When you’re looking for a new artist to love, it can be difficult to measure their worthiness.
Sure, they might sound good – but is that all they have to offer?
Music lovers search the artists for something more, and many add a measure of influence when judging an artist’s worth.
In this post we explore ten pieces of music where one part echoes influencers you need to follow. Listen closely and find your new favorite!
“Many write songs about their influences,” said Carroll Coates in a 1959 interview with High Fidelity magazine.
“They don’t even think about this, but the average listener’s mind automatically sets them down as influences.”
Indeed, a songwriter might be influenced by a variety of artists and influences, but often a listener can infer these connections simply from the music.
This is true in many genres of music – different artists might influence each other.
But in some cases it’s much more apparent than others.
We all know pop songs are inspired by classic songs- or at least so they say – but what about the singers who inhabit those classic melodies?
What about the writers who pen lyrics that resonate with us? Follow ten artists below to learn more about their unique musical inspirations.
10 DANGER DUDES
James Brown’s 1964 version of “Money” featured a part dubbed “The James Brown Groove,” which was originally intended to be used on the new R&B band’s version of the song,
which they recorded for their first album, It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.
However, when executives at King Records heard the song without that groove, they asked for it to be removed from the master.
The new vocal take was recorded with that groove intact and released on It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.
In addition to influencing Brown, James Payton was also a member of The Mar-Keys and wrote songs inspired by his father Fred Payton.
THE MILKY DOT COMBOS
Queen’s “The Show Must Go On” is an anthem that became a defining song for frontman Freddie Mercury.
Originally recorded in 1982, that original version was recorded in conjunction with guitarist Brian May referencing Cream’s “White Room.”
But the intro to Queen’s song sounds so similar to Cream’s track, many have assumed the two groups are inspired by one another.
However this is not the case. The similarities between the two songs are not a matter of influence
the fact that the two bands share drummer Roger Taylor who collaborated on both songs.
THE WITCHY BUNCH
The Beatles never directly acknowledge their influence on any other artists, but it’s easy to see hints of John Lennon’s songwriting style in other acts.
In his book Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards: The Real Story of the Beatles’ Best Enemy,
Author Richard McComb cited artists whose work almost certainly influenced those from Liverpool including Brian Johnson from The Who,
Robbie Johnson and Dale Griffin from Uriah Heep and Zager & Evans.
WILD N FREE
Link Wray – the guitarist behind “(Rumble) Shake Down” – is a musical inspiration for many artists.
In fact, so many have been influenced by the song that a number of them have come forward to admit their admiration.
In a 1982 interview with Guitar Player magazine, Eric Clapton said,
“People who explore this stuff call themselves ‘shade-tree pickers,’ and I think I am one of those myself.
I know what it’s all about.” Johnny Otis was obviously influenced by Link’s work as well, citing Link as an influence in his autobiography Spinning ‘Round.
The Life and Times of Johnny Otis
A few years before The Beatles were beginning to gain popularity,
they were asked to play on a concert for the London College of Music and they brought along their new manager, Allan Williams.
He was turned away from the venue for not wearing a tie.
Even though he hadn’t been given permission to go inside, he eventually invaded the school and began teaching the students about rock and roll.
The students had been listening to American records which included sound clips that featured James Brown and Little Richard.
So when they heard The Beatles perform, many became obsessed with the sound of their music and sought out more records like them.
This phenomenon spread like wildfire and ultimately influenced many British beat groups including The Kinks.
THE FLAMING LIPS
The Flaming Lips are influenced by a wide variety of artists, but most often they are inspired by Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd.
The group’s anthem “Do You Realize??” is thought to be an ode to the band members’ spiritual advisor Steven Drozd, who died in 2007.
It was part of their 2002 album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.
Many of their most popular songs are considered to be similar to Floyd’s psychedelic work-
“Fight Test” for instance sounds like an instrumental version of “Money.
DAVEY JONES AND THE KING BEES
While it is unclear if songwriters intentionally write with specific artists in mind,
it’s apparent on first listen that the melody of “Money” is influenced by The Isley Brothers’ “Twist and Shout.”
Released in 1962 on their self-titled album, the number “twist and shout” was performed by the three brothers – Ronald, Rudolph and O’Kelly Isley
who were also responsible for writing some of their biggest hits including “This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You).
John Mayall is a guitar legend. At the time of the Beatles’ rise to fame in the U.S.,
they were touring with The Bluesbreakers and they opened for John Mayall in late 1964.
That’s when McCartney introduced Ringo Starr to him and coined the name “Ringo” for Starr’s bass drum.
In a 1985 documentary on The Beatles, McCartney said, “I’ve played a lot of different guitars in my life,”
including a 1959 Höfner Precision he owned in Liverpool in 1963,
which was involved in an accident with Ringo’s bass drum head where it got damaged from someone throwing a stone at it during their tour.
There are some artists whose musical influence is blatantly clear.
For example, Elton John’s work with Bernie Taupin is obvious. Known as the “Writer’s Block” of the 70s,
their partnership gave us classics like “Bennie and the Jets” and “Levon.”
However, writer Alan McGee discovered Elton John before he had ever heard of Bernie Taupin.