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Who are the greats that you admire?

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Estimable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 44
Topic starter  

Who do you think are most “complete” musicians of our time? Who are the true artists with a rock-solid musical foundation? About “musical foundation,” there are many things that one could broach- from technical facility to good sense of rhythm to accurate memory, intensity discrimination, to creativity etc. But if you had to boil it all down to the single most important thing, success in music seems to always hinge on one's ability to hear- great sense of pitch more than anything else. Nowadays, we have great ear training programs that allow us to culture our ears at our own pace but in the past, none of that stuff was really available. It amazes me that these artists from the past, who didn't have those kinds of resources available to them, were persistent enough to culture their musical foundation.

Anyway, who do you think are the artists that have just about everything down?

The ones that are
1. are phenomenal singers.
2. are great on their instrument- be it piano, guitar etc.
3. write great songs.
4. write great lyrics.
5. have great stage presence, entertain the stadiums packed with a sea of people with their charisma.

Right now, off the top of my head, I can think of

Stevie wonder.
Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam.
Jon bon jovi
Freddie mercury of Queen.
Chris Cornell of soundgarden.

What do you guys think?

Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3995

Precisely this morning I heard one of the last songs of Stevie Wonder and then I thought all the great contributions from the "Alfie" time. He is a very complete musician and some of his tunes are really nice. Probably he must be in that list.

IMO every great band usually includes at least a complete musician. For example, tonight I was viewing the Eagle's Farewell I concert (BTW great DVD) and almost each band member plays several instruments and also sings, i.e. Don Henley sings, plays drums, guitar and I think also keyboard.

There is a lot of names that can be include in the list if you also consider just one or two features.


Noble Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 1120

For me there's only one

Bob Dylan

1. are phenomenal singers.
- yes he is - it's true! And it's getting better with years. Listen to the soreness on e.g. Time out of mind. It can make you cry.

2. are great on their instrument- be it piano, guitar etc.
- well, yes - his fingerpicking on the earlier albums (e.g. freewheelin) it definitely good, his harp playing speaks for itself ;-)

3. write great songs.
- ahh - where should I start? Yes!

4. write great lyrics.
- Blood on the tracks album, John Wesley Hardin album... It's a shame he didn't receive a nobel price yet.

5. have great stage presence, charisma.
- It is safe to say that it has changed over the years (who's wouldnt in 45 years). On concert clips from the Rollin' thunder Revue he is just there in the room with you. Nowadays it's more like he cannot stop playing. He simply has to go on stage every night. But to me there is some magic to this tiny, old man standing there - it's a shame he doesn't play the guitar(?) anymore

I don't think the rest of you have to post - Bob IS the complete musician ;)

...only thing I know how to do is to keep on keepin' on...

LARS kolberg

Alan Green
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5342

So many, but picking the personal fave's from the bunch...

1. are phenomenal singers. - yeah, Freddie Mercury gets my vote

2. are great on their instrument- be it piano, guitar etc. - Pepe Romero for guitar, any number of pianists (you gotta be good to work with that many keys)

3. write great songs. - Counting Crows. I forget their lyricist's name. Rush, Queen, Lifehouse, Led Zep, Foos and RHCP more or less a given here

4. write great lyrics. - the guy from the Counting Crows. Billy Joel (for Piano Man, what else)

5. have great stage presence, charisma. Slash - doesn't need to speak. And you know what? Rod Stewart may be old hat but when he speaks the audience listens (compare that with Amy Winehouse who could barely string together two words to her audience at Glasto this weekend - I watched her on telly)


A :-)

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at:

Famed Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 2811

Billy Joel gets my vote. He's got all those areas down.

Townsend as well.

Elton John - although he doesn't write I guess not.

Ray Charles - yeah, he's got it.

Clapton lacks the great song writing (he's written some good ones, but lets face it, many of his hits are covers, or were written by Pete Brown/Jack Bruce, etc)

Ignar Hillström
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5349

Jimi Hendrix. Thom Yorke, Erik de Jong.

Vic Lewis VL
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 10264

Take a look at three bands.

1 - The Beatles. Their songwriting output speaks for itself. None of them are regarded as virtuoso musicians, yet McCartneys one of the most under-rated bass players around, Lennon was rock-solid on rhythm, Harrison was an ever-improving lead player, and Ringo, again, criminally under-rated. They covered just about every genre of music possible, and they all sang. How many bands do you know who had four lead singers! Funny when you look back - John's usually thought of as the rocker, and Paul the balladeer, but some of their best ballads came fron John (eg Norwegian Wood, In My Life) and the raunchiest rockers from Paul - Helter Skelter, I'm Down.

2 - The Who. Townshend's inventive guitar playing and lyricism, Daltrey's ability to interpret those songs, Entwhistle's superb bass and Moon's brilliant drumming. Three brilliant musicians and one of the all-time great singers - what more could you ask from a band!

3 - Led Zep. Very similar to the Who, in concept if not in style. Page is one of the gretest - many would say THE greatest - guitarists of all time. JPJ is a fine musician - very good bass player, and able to turn his hand to other instruments as well - organ, flute. Bonzo was up there with Moony as a drummer, and Plant was a great front man. A band that's usually thought of as heavy rock, but they transcended genre restrictions effortlessly.

