In a 2005 interview with Esquire, Johnny Depp discusses the unwavering authenticity of Hunter S. Thompson, and likens his late friend to another great, often-troubled mind, saying:
"...like Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators, a band out of Texas. They were basically the first psychedelic-rock band. 1965. And if you listen to old 13th Floor Elevators stuff -- Roky Erickson especially, his voice -- and then go back and listen to early Led Zeppelin, you know that Robert Plant absolutely copped everything from Roky Erickson. And it's amazing. And Roky Erickson is sitting in Austin, Texas; he's just there. And Robert Plant had a huge hit. It always goes back to those guys, you know? I love those fucking guys."
Yes, Johnny, it does always go back to those guys -- the pioneers at the forefront of a movement, all but forgotten in the shadow of those who followed down the road they paved -- especially when you're talking to a musician.
Tell a musician you're drinking an "it" band's Kool-Aid and you're likely to get the names of several far more obscure acts allegedly doing the same thing a week/month/decade before. The phenomenon occurs so often we've come to label such artists as "band's bands" -- groups other musicians revere but the general public is more or less indifferent to -- and we've listed some of the more common examples below.
Joe Satriani We polled several local musicians for this piece, and Joe Satriani was right at the top of every guitar dude's list of music greats the average Joe has never heard of. In addition to his own personal success as a Grammy-nominated solo artist and lead guitar for Mick Jagger, Deep Purple, and Chickenfoot, Satriani has influenced countless other bands as instructor to big name guitar gods like Steve Vai, Eric Johnson and Kirk Hammett of Metallica, to name a few. He also is a founding member of the G3 touring trio and has his own line of guitars (Ibanez JS Series) and Vox distortion pedals named for the signature Satriani-esque effects they produce, like "The Satchurator" and "Big Bad Wah".
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John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers Since its inception in 1963 the blues band's ever-changing lineup has included more than 100 different musicians, all playing backup to English singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist John Mayall. And for some, a stint as a Bluesbreaker was a kind of internship for rock greatness, with many former members going on to join legendary acts like The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Frank Zappa, Lou Reed, Sammy Hagar, and Journey, and a few becoming legends in their own right (Eric Clapton, Mick Fleetwood).
My Bloody Valentine The Irish alternative rock band at the forefront of shoegazing, characterized by heavy use of distortion pedals and more focus placed on guitar effects and creating "a wall of sound" than vocal melodies or dynamic stage performance -- and a major inspiration on groups like Smashing Pumpkins and Silver Sun Pickups. The group separated shortly after the release of the widely acclaimed Loveless (1991), of which Spin's Chuck Klosterman wrote, "Whenever someone uses the phrase 'swirling guitars', this record is why."
Sonic Youth Originally associated with New York City No Wave, the band was part of the first surge of noise rock in the early 80s and widely credited as a pivotal force in the rise of alternative and indie rock genres. The New York Times described their signature sound -- achieved through heavy use of alternate guitar tunings -- as "the most startlingly original guitar-based music since Jimi Hendrix".
Kraftwerk Many of the driving rhythms, electronic effects, vocoders, and computer generated vocals commonplace to modern music can be traced back to the music of Kraftwerk, lauded as the pioneers of electronic music. While much of their early work sounds like the soundtrack for SNL's "Sprockets," the Krautrockers were nothing short of revolutionary in the 1970s and 80s, and the influence of their music can be seen in the work of countless artists over a wide range of genres, from Joy Division and New Order to David Bowie, Beck, and Jay Z.