Blues music has had its individualist performers with powerful, poetic feeling, tremendous instrumental virtuosity, or a unique sound. But if the tradition ever had its Everyman, it would be Jimmy Reed, the most popular Chicago blues performer of the 1950s and early 1960s.
Jimmy Reed had a guitar technique that rarely varied, and his vocals were relaxed to the point where hearers couldn't always understand the words he sang. Yet Reed found a groove and stuck to it, creating a sound that any blues fan could identify after hearing only a few seconds of his music. That sound, moreover, influenced nearly every rock music ensemble that had a blues element in its style. Reed's music distilled the essence of the blues.