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Well, along the lines of a couple of other posts here (like Don's "top 3 recordings"), I'd be interested in starting a post on the "Most Influential Artists" of our era.

These do not need to be the most talented artists, have the best recordings, or you don't even need to "like" them, but let's list those artists that we feel have broken new ground rather than follow along with the crowd.

I will get us started, but realize that my background is on the Rock side, so I am biased in that direction. I'm sure I could think of many more if I put my mind to it, but here are just a few to get us going:

  • Elvis (obviously)
  • B.B. King
  • Beatles - Sgt. Pepper and others...
  • Jimi Hendrix - definitely unique!
  • Black Sabbath - Started a whole new genre of heavy metal)
  • Edgar Winter - "They only come out at night" with "Frankenstein" (great keyboards)
  • Boston - "That guitar sound"
  • Van Halen - When I first heard "Eruption", I was totally blown away..."Who is this guy playing that guitar?"
    There are tons more that spring to mind here that are legends, such as Cream, Rush, The Who (Tommy), the Stones, Yes, etc. Some of these certainly qualify for "The List", but remember, just because they are "legends" doesn't *necessarily* mean they broke new ground...

    Let's hear your comments!

  • Topic Tags


    anonymous Fri, 01/17/2003 - 01:19

    As an "only" 25 year old newbie in this music passion thing maybe I can share my point of view.
    At first I want to mention that I'm into Hip Hop / R'n'B and you might except that I don't know nothing 'bout "good" music, well here's the surprise.

    As you maybe wouldn't assume, my musical taste is very broadbased and so it will get a little mixed up. Because for my in first it counts the song not the genre and there is a lot good music outthere.

    My first influences from like elementary school is
    "the King"
    he definite coined my feeling for rythm and vibe.
    then I've got really early into that Hip Hop thing without disregarding there's alot more out there.
    - Beatles / definite great Songs
    - Hendrix / wooow that guitar sound
    - Santana / another one (how long he's in that game? and still up to date)
    - Stevie Wonder; Lionel Richie and all that Motown Stuff / love it!
    - Kraftwerk / they were real pioneers
    - Aerosmith / no comment there - they speak for themselves
    - Michael Jackson / the King of Pop
    - Timbaland-Outkast(Organized Noize)-Dr. Dre / put a stamp on that genre and took it to the next level

    these were just a few from my perspective. Couldn't write them all down, the list would became too long.

    To these people just two words "Big Respect"
    not only for the good music that made me always feel good but also for the creativity and passion for the thing they love the most.

    I must admit that I don't know where this sentence came from but I've heard it and loved it because it's so true.

    "Creativity is about not imitating." That's why they are the Big One's. Just my two cents.

    KurtFoster Fri, 01/17/2003 - 08:07

    Killer idea for a thread! I agree with all your picks. I have one exception and it's not really in regards to how influential Black Sabbath was, they were very influential. But as I recall it the first real "heavy" bands to come along were “Jimi Hendrix” and "Led Zeppelin". I was a rotten little juvenile delinquent (who would have guessed?) and I was sent to a continuation high school for my inability to knuckle under to the authority of our high school Dean (mostly for dress code violations, little hippie punk). Anyway I can remember being in class where we had this really cool teacher who let us bring in records to play and this guy brought in the first Zeppelin record! Man I was flabbergasted! I had never heard anything like that. “How Many More Times”, with Robert Plant singing like a siren..ahhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhhh. I just had all the hair stand up on my arms remembering it! Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Cream were IMO the first bands to do what was then termed as "heavy rock" music. They paved the way for Sabbath to become the first "Metal" band! The 4 things I heard as a kid that made me feel like the world would never be the same again were (in chronological order) “Elvis”, “The Beatles” “Jimi Hendrix” and “Led Zeppelin”! I am so fortunate to have been on the planet to witness all of these. Good subject! Fats
    edited 01/20/03 11:20am How could I forget to mention; "Jeff Beck"? He was the first to do "heavy" music. Also I recall before the term "Metal" it being called "Hard Rock". Fats
    Tannoys, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D ,Genelec, Hafler, KRK, PMC
    Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.

    Doublehelix Fri, 01/17/2003 - 10:02

    Willi: I agree about Stevie Wonder...set new trends..."Songs in the Key of Life" was an incredible album, but that was certainly later in his career...and of course, Santana is one of my all time favs, and I would guess that some of his work with percussion was trend-setting.