Yes, there are many other great musicians, singers and songwriters out there, but I can play anything by the above bands any time. There ARE songs I like by other artists - thousands of them! - but for consistency and quality output, The Beatles, The Who and LZ did it every time.

:D :D :D


"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)

Estimable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 158

As far as bands, I fully agree with Vic's big three...Beatles, The Who, and LZ. :D

As far as individuals, I'm very partial to a couple of Canadian folksingers..
Gordon Lightfoot and Bruce Cockburn.
Both have written music and lyrics which make profound social statements while holding up very well musically.
Cockburn is a brilliant melody-harmony fingerpicker, and Lightfoot is no slouch himself, albeit a rhythm guy.

"A child of five could understand this...send someone to fetch a child of five !"--Groucho Marx

Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1024


I think the GREATS are right here at GN.

Wes Inman
Dave Hodge
and..... ahhh

sorry I can't think right now, need coffee, its 5am here lol

You guys are GREAT MENTORS... WE LOVE YA and THANK You!!!
You've been very instrumental (pun intended hahaha) in my development in playing guitar and understanding this wonderful instrument. A few years ago I never thought I'd be as good as I am, (I'm still lousy but not AS much).

Your encouragement, patients and kindness are LOUDER than a Marshall Stack any day of the week :).

Speaking of Great Entertainers of our time:

I admire BONO - I don't always agree with his politics, but I like that he's trying to do something with his money and fame.

I'll always think the Led Zepp are "THE" band. Same with the Who and The Floyd.

The Eagles and the Pretenders are the best Bands I've heard Live.

Any music you can listen to over and over and over again, 10, 20, 30 maybe 40 years after the album/song came out has got to be considered great !!

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. - Wernher Von Braun (1912-1977)

Reputable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 395

Believe it or not, my favorite song writer of all time is Curtis Mayfield.

As far as who do I have the most cd's by(top 10, closest order I can think of):
1: King Crimson
2: Keith Jarrett
3: Miles Davis
4: The Rolling Stones
5: The Beatles
6: Phillip Glass
7: Grand Funk Railroad
8: Joni Mitchell
9: The Stranglers
10: Pink Floyd
(and Alice Cooper is probably tied with one of the above)

Brain-cleansing music for brain-numbing times in a brain dead world

Prominent Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 837

Jimi Hendrix. Great singer for what he did. He played amazing electric guitar, and he was very great on acoustic as well (there's a lot bootleg audio of him), and he did play a little piano, which people don't know. He wrote beautiful songs. Great lyrics too. And everyone knows his stage presence. He's changed me as a person.

David Gilmour too. Not as much as Jimi. But damn, could he play guitar or what? I've learned a lot from his guitar playing.

There's plenty of bands I've loved too, but these are just individual people.

Prominent Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 717

let's see: Paul Mc Cartney..he's the most complete artist and composer IMHO
Ray Charles..besides changing the world with soul music, did you hear him playing sax? a master in the organ..and of course the voice.
Van Morrison: he dominates keyboards, sax, guitar, harp, he's a superb songhwriter....and please that voice!
Brian Wilson...the bass player of the Beach Boys, then the superb composer and keyboardist..a beautiful voice..and a visionary.
John Cale: of course Lou Reed put his vision and the lyrics in the Velvet Underground..but Cale (excellent singer, viola player, keyboardist and bass player) put all his classic training . Warning:He's not the blues guitar player Jean Jacques Cale (JJ Cale) who composed Cocaine'.
Ian Anderson: Besides being a wonderful flute player he's skilled with the acoustic guitar is extraordinaire. His songs are classic ,and he's one of the best entertainers on stage.
Richard Thompson: Excellent singer,composer and high class guitarist. Britain's best kept secret.

Of course there are lots of genius and bands that I love , but I added these guys according to the request . :) the way...I loved to see that Curtis Mayfield was mentioned!

Famed Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 2736

John Denver, Bee Gees, Cliff Richard and Green Day.

Others are The Beatles, Billy Joel etc.

Noble Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1106

+ 1 for Rush. The are all musician's musicians, have put together a great library of music, been together since the dinosaurs, AND all seem like decent, down to earth (even shy) guys.

Bob Seger - sings, plays, writes - all very well. Been around a million years too!

Joe Walsh - sure the guy is a COMPLETE mess, but as a musician, singer & songwriter? GREAT!

Brian Setzer - even though I don't love his style of music, the guy can flat out PLAY. Also not a bad singer and a very good songwriter.

Malcolm Young - yes I said Malcolm. Angus is of course a great guitarist, but Malcolm is the backbone of that band. It is HIS riffs that come into your mind when you think of all of their great songs. Yes, he only sings backup and he basically stands in one spot onstage, but HE is the guy I am watching! AND, he has been keeping those guys in line (generally) for years - he is the leader, behind the scenes.

Noble Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1247

Hi :D

I have to agree with Lars....
Dylan IS the GREATEST musician of all time.
(Nice Tele Lars 8) )

I would have to add Stephen Stills.
He fits all the criteria AND was FANTASTIC in the studio.
Listen to Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.
That's pretty much all Stills.
A great producer.

Which just brought to mind Buddy Holly.
The True King of Rock and Roll!!!!
Fits the criteria and was a wonderful producer as well.

For me, studio production is also very important in an artist.


"The man who has begun to live more seriously within
begins to live more simply without"
-Ernest Hemingway

"A genuine individual is an outright nuisance in a factory"
-Orson Welles

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