I always thought that it was interesting that covers are so prominant in the blues, or even blues-based rock (Zep, Stones etc.) Many blues artists, from Rob Johnson to SRV, have preformed many covers, especially in comparison to artists in other genres. Thoughts?
keeping tradition alive. Interpreting other artists work your own way. Jazz and Folk do this too. you could probably argue that contemporary music is the only music that doesn't cover songs.
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It's a way of telling a story, and people like certain stories. I think it's great, and a perfect way of keeping roots alive. Most of blues is stolen anyway (in all seriousness); Robert Johnson's Walking Blues is from Son House's Walkin' Blues (which might have been from Charley Patton's). It's a way of adapting someone else's song to make it a way of conveying your own emotion, it's certainly not bad, and it will probably carry on for a very long time.
A lot of blues is basically a traditional music from the black slaves, an oral history shared around from person to person, generation to generation.

It's also a form of folk music if you look at it that way, stories and songs written to be shared.

As was pointed out, way back in the early days they were already all covering each others stuff and learning from each other, sharing and swapping licks.. i

I love that its stayed that way, it's such a great way to pay tribute to the founders and your influences while still making an expression yourself.
Also, although blues generally is comprised of a smiple format, it does not make it easy to write.

It is exceedingly difficult to write meaningful, original, blues lyrics. I think that this could contribute to the proliferation of covers
Cover a blues song is like paying homage to those who come before us. We incorporate everything they taught us and everything their music makes us feel when we cover them, and I think it's the same with everyone who covers a blues song.

BTW, Down has a cover of When the Levee Breaks that is pretty good.
Blues is just a staple. It runs through all genres. I agree totally with what's being said here. I think it may also be worth mentioning that blues cover were highly prominent and popular in the late sixties/early seventies and electrified or sped-up and adapted. Led Zepp and Rolling Stones, Jeff Beck, Canned Heat, Peter Greens Fleetwood Mac and Humble Pie to name a few. The reasons for them doing covers may also be because they grew up in the blues-boom from the 1950's. Son House, Sonny Boy Williamson, Willie Dixon, Son House, even Chuck Berry and Little Richard and they re-created it, although even they covered previous artists! The lyrics on most covers tend to stay true to previous versions and as does the speed and tone of the song, probably for tributes sake, doing the song as it should be, but also you can't really go wrong with the lyrics that have been written in the blues. The blues has been around for so long that the lyrics got to the 'perfect point' if that makes sense? Don't fix what isn't broke! CHeers!