miller?

    Sonny Boy Williamson II (Aleck "Rice" Miller) is another renowned blues harmonica player. Known for his expressive style and innovative techniques, Williamson's contributions to the harmonica have influenced countless blues musicians. His songs and performances are considered key elements of the Chicago blues style.

    • Sonny Boy Williamson II
    • James Cotton
    • Big Walter Horton
    • Junior Wells
  • Which 21st-century blues artist is known for blending traditional blues with rock influences and founding the "Keeping the Blues Alive Foundation"?

    Joe Bonamassa is a notable blues artist from the 21st century. Known for his virtuosic guitar skills and passionate performances, Bonamassa has played a significant role in keeping blues music alive and relevant in the modern era. His work blends traditional blues with rock influences, appealing to a wide range of music fans. Additionally, he founded the "Keeping the Blues Alive Foundation" to promote the heritage of the blues.

    • Joe Bonamassa
    • Eric Clapton
    • Buddy Guy
    • Robert Cray
  • Which pioneering blues musician, known for his high-pitched voice and intricate guitar playing, was one of the earliest and most influential rural blues singers?

    Blind Lemon Jefferson's high-pitched voice and complex guitar skills made him a standout artist in the early rural blues scene. His influence on the blues genre is profound, with classic hits that have inspired countless musicians.

    • Blind Willie Johnson
    • Son House
    • Blind Lemon Jefferson
    • Charley Patton
  • What's unique about New Orleans blues?

    New Orleans blues is unique for its fusion of traditional blues with the rich musical heritage of New Orleans, including jazz, R&B, and Creole influences. This style often features piano and brass instruments, creating a more rhythmic and horn-heavy sound compared to other blues subgenres. The incorporation of Mardi Gras and carnival rhythms adds a distinctive and lively character to the New Orleans blues sound.

    • Fusion with jazz, R&B, and Creole influences
    • Focus on solo acoustic guitar
    • Use of slide guitar and harmonica
    • Heavy emphasis on electric guitar solos
  • Which T-Bone Walker song is inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame as a "Classic of Blues Recording"?

    "Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday Is Just as Bad)" by T-Bone Walker, released in 1947, is not only one of his most well-known songs but also has been inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame as a "Classic of Blues Recording." This track is celebrated for its smooth vocal style and expressive guitar playing, and has become a blues standard, covered by numerous artists.

    • Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday Is Just as Bad)
    • T-Bone Shuffle
    • Mean Old World
    • West Side Baby
  • What is the significance of the 12-bar blues?

    The 12-bar blues is a chord progression that forms the basis of many blues songs. It's significant for its simple, repetitive structure, typically consisting of three chords arranged in a 12-bar pattern. This format has become a foundation of not only blues music but also rock 'n' roll and jazz, providing a framework for improvisation and expression.

    • Foundation for many blues songs with a simple structure
    • A dance form popular in blues clubs
    • A specific tuning used in blues guitars
    • A type of blues scale with 12 notes
  • Which groundbreaking song by Sister Rosetta Tharpe is considered one of the first rock and roll records?

    "Strange Things Happening Every Day," recorded in 1944 by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, is a trailblazing song in the history of music. Known for its fusion of gospel and rhythm, this song is often cited as one of the first rock and roll records, showcasing Tharpe's exceptional guitar skills and innovative style.

    • Didn't It Rain
    • Up Above My Head
    • Strange Things Happening Every Day
    • Rock Me
  • What role did radio play in the spread of blues music?

    Radio played a crucial role in the spread of blues music by bringing it to a wider audience. In the early 20th century, blues and other forms of African American music were rarely recorded or broadcast. However, as radio became more popular, blues music began to be aired, exposing diverse audiences across the United States to the genre and significantly contributing to its growth and evolution.

    • Broadened audience reach and genre exposure
    • Limited the spread due to censorship
    • Focused only on live performances
    • Primarily used for advertising blues albums
  • Which song originally recorded by Big Mama Thornton became a rock 'n' roll hit when covered by Elvis Presley?

    Big Mama Thornton's original recording of "Hound Dog" in 1952 gained fame in the R&B genre. However, it was Elvis Presley's 1956 cover of the song that transformed it into a rock 'n' roll sensation, showcasing the crossover potential between R&B and rock 'n' roll.

    • Hound Dog
    • Ball and Chain
    • They Call Me Big Mama
    • Sassy Mama
  • What is the significance of "Catfish Blues"?

    "Catfish Blues" is a traditional blues song that has been recorded by numerous artists and has become a staple of the blues genre. Its significance lies in its enduring influence and adaptability, with various artists putting their own spin on the song. Versions by Robert Petway, Muddy Waters, and Jimi Hendrix are particularly notable, each bringing different elements to this classic blues narrative.

    • Enduring influence and multiple notable versions
    • First blues song to use electric guitar
    • Introduction of the slide guitar in blues
    • First blues song to win a Grammy Award
  • Who released the influential blues album "Born Under a Bad Sign" in 1967?

    Albert King, renowned for his profound influence on blues and rock music, is the artist behind the celebrated 1967 album "Born Under a Bad Sign".

    • B.B. King
    • Albert King
    • Freddie King
    • Eric Clapton

BB King playingB.B. King, November 1971 Heinrich Klaffs, CC BY-SA 2.0

About Blues music

Blues music is a genre that originated in the African American communities in the Deep South of the United States around the end of the 19th century. It developed from roots in African musical traditions, African-American work songs, spirituals, and the folk music of white Americans of European heritage. Blues music is characterized by its use of specific chord progressions, the most common being the twelve-bar blues.

Key Elements of Blues Music:

- Lyrics: Often about personal woes, the trials and tribulations of life, love lost, and social commentary.
- Music Structure: Typically based on a repeated pattern (most commonly the 12-bar blues) and features a call-and-response pattern between the singer and the guitar.
- Chords: The basic 12-bar blues uses a series of three chords (I, IV, and V).
- Melody and Harmony: Blues melodies often follow a pentatonic scale and make use of "blue notes," which are notes played at a slightly lower pitch than that of the major scale for expressive purposes.

Blues music has significantly influenced almost all popular American music, including jazz, country, rock, and pop. It laid the groundwork for the later development of various music genres.

Influential Blues Musicians:

- Early Pioneers: W.C. Handy, Leadbelly, and Ma Rainey.
- Delta Blues: Charley Patton, Son House, and Robert Johnson.
- Chicago Blues: Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and Willie Dixon.
- Modern Blues: B.B. King, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

The genre has seen various subgenres and styles develop over the years, including Delta blues, Chicago blues, and electric blues. Its impact can be seen in the work of countless artists and continues to be a vital part of the music scene today.