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ucme's avatar

Who would you say rank as the most influential people in music from your lifetime?

Asked by ucme (50047points) September 28th, 2010

Yeah I know that excludes the classical composers but for the purposes of this question we’ll stick to contemporary artists. So yeah, in terms of record sales/chart success & influence on future performers. Which artists/bands deserve to be held in such high esteem?

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40 Answers

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

The Beatles and Elvis Presley. There are others, but these should come first and in that order please.

muppetish's avatar

Clarity question: when you say “from your lifetime” does that mean from when I was born onward? Because that narrows the number of artists and bands significantly and will result in an interesting diversity of responses to your question.

If it is only from my lifetime… Nirvana is pretty damn influential whether people like them or not. My friend would be pretty disappointed if I didn’t nominate Red Hot Chili Peppers (particularly John Frusciante’s guitar stylings.) Radiohead is another good one, but I am deeply biased in Thom Yorke’s favour.

There are plenty of pop singers who influenced other artists, but they aren’t my cup of tea and listing them here would make me gag. I can’t ignore that they have left a stamp on the industry, for better or worse, but blech.

Trillian's avatar

I can’t say who is “most” of anything, but I can clearly hear the Dave Matthews influence when I listen to Jason Mraz.

ucme's avatar

@muppetish Yes that was my intent. A wide age range on here guarantees, at least in theory, a diverse bunch of replies.

Mista_Reflexivity's avatar

Radiohead and The Mars Volta

SamIAm's avatar

Nirvana for sure… Notorious BIG, Tupac, Radiohead… I’m curious to see what everyone else says.

Seek's avatar

From my lifetime?

I was born in 1985. It’s safe to say that any record sales and chart success (or, at least American record sales and chart success) from my lifetime will show a distinct lack of correlation with influential musicians. I use the word “musician” deliberately under the definition of ”: a composer, conductor, or performer of music; especially : instrumentalist” Britney Spears and Milli Vanilli are not “musicians”.

Now, if you remove the chart success/album sales clause, and restrict it to bands who released their first album after my birthdate of December of 1985, I’d say:

Dream Theater
Enya (ok, so her first solo album was 1984. I’m stretching)
Loreena McKennitt
Pearl Jam
Meh… probably Green Day
Beastie Boys
Public Enemy
And I’ll throw in the Chilis too, because Flea is awesome. (a little stretch. Freaky Styley was August of 85)

wundayatta's avatar

Phillip Glass, Ray Kurzweil..

Glass developed a very different way of thinking about music to a Western audience. I think he was combining an Eastern aesthetic with the capabilities of electronic music machines.

Kurzweil was certainly not the only synthesizer maker, but he was the first to really go after sounds that truly mimicked those of analog instruments. In addition, he is just a pioneer, period, and has taken us to places we could not have otherwise imagined. In any case, few of the pop bands could have existed as they exist now without synthesizers.

Which, I suppose, brings me to Les Paul, one of the “inventors” of the electric guitar.

And I suppose I have to include Louis Armstrong, the jazz trumpeter. I saw him perform with I was maybe twelve or so. He clearly has had an iconic influence on jazz.

Someone has to speak up for music that plays more than two chords per song.

thekoukoureport's avatar

Sgt peppers
Bridge over troubled Water
sappy love songs
Eric Clapton
Billy Joel

Aster's avatar

Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, The Beatles.

muppetish's avatar

@wundayatta I could not possibly be more jealous of you for having seen Louis Armstrong perform.

Seek's avatar

Reading all of these answers is making me really upset I’m not old enough to add in Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Aerosmith.

chyna's avatar

Beach Boys, Rolling Stones, Led Zepplin, Moody Blues, Bee Gees (for what they did with disco), Michael Jackson… the list is endless.

Aster's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Awful being too young, isn’t it? ha.
I agree with Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray. But I adore Fleetwood Mac stuff!

rebbel's avatar


wundayatta's avatar

@muppetish It is only a Pyrrhic victory. Not that we were competing. At this point, all I remember is that I was there and that we had to climb way up back to the highest of the nosebleed seats. Any other memory of him playing is my imagination inventing things. Like I say, all I know for sure is that I was there.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Willie Dixon.
He provided alot of songs for Led Zeppelin to steal

Rarebear's avatar

Earl Scruggs.

GladysMensch's avatar

Let’s just start with the P’s:
Public Enemy
Presley, Elvis

Blueroses's avatar

Can I include musicians from “before my time” if they are still performing/recording today?
Then I would say The Stones, Springsteen, Bowie, Clapton and Santana still command a lot of respect and influence younger artists.
If they have to have started after my birth and I’m basing the choice on creating change in the music scene then I guess, Madonna, Laurie Anderson, Imogen Heap, Nirvana, Green Day, Lady Ga Ga.

Lizabette's avatar

I was born in 1956, so for my time (by the time I was old enough to really listen), would’ve been:

Hank Williams (my Dad’s type of music that I grew up listening to)
Arlo Guthrie (folk)
Elvis Presley (obviously the biggest most original first rock ‘n roll influence)
Bo Diddley (blues)
Miles Davis (jazz)
The Beatles (first of England’s bands to cross the Pond)
Led Zeppelin
The Rolling Stones
Black Sabbath (death metal rock)
Lynrd Skynrd (Southern rock)
David Bowie (glam rock)
The Sex Pistols (punk)
The Velvet Underground (Lou Reed)
Nirvana (alt/grunge rock)
Depeche Mode (90’s rock)
Smashing Pumpkins
Eric Clapton
Woodie Guthrie
Green Day
Michael Jackson
The Bee Gees
(Many others, but I was trying to mention the MOST “influential”, no room to list all the “greats”.)

Lizabette's avatar

Oh, and Snoop Doggy Dogg (rap) (although it was the Beastie Boys and Run DMC who was at the beginnings of the rap/hip-hop scene), as well as The Ghetto Boys (from my hometown in Houston where the Swisha House record label was founded).

erichw1504's avatar

Michael Jackson, David Bowie, The Beatles, Eminem, Green Day, Lady GaGa

Brian1946's avatar

Chuck Berry, whose guitar work influenced the Stones, especially on tracks like “It’s All Over Now”.

Little Richard, whose flamboyance preceded Prince by over 20 years.

Buddy Holly, who wrote tunes that were covered by artists such as the Stones and Linda Ronstadt.
IIRC, the first US single release by the Stones was a cover of Holly’s, “Not Fade Away”.

Sam Cooke, who I think had a lot of influence on various Motown artists.

Bob Dylan, who inspired Jimi Hendrix to pursue his own musical aspirations and provided material for a variety of different artists.

Jimi Hendrix, who inspired a lot of acid rock and inspired Jeff Beck to resume his own career.

Carlos Santana opened the door for quite a few Latino bands.
Also, his collaborations with younger artists in the previous decade have produced some of the best music of their lives.

David Bowie, who was doing New Wave almost 10 years before the 80’s.

Sarah McLachlan, the originator of Lilith Fair and in turn a great source of support for female artists of the 1990’s.

amazingme's avatar

I’m only 17, so…Jack White. :]

aprilsimnel's avatar

Huh. The first four bands I thought of formed before I was born. Wow. And here I was thinking I was old.

Here’s some who started after I popped in: Prince, Hall & Oates, Nirvana, Duran Duran, The Smiths, U2, NWA, Public Enemy, Parliament/Funkadelic, R.E.M., The Replacements, Ben Folds Five, Sunny Day Real Estate

Seek's avatar

For everyone who has the bands on the list I wanted to put on mine, a gift for you.

occsean's avatar

New here…But have to speak up for the punk/alt/hardcore scene

Minor Threat
Suicidal Tendencies
The Cure
Depeche Mode
Public Enemy (as has been stated)
Johnny Cash

There are a ton of bands I could list..but off the top of my head the above had major influence over other artists and helped define a “sound” in their genre

Seek's avatar

Mad props for Suicidal, @occsean Their first album was released in ‘83, which is why they weren’t on my list.

Blueroses's avatar

@occsean I also have to add a +5 for Suicidal Tendencies. Institutionalized is one of my go-to wake-up songs.

YARNLADY's avatar

John Denver, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, Kenny G.

Seek's avatar

All I wanted was a Pepsi. Just one Pepsi. And she wouldn’t give it to me!

Aster's avatar

Ohhh Hall & Oats: You Make My Dreams Come True—ahhhhh
little Richard—Good Golly Miss Molly!! (fantastic piano intro)
Chuck Berry—Johnny Be Good !!!

Blueroses's avatar

@Aster You make my dreams come true… got new life from 500 days of Summer. So, yes, still influencing new generations.
@Seek_Kolinahr I’m not crazy! You’re the one who’s crazy!
@Trillian I hear more influence of Don McLean than Matthews in Mraz, but that’s just who my mom liked.
Ooh. Can I name McLean? He was before my time.

Aster's avatar

Bee Gees: How Deep Is Your Love?
Little Richard: Long, Tall Sally
Johnny Cash: doesn’t do it for me.
J. Denver: Colorado Rocky Mt High (gives me goosebumps)
Elvis: Don’t .
And who remembers: Carl Perkins: Blue Suede Shoes
M Jackson: Thriller

tranquilsea's avatar

Pink Floyd
Lou Reed
Twisted Sister

Seek's avatar

@Blueroses You wouldn’t know what crazy was if Charles Manson was eating Froot Loops on your front porch.

Atacama's avatar

Neil Young. I cringe when I think what the 90’s would have been like without his influence. Without him, grunge didn’t happen. I don’t know if the world could have coped with another 10+ years of hair-metal supremacy.

Blueroses's avatar

Nice! @Atacama
I was just watching that VH1 special about top 100 influential artists of all time… I guessed 3 of the top 5 correctly so I didn’t have to buy breakfast. The Beatles & M. Jackson are a given on any list… I thought it would have gone (#1 down) Beatles, Jackson, Elvis, Stones, Zeppelin…
Then: Nirvana, Queen, Prince, Bowie, Hendrix, Madonna, Floyd

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