    FATS: Man! How could I have forgotten about Led Zeppelin??? What an idiot!!! :) Did they pre-date Ozzy and gang? I remember hearing Black Sabbath in 5th grade...let me see...1969-ish???

    Once again, this is not about talent or about legends, but trend-setters...

    Don Grossinger Mon, 01/20/2003 - 08:48

    Most influential is almost easier than favorite!I think we can still learn from these artists!!

    The Beatles: what variety in styles, writing & production. Set the bar for all else to reach for.

    Louis Armstrong: introduced the concept of "solos" in improvisational music with the Hot 5 & Hot 7 recordings in the 1920s & 1930s

    Muddy Waters: electric, urban blues

    Jimi Hendrix: a new way of hearing rock music

    Elvis Presley / Chuck Berry: invented & popularized a new form of music combining blues & country

    Charlie Parker / John Coltrane / Miles Davis: Blew the cobwebs off jazz in their own eras.

    Sex Pistols: Blew the cobwebs off rock

    Bob Dylan: Intellegent lyrics

    Run-DMC: brought Rap to the masses

    Bill Monroe: invented bluegrass: small group, improvised, acoustic music with that "high lonesome sound".

    Sebatron Mon, 01/20/2003 - 17:56

    As far as 'influential' goes,here's what i think:

    Louis Armstrong,Chuck Berry,
    Stevie Wonder,
    maybe Prince,Beastie Boys,Eminem
    each contributed evolution to the pop song

    I can hear Stewart Copeland's influence in the drumming of 'Foo Fighters' i guess he's an influential drummer,he deserves to get a mention

    Bands changed alot after the Chilli Peppers released 'Blood Sugar....' and also i guess 'Nirvana' .Both influential as well.
    The beat goes on. :s:

    audiowkstation Mon, 01/20/2003 - 18:30

    The definition of this to me (to me) is the artists that either inspired me from listening, or the ones I have worked with that took me to another level quickly.

    First, inspiration from listening.

    The Grassroots. I was inspired to play bass and drums. This was 69/70 and I picked the trombone in 69 because "I was told I had too much talent to be a drummer" DUH..... I still learned the drums back then because I WANTED TO DO IT!

    And as far as Bass goes and memorizing all the bass licks, I picked that up as well from a doghouse in 70's to the guitar (tuned for bass eadg (eat dog was the saying) and kept on coming on..

    All the Motown records I could hear. Listened to as many as possible on WBOP Pensacola , advertised as the "black spot on ya dial"
    BTW, WBOP was "black of Pensacola" for those who need to know.

    Then, hi fi.

    Gosh, speakers was it. How you could screw with a speakers crossover and hear more music. Working with a company named Speakerlab out of Seattle as a caller, buyer, and later as a consultant and later yet, helping in tweaking crossovers and giving private info for a discount or two. Heaven sent from a 1-800 number in Stereo Review. 1973 folks.

    I was inspired by reproduction and recording arts, then as an artist myself, I started working with some of the greats (1977/78), all the while involved with loudspeakers, acoustics, manufactures in tweaking and mixing, recording and mastering) Even working with phono cartridge manufatures (ortophon) in tweaking canilever alignment to shells and so forth.

    As far as the greats, being on stage with Maynard, Kenton, and Buddy Rich has a lot to say for it self and all the FOH I did as well with other rock bands that had gold and platnium sales.

    Artist I was really inspired by?

    All of them really. I learned their vibe and it is a part of me. Taking things up a level or two over night?

    Buddy Rich. Maynard Ferguson, Willie Tee, Raymond Anthony Myles, Alan Parsons, Peter Frampton, Chuck Neagron, Gatemouth Brown, Steve Guffy. Tim Coale, Jerome Tucker. Precise. Rick Hammang. Many more. (excuse for preserving bandwidth)

    Hang with the cats and pick the vibe up forever and use it at will. Part of it all. Being there is better than hearing through speakers, but if the speakers get you closer.....well I had to do loudspeaker design for this exploration of the vibe itself.

    JA, I get it from all the talent and it does not stop. Ever.

    All you work with has something to say. You can store that energy forever and use it for yourself.

    Life has infinite possibilities if you excersize them.

    Pez Tue, 01/21/2003 - 19:44

    I don't know about the general public but the music that influenced me the most personally was of course The Beatles (knew what I wanted to do with my life after seeing them on Ed Sullivan), The Byrds -everything especially "Sweet Heart of the Rodeo", The Yardbirds (Shapes of things- first time I heard a guitar sustain like that). The Kinks -one of the first bands to use distortion and their tunes were so simple anyone could play them (except Van Halen). Hendrix who created a whole new language for guitar. Page-still some of the best riff based tunes. Pet Sounds of course. The Band (Music from Big Pink). Grateful Dead in their Working Mans Dead/American Beauty period. The Police whose sycopated rhythm was a welcome relief during the awful disco years. Van Morrisons Moondance- a classic. Earl Johnson and the Clodhoppers who opened my eyes to the out of control beauty of old-time fiddle. The Pixes who I think was the real influence behind Nirvana. Wilco who continues to be creative and unafraid to change. BR549 at Roberts bar in Nashville before they got signed. Last but not least a big thumbs down for all of the uncreative musical drivel coming out of modern country radio.

    aloomens Wed, 01/22/2003 - 07:55

    Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Miles Davis come to mind immediately.

    Did anyone mention the Rolling Stones yet?

    For me personally the most influential was without a doubt, Duane Allman. I was a kid just learning to play guitar, and my teacher brought me a tape of the ABB. When I first heard the guitar on that tape, it opened my eyes, and I knew where I was headed.

    Since this is a recording forum, I'm a little surprised that no body mentioned a guy named Les Paul. He, as far as I know, invented multi track recording (as well as the solid body electric guitar)!

    Doug Milton Fri, 01/24/2003 - 14:19

    I can't speak for who influenced the masses, but here are a few artists who have influenced me.

    My first awareness of music started with Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass on TV. It led me to play the trumpet in school for years and get grounded in reading music and theory.

    The first two 45s I ever bought were Grand Funk's "We're an American Band" and Rufus w/ Chaka Chan "Tell Me something Good", I still have both of them. I spent most of my elementary and middle school years listening to Ohio Players, Earth Wind and Fire, Spinners, Brothers Johnson, the Beatles, Elton John, Kiss, 10cc, Zep, Steely Dan and Tower of Power.

    In high school I discovered Yes and Rush which led me to play bass. And after years of playing rock, I took jazz lessons from a great local guy named Jimmy Charlsen who turned me on to Chick Corea (electric band 1), Flim & the BBs, Monk, Jaco (solo and with Weather Report), and I'm a huge Tony Levin fan.

    It's all part of the soup that makes us who we are…

    anonymous Fri, 01/24/2003 - 22:35

    What is an era...mine or the ones that influenced the music that i grew up with in the 80's....ucckkkkk..what a dismal time that was for the most part....

    i go for the songwriters

    cole porter
    kurt weil
    lorenz and hart
    sammy cahn
    lennon and mcartney
    hoagy carmichael
    and johnny mandel of course

    charley christian
    louis armstrong
    charlie parker
    john coltrane
    miles davis
    bill evans
    clifford brown
    bill withers
    jeff beck
    anything motown
    bruce springsteen, john cougar, et al for bringing back the acoustic guitar and singer songwriters

    brian eno. daniel lanois, tony levin, john levental, quincy jones, gil evans (arrangements), everyone who ever tried.......

    oh yeah and shakespeare, bukowski, ginsberg, rimbaud, rilke, robertson davies, michael ondatje.....

    so much inspiration, so much to listen, to learn and to live...cheers mark

    anonymous Sun, 01/26/2003 - 18:33

    Wow...what a many to choose from...too many great artists...

    For me (I’m a rocker), these are the most influential artists of our era:
    ~Robert Johnson
    ~Hank Williams
    ~Chuck Berry
    ~The Beatles
    ~Jimi Hendrix
    ~The Sex Pistols

    Including the list above, these are the most influential artists in my life:
    ~Eddie Cochran
    ~Miles Davis
    ~Johnny Cash
    ~The Yardbirds (Clapton, Beck and Page)
    ~The Rolling Stones
    ~Crosby, Stills Nash & Young
    ~The Ramones

    I recall the first day of my American history class at Southwest Texas State University, when we had to list our favorite American. I thought and thought, and finally I wrote that it was a tie between Ben Franklin and Chuck Berry.

    Music has been such a big part of my life for so long, and I have been influenced by literally thousands of artists- many of whom are locals that the world at large will never know...


    anonymous Mon, 02/03/2003 - 18:16

    Mmmmm, 'influential' many different rings to it, well for me at least.

    ZAPPA ( "conceptual continuity" ,social criticism, the best live band -Roxy & Elsewhere-era with George Duke e.a.)

    HENDRIX ( Axis Bold As Love, beautiful! Stone Free live version -best guitar solo ever...)

    PARLIAMENT ( attitude, fun, funk just listen to Rhenium and The Mothership Connection)

    THE METERS ( the rhythm...ahh New Orleans funk)

    NEPTUNES ( kick-ass production skills)

    BEN HARPER'S Fight For Your Mind album.

    PRINCE ( Around the World in a Day , Parade) least they made me think about music, message, performance, production and sheer creativity....

    Davedog Mon, 02/03/2003 - 19:25 no particular order...
    bob wills....dont know if any of you young guitar wankers has ever heard of eldon chamblin, but you should it'll open yer mind
    james brown...makes me wanna break into a cold sweat
    jimi hendrix...if 'experience' and 'axis' arent two of the finest guitar lessons available i dont know what is....
    frank sinatra...singers these days have no idea about the definition of phrasing in relation to the music
    elton john/bernie writing .
    beatles...uhh...songwriting..production..craftmanship...and if i ever hear one more person say that ringo couldnt play...why i oughta....
    leo fender...dont think he could play a lick but he sure knew how to make it possible for others to....
    chet atkins....well that should say a lot right there
    les young guys should find some of his early recordings and try to duplicate them...
    and finally...led zep for all the rockers out there who had no idea what blues could be

    anonymous Tue, 02/11/2003 - 11:31

    Okay guys. Since most of you grew up in the most creative and innovative time in music history. Which I think is the best time for music, since we all know how music is going these days and has been going since about the early 90's. Main stream no talent garbage. But besides that I thought I would give my view on musical influence. But its going to be a little differant since I am only 22 years old. Yea I wasnt around for hardly anything, but here goes, and just remember this is from someone that was 10 years old in 1990, thats when I first started taking music in for the first time.

    From 1990 and up....

    TOOL - need I say more

    MIKE PATTON - FAITH NO MORE,, keyboards, guitars,vocal range from hell

    NIRVANA - I never was a big fan, but they sure did influence alot of people

    RADIOHEAD - I'm not sure about everyone else, but they sure did influence me.

    RAGE AGIANST THE MACHINE - Was "Alright" in my opinion, but they influenced all of this crappy rap/metal that is everywhere like the plague.

    TORI AMOS - I see alot of girls on MTV and Radio playing the piano, and nora jones's. I bet Tori had somthing to do with it.

    RED HOT CHILLI PEPPERS - WOW how about that John Frusciante, I cant think of one guitarist that he did'nt influence a little. And oh yea the rest of the band is alright. lol



    anonymous Mon, 02/17/2003 - 10:26

    Toto-Steve Lukather-Jeff Porcaro
    David Foster - Humberto Gatica
    Mike Shipley (Producer-Mixer)
    Mutt Lange (P-M)
    Terry Thomas (P-M)
    David Botrill (mixer)
    Filter (new band great sound)
    Kip Winger (solo Albums - you should check 'em out)
    Pat Mastelotto (ex Mr.Mister now in King Crimson)
    Poe - Haunted
    Talvin Sigh
    Nine Inch Nails

    anonymous Mon, 02/17/2003 - 14:36

    Music: Beatles, Deep Purple, Genesis( with Peter Gabriel), Ambrosia,10 cc, Paul Simon, Dalbello, Radiohead...
    Guitar: Wishbone Ash, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jay Graydon, Jonny Winter, Robert Fripp.
    Vocals: Lennon, Robert Plant, Maggie Bell, K.D Lang, Peter Gabriel, EmmyLou Harris, John Fogerty.
    BG vocals: Queen, Beach Boys, Ambrosia,Beatles.
    Bass: McCartney, Flea, Chris Squire, Larry Graham, Tony Levin.
    Drums: John Bonham, Jeff Porcaro, Ringo, Steve Gadd.
    Producer:George Martin, Daniel Lanois, ABBA, Brian Eno... Alan Parsons.


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