It's the plight of every musician. You struggle and struggle to make it big in the business, only to find that even the most modest margin of fame barely comes with a modicum of respect. Even artists with a lot of influence on later, more popular musicians fall by the wayside in the annals of rock and roll. After all, the world already has five Rolling Stones. While the Stones can't get no satisfaction, hundreds of other bands can't get no respect. In some circles it's a badge of courage to fawn over the most obscure, unknown bands. There is a joke that as soon as a band becomes well-known it becomes passe to like them. But then there are musicians who are known only for one thing, if for anything at all, whose musical catalogue exhibits the known range and influence five times that of more popular bands. After all, where would Daniel Johnston and Klaus Nomi be if it weren't for documentaries spreading their gospel far and wide? Below, ten musicians She Said thinks deserve more credit.Buddy Holly
Sure, everyone knows who he is, but what goes unnoticed these days is exactly how revolutionary Holly's music was in its own time. He was the first rock and roll musician to write his own songs, the Beatles named themselves after insects in homage to him and even Bob Dylan thanked him during his 1998 Grammy acceptance speech. Watch this video and image hearing any kind of music this fast in 1957.Otis Redding
Everyone knows and loves "Dock of the Bay" (not She Said) but the song was released post-mortem. The whistling part at the end? That's because it wasn't finished yet; Redding's wife, Zelma, tried to prevent its release for that reason. In his short career (he was 26 when he died), Redding wrote tons of songs much better than "Dock," and yet, do you ever hear those on the radio? He also helped launched the career ofBooker T. and the M.G.s
, influenced everyone from the Bee Gees to the Counting Crows and penned the song that became Aretha Franklin'ssignature
of the world know what's up.Prince Buster
Monday, She Said lamented most people'slimited knowledge
when it comes to Jamaican music genres. Might she recommend two study materials? The documentaryThe Studio One Story
and the bookReggae: The Rough Guide
, both of which chronicle the musical genre's evolution from ska to rocksteady to reggae as we know it now. Prince Buster was there in the very beginning, yet few people know him now. His music lives on in more popular covers by The Specials, The Beat, The Toasters and of course Madness. Also, he's still alive and kickin', thank goodness, perhaps because of his10 rules to live by
.Guided by Voices
The kings of lo-fi have such an extended catalogue that one of their albums,Bee Thousand
features 55 tracks, most less than 2 minutes and recorded on four-track recorders. Over the years, founding member Robert Pollard threatened to break up the band many times, mostly in part to years of obscurity. He made good on the promise in 2004 after 21 years of playing together. Oddly, in later years they received lots of critical praise but never had a radio hit. Always the bridesmaid.Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Every October, Screamin' Jay gets trotted out as his biggest hit is added to Halloween playlists. To be fair, it's kind of his own fault. His bizarre sense of fashion, his tendency to scream more than sing (hence the name) and hisquestionable parenting skills
had led to his image as a larger-than-life theatrical character. He originally planned to be an opera singer, but ended up being more Vaudeville than anything else.Gary Numan
Long forgotten after his hit with "Cars," (She Said remembers seeing on VH-1 that he's now a pilot) Gary Numan actually helped develop electronica as we now know it with his post-punk band Tubeway Army. Their song"Are 'Friends' Electric"
spent four weeks at No. 1 on the UK charts in 1979, becoming the first single featuring a synthesizer to hit No. 1. It also led many people to contemplate giving theTuring Test
to their loved ones. His nasal twang can be heard in later electronic music, like the voice of Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys. Also, he performs the entire song above whilst riding in a Rascal-like motorized recliner.Big Mama Thornton
Them crazy crackers stealing hits from early R&B artists and using them to get rich on the rock and roll charts. First Elvis remade her song "Hound Dog" (the lyrics sound better coming from a woman), then Janis Joplin went and remade"Ball and Chain."
She made almost no money off "Hound Dog," despite the fact that it was a No. 1 hit on the R&B charts.Johnny Mercer
Quick. Think of almost any classic movie soundtrack, and it was probably Johnny Mercer who wrote the lyrics. "Moon River," "Accentuate the Positive," "Blues in the Night," "One for My Baby," "Personality," "Autumn Leaves." She Said would list more, but we'd be here all day. Unfortunately for Mercer, most of his songs were made famous by other singers, such as Frank Sinatra. He's probably the most prolific and well-known American songwriter, but being a behind-the-scenes guy, most people don't even know the songs they love were written by him. Team him up with Henry Mancini and you've got the Great American Songbook.Hall & Oates
Don't hate. If this music wasn't so tinged with touches of the '80s (heavy synth, pastel blazers, porny mustaches) Hall & Oates could easily pass as the hip new band of 2010. Daryl Hall's voice is top-notch, they write excellent blue-eyed soul with catchy-as-hell hooks and clever lyrics. She Said knows it's hip to like H&O these days, but she genuinely likes them, not just for ironic value.Bikini Kill
Before there was Le Tigre, Sleater-Kinney and Lady Gaga, there was Bikini Kill. Many a teenage girl's political philosophies were launched by this band's radical lyrics and raunchy sound, at a time when boys were wrapping themselves in flannel and navel-gazing grunge. She Said was a mere 11(!) when she heard their first EP on Kill Rock Stars (thanks to her local record store, which recommended it) and from that moment on, a feminist was born. The Riot Grrrl movement is often attributed to Courtney Love and Hole, but lets look at whereLove
is now compared toKathleen Hanna
. Incidentally, Hanna just donated all of her tons of her
from the Bikini Kill-era to the NYU Library.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.