5 artists who (almost) every musician today is influenced by, whether they realise it or not

As you’re busy pushing forward the creative boundaries of acoustic techno speed metal r&b (and please don’t ever stop, it sounds very exciting) you might be surprised to find out that you actually share common influences with almost every other working musician today.

Well, surprise! You do. And they do with you too. There’s a common musical DNA that connects everyone, and these five artists did more than most to help form it. If you love music, and seeing as you have a pulse we’re taking that as a given, give thanks to these towering figures and what they have given all of us.

1. Enrico Caruso 
If you’ve ever listened to a recording artist, have or plan to record your own music, you have this Italian gentleman to thank. You see when sound recording was invented in the 19th century, established artists didn’t want anything to do with it. They said it was gimmicky, not becoming of a proper performer. Caruso, already a very successful tenor, didn’t go for any of that and in 1902 he became the first established artist to record music. Thanks to his many recordings Caruso became even more famous and also much much richer and every other artist realised that recording music was actually a rather good idea after all.

 2. Big Joe Turner
If you like or have any connection with rock, r&b or pop music then tip your hat to this gentleman. An American blues musician from Misouri he was one of the grandfathers of rock and roll. Not the only one for sure, but his 1938 recording of ‘Roll ‘Em Pete’ with pianist Pete Johnson is one of the earliest examples of the back beat (ie the standard 4/4 beat that is foundation of pretty much every rock song). Then after finding the beat his 1954 song ‘Shake Rattle and Roll’ was a huge hit for him but an even bigger one soon afterwards for Bill Haley & The Comets which kicked off the era of rock, pop music, teenagers, etc. You get the idea. Big up to Big Joe Turner.

3. Bo Diddley
Another American blues/r&b musician who helped give birth to rock music. Which is enough to make this list anyway frankly but in 1955 Mr Diddley introduced the ‘Bo Diddley Beat’. Basically it’s playing the same chord on a guitar in a syncopated way that gets your hips moving but in so doing he introduced rhythm into rock music and got people who can’t dance dancing. They haven’t stopped since. And he helped Marvin Gaye get into the music business long before he found fame with Motown.

4. Little Richard
If you’re a performing musician who does anything other than stand still on brightly lit stage then Little Richard set you on your way. His 1950s songs like ‘Tutti Frutti’ and ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’ were some of the first rock hits but what really stood Little Richard apart were his incredible live performances. Before him artists used to just sit or stand and play. Not any more. He would tear about the stage generally drive the crowd into a frenzy. He was also the first pop artist to use lighting concepts from stage plays like spotlights. And if that wasn’t enough he gave the then-unknown Beatles a support slot at one of his gigs in Germany and taught Paul McCartney how to sing and scream like him. He also gave a support slot later on to another unknown band, the Rolling Stones. Oh and for a couple of years in the mid-1960s the guitarist in his band was Jimi Hendrix.

5. Delia Derbyshire
The only lady on this list, Ms Derbyshire has basically influenced every musician working today. She worked at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in London from 1960 to 1973 producing all kinds of music and sounds for BBC productions, most notably the theme tune to Doctor Who. At a time when most pop music was largely guitar and piano based, Derbyshire and her team were experimenting with all kinds of electronic equipment to create and manipulate sound. They were so ahead of their time that as well as inventing electronic music they pioneered things that are today absolutely standard for all recording artists such as sampling, looping, reverb and filtering. Artists and composers from Pink Floyd to Stockhausen to George Martin were all fans and popped in to say ‘Hello’, and with pretty much all music today recorded digitally, we’re all Delia’s children now.

If you’d like to carry on reading then try Artist Management – Decoded