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Well, maybe not EVERYONE needs to know about them, but if you have even a remote interest in music, you should probably be familiar with these music figures.
My Top 10 Famous Musicians
Sufjan is a monster of a writer. On top of his already ridiculous repertoire of tunes, he’s also released 10 Volumes of Christmas albums, totaling over 100 songs. This was done in his spare time.
His “Age of Adz” album is one of the most well-produced, and well made albums I’ve ever heard. It’s one of those albums that consistently battles for my “Best Album of All Time” personal awards.
Sufjan toured with more than 10 musicians on his Age of Adz tour, including 2 drummers, to play all the amazing compositions he has to offer.
He’s done folk music, indie, electronic, and orchestral (a full orchestral album). He’s an incredibly diverse and open-minded guy, and is one of my favorite musicians of all time.
Thom Yorke is mainly responsible for all things Radiohead, one of the most incredible bands around this day.
Although his main instruments are Guitar and Piano (And vocals), he has also been known to play drums and bass as well.
If you’ve heard Radiohead before, you will know why Thom Yorke is on this list. In fact, if you have heard music before, you will know why he is on this list.
He’s been involved not only in Radiohead, but has done lots of extra work with incredible figures like Flying Lotus.
If you haven’t heard them before, I suggest you start with their groundbreaking album “Kid a“, it is one of my favorites.
Not only is Aaron Turner the Vocalist and Guitarist for the amazingly emotional Isis, but he is also an incredible artist, responsible for all the album Artwork for Isis, as well as over 50 other album covers for bands such as Converge, Pelican, and The Dillinger Escape Plan.
He is also largely included in the bands Old Man Gloom, Lotus Eaters, House Of Low Culture, Twilight, Unionsuit, Mamiffer, Jodis, and Greymachine.
I actually saw him in concert with Isis at the Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver.
The highlight of my night was when they played the song “So Did We” from their album “Panopticon” which is my preferred album from them.
Zach Hill is only one of the most insane drummers in the world. I actually consider him my favorite drummer of all time.
His incredibly nonsensical rhythms and time signatures, heard especially in the band Hella, and his use of double kick drumming (While only using a single kick pedal) has become what I would call a Musical Phenomenon.
He has been involved with other musicians such as Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, Daran Malakian (Scars on Broadway), and Mick Barr.
I would say…my favorite album he did was when Hella was a 5-piece band (For a single album) and recorded “There’s No 666 in Outer Space (Dig)“. It’s absolutely incredible.
Speaking of incredible…
Trent Reznor is a key pioneer of electronic industrial music, and he’s big on political statements.
Trent Reznor is the Frontman for Nine Inch Nails. He writes the music, and hires other artists to play with him in concert.
He has been known for his use of electronic beats, and some unfathomable guitar and bass tones so don’t try listening in your car unless you have a good car sub installed.
He also has done a good job at Introducing new Music Distribution Methods.
I honestly believe the best Nine Inch Nails album was “The Fragile“, just before Trent went into rehab for the next several years of his life in 1998 (I mean the album was recorded then, not when he went to rehab).
Maynard James Keenan
Need I say more? Well I will, but just a bit.
Maynard James Keenan is the “head” of Tool, writing the lyrics, and essentially just making it rule (Although they wouldn’t be Tool without Danny Carey, Justin Chancellor, and Adam Jones).
He is involved in some other incredible acts, such as A Perfect Circle and Puscifer.
I would consider Maynard to be one of the best lyricists in the world. His ability to craft amazing metaphors and touch on complicated subjects is uncanny. He had a huge impact on me as I was growing up and creating my musical identities.
I salute you Maynard James Keenan.
And I think you should too. If you haven’t heard much of Tool before, then you need to listen to their 2nd studio album, “Aenima“.
Steven Wilson is the front man for Porcupine Tree.
Porcupine Tree, although the name is…odd, is one of my favorite bands of all time.
Along with Maynard, Wilson is a genius at crafting lyrics that just seem to make sense. Lyrics that are powerful and melodic and rhythmic, all at the same time.
Wilson also has a solo project, and has worked with famed metal band Opeth on multiple records.
Also, he has an incredible stage presence when you see him live like I did.
I think one of his best works was actually just the outtakes from the Fear of A Blank Planet album. It was titled “Nil Recurring“.
This list is becoming increasingly difficult to write, as the Artists just keep becoming more and more Diverse.
I want you to take an Arabic Ninja, now have him breed with a 50’s Rapper. Then throw in some 60’s Italian mobsters, and you might have a shadow of Mike Patton’s Diversity.
My Favorite Mike Patton Project is Mr. Bungle, although I feel his most psychedlic band is Fantomas.
Did I forget to mention his long existence in Faith No More? What about his invention of Tomahawk? Or his Pop/Hip-hop band “Peeping Tom”, or Hemopheliac, or Rahzel?
How about the fact that he is such an incredible vocalist that he has been featured on many video games for creepy voices, such as The Darkness, Left 4 Dead, and Bionic Commando?
Basically, this guy has chops when it comes to music (And Vocals).
So if you’ve never heard him before, I highly recommend one of his newer albums, “Peeping Tom“. Mike Patton said “It is what I would want to hear on the radio…you know…if I listened to the radio”.
Not only is Omar Rodriguez-Lopez responsible for De-loused In The Comatorium (Which I consider to be THE greatest album to ever exist), and pretty much anything the Mars Volta creates, but since beating his Opiate addiction has become one of the hardest working, and most productive musicians of the decade.
I mean, in 2009 alone, he wrote and produced 7 albums. Seven Albums! Do you realize how incredibly preposterous that is? And these aren’t just some lame albums. There are incredible pieces of work, that he somehow just seems to pull out of thin air. (Except for maybe “Despair”, which sounds a lot like thin air)
The guy is insanely good, and is responsible for some of the greatest work to come out in the last 15 years, including the critically acclaimed Relationship Of Command when he was involved in At The Drive-in
If you’ve never heard it before, then you need to take a listen to “De-Loused in the Comatorium“. It will blow your mind.
And we get to the Piece de Resistance. Frank Zappa.
I cannot, and will not, be able to sum up all of Frank Zappa’s entirety in just words, but will give you a vague idea of how big Frank Zappa is.
Frank Zappa has Written, Recorded, and Produced over 60 Albums, has influenced such a countless amount of artists it’s not even funny.
Just take a look at his Wikipedia page. I think it would take several hours just to look through all that.
I regard him as the greatest composer of all time, with this insane Avantgarde style, I often will even use the word “Zappa” as an adjective for greatness.
One of my best friends has his full discography. Over 12