11. John Fahey
In the late nineties, indie rock kids–myself included–started embracing sounds that expanded beyond four white guys playing drums, bass, and guitar. Bands like Tortoise and The Sea and Cake bridged the way to the avant garde stylings of Gastr del Sol and Oval, opening up whole new sound-worlds to young ears. Gastr del Sol’s stunning 1996 record Upgrade and Afterlife featured a cover of Fahey’s “Dry Bones in the Valley” as the most beautiful closing statement imaginable. A whole new generation of listeners were introduced to cult fave Fahey’s cryptic finger-picking style via Gastr’s Jim O’Rourke, along with Table of the Elements records who released Fahey’s Womblife in 1997. Today, followers of Fahey’s sound include Six Organs of Admittance, Jack Rose, Glenn Jones, and James Blackshaw, among many others. Great stuff, all around.
12. Jimi Hendrix
Hendrix is as great as everyone thinks he is.
13. Brian Jones
Brian Jones is often credited as the “second guitarist” for the Rolling Stones, and relegated to a space under the shadow of Keith Richards. He’s more infamous than famous, remembered as the wild man of the Stones who helped define their renegade image. However, Brian Jones was a multi-instrumentalist whose passion for different styles of music from around the world helped infuse the basic rocknroll of the early Stones with a certain eclectic punch. And although his early drowning death (like Dennis Wilson) in 1969 (before Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin) is tragic on some levels (like Keith Moon), it may have preserved him from turning into what the Rolling Stones are today–a decrepit zombie joke that can no longer reasonably retire, already having permanently damaged any patina of mythos to their legacy.
14. Pete Townshend
What Pete Townshend lacked in technical dazzle he more than made up for in bombast, his raw energy and indelicacy summed up best in his propensity to smash his guitars and stab his amps. His work with synthesizers pioneered whole new territories and genres of music, and his penchant for arranging narrative song-suites proved a profound influence on my favorite band, The Fiery Furnaces.
This is one of my favorite things ever:
15. Phil Manzanera
Besides being a founding member of Roxy Music, Manzanera released a series of excellent solo albums of strange new wave music in the late seventies, continuing to work with Brian Eno, as well as guys like Robert Wyatt and John Wetton. Diamond Head is a favorite of mine.