House of Blues Chicago is part of a chain of live music halls, spread across the United States in thirteen locations, including Anaheim, Atlantic City, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Myrtle Beach, New Orleans, Orlando, San Diego, and West Hollywood. The first was established in the early 90s in Cambridge Massachusetts. Carefully designed with meticulous detail, each House of Blues features a form of décor unique to the establishment, and much of the designing elements were inspired by southern juke joints. Set along Chicago's Magnificent Mile, the venue has a larger than life mission, House of Blues extends itself beyond the enjoyment of music and cuisine, promoting a harmonious society through the love of music.
In 1992, driven by a desire to spread the ecstasy of music from the rural south, such as Blues, Gospel, Jazz, and Roots-based Rock and Roll, Isaac Tigrett, financed by a number of individuals and organizations, including Aerosmith, Dan Aykroyd, James Belushi, River Phoenix, Paul Shaffer, and Harvard University, opened the first House of Blues in Harvard Square of Cambridge, where the members left their handprints on the concrete driveway that is still in place today. The original House has closed down, but since its arrival on the musical scene, it has become a major venue for performers and has reached across the nation with 13 strategic locations, like Disney Downtown in California and Florida and Sunset in West Hollywood, and the mission of the House remains in the recognition, education, and celebration of the Southern Culture and African American musical and artistic contributions to the world.
Visual interest, in addition to honoring the South and its rich history, is a key element in designing the House of Blues. Some of the most significant components include the vast art collection, composed of Outsider Art, a style of artwork coined as "Visual Blues," the “Crazy Quilt” curtains, fashioned in an abstract free-form elegance, on every House of Blues stage, honoring the Africans who were enslaved and used the Underground Railroad as a means of gaining freedom. Innovation is no stranger to the creators of the House of Blues. To ensure that every artist that steps on their stages has a connection with the roots and spirit of the South, a metal box containing Delta Mississippi mud has been welded to the frame beneath the stage.
In 1996, the House of Blues Chicago opened its doors to the public in the Marina City complex along the Chicago River. Each House is created in a unique fashion, the Chicago establishment was inspired by the Estavovski Opera House of Prague, complete with exclusive opera boxes. Some of the featured performances that have graced the stage since its opening include The Who, Pearl Jam, and Al Green.
Through its efforts to extend a caring hand to society, the House of Blues developed the International House of Blues Foundation, an organization that offers programs to schools and communities with the intention of providing awareness of contributions of African Americans on the American culture, such as blues musical influence on today’s music and culture, and encourage a creative expression through music and art. There are numerous Chicago hotels in the area, including the Hard Rock Hotel Chicago.