City honors Alligator Records’ 50th anniversary with its own day

Chicago News

CHICAGO — Alligator Records is celebrating 50 years of recording blues music in Chicago this year.

Bruce Iglauer is the founder and fell in love with the blues as a young college student on a visit to the city in 1966.

Four years later, he moved to Chicago and became infatuated with Hound Dog Taylor and the House Rockers.

“I started a record company specifically to record my favorite band,”Iglauer said. “We recorded them entirely live, not even separate instruments so that they could be mixed later, we mixed it as we went, they played live like they did at Florence’s Lounge on 54th and Shields.”

Iglauer would go on to sign some of the biggest names in blues; Koko Taylor — known at the Queen of Blues, Lonnie Brooks, Son Seals and Shemekia Copeland.

Billy Branch, who’s considered one the greatest harmonica players, first recorded with Alligator Records in 1978.

“Blues speaks to the human condition, cause everybody has problems and ups and downs,” Branch said.

Nick Moss is one Alligator’s newest acts.

“It’s an organic, emotional music,” said Moss. “This is the music that made me feel something rather than just hearing it.”

Iglauer, who still works out of the same Edgewater Apartment he bought in 1985, credits his staff for much of the company’s success. Many of whom have been with him for more than 30 years.

Alligator Records is now the biggest independent blues label in world with a catalog of 350 albums and a roster of 16 artists. In honor of making it to the mid-century mark, the city is recognizing the pioneering blues label for its role in music by declaring June 18 Alligator Records Day.

Iglauer is looking forward to recording artists who not only want to sing about loving and losing, but also about the human condition.

“I’m so excited to turn people on to this music that moves me so much,” he said.

In honor of its 50th anniversary, Alligator Records has released a three CD set called “Alligator Records — 50 Years of Genuine Houserockin’ Music.”

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