There’s a lot of really great music out there. Often, we take it for granted without really investigating the origins of the melodies we enjoy so much. Each artist is influenced by someone else, and that someone else had someone who influenced them, ad infinitum. There’s nothing that hasn’t been done before, yet each song has it’s own unique character. Here, then, are 3 musicians that you had no idea influenced the world with their music.
#3 Jackson C. Frank Sings the Blues
Who? Jackson C. Frank has been called the most important forgotten singer of the 1960’s by David Fricke (music editor for Rolling Stones magazine). A folk singer who only recorded a single album during his career, Jackson C. Frank had greater success in Britain and Scotland than he did in America. When he was 11, a school fire injured him and killed several of his classmates, causing deep psychological scars that later influenced his music. He went to London and recorded his one and only album, which immediately became so popular that he was asked to a number of radio performances, which helped establish himself in the London folk scene. (Source)
How Did He Influence the World? Frank recorded his album with Paul Simon, of Simon and Garfunkel fame. He must have made quite the impression, because his hit song, The Blues Run the Game, was covered by Simon and Garfunkel. Furthermore, Frank’s influence in Europe cannot be pushed aside. His songs from 1965 were still bringing him royalty income until his death in 1999.
#2 Rufus Payne teaches a country legend to play guitar
Who? Rufus Payne is not a well known name by most in modern day America. Better known as “Tee Tot”, Payne was a simple small town musician who played his music on the street corner to entertain passers-by. He worked odd jobs in town and played songs with a couple other local musicians. He made quite the impression on a young 12 year old boy, who heard him and determined that he would learn guitar from him. That young boy was Hank Williams, the quintessential country legend. It’s well-documented that Payne taught Williams not just guitar, but how to see the world as an artist. (Source)
How Did He Influence the World? Payne’s influence on Williams was vital to his development as a musician. Without his teaching, Williams would never have become the musician that he was, being a somewhat awkward guy that probably would have become a doctor or lawyer without someone awakening a musical interest within him. And without Hank Williams’ influence, another great artist would never have experienced inspiration. Who was that, you may ask?
#1 Arthur Alexander Helped Start the Beat
Who? Arthur Alexander was a musician who wrote a number of galactic hits that he never really profited from. The reason for this is that he influenced a lot of other popular artists so much so that they covered his songs and popularized them. Born in 1940 in Alabama, Arthur Alexander recorded his first album when he was 20 years old, and didn’t follow up with a second album until 1972. It’s said that he eventually left music and worked as a bus driver at a center for disadvantaged kids. (Source)
How Did He Influence the World? Alexander had a huge influence on the popular musicians of the 1960’s and 70’s. Rock n’ roll giants The Beatles were one of his biggest fans. Lennon idolized him and McCartney said that they wanted to sound like Arthur Alexander. Their songs Anna (Go to Him), Soldier of Love, A Shot of Rhythm & Blues were all Arthur Alexander songs that they covered. Bob Dylan also covered an Arthur Alexander song, and not to be left out, so did The Rolling Stones. And finally, yet another rock legend who found him inspiring, Elvis covered his song Burning Love in 1972. Few artists in history have been covered by such popular acts and then forgotten, which probably makes him the most influential artist in history that nobody has really heard of.
That’s it, folks! Do you have an artist that you think deserves recognition? List them below in the comments (to comment with your Facebook, click the Facebook icon in the upper right corner of the comment box!
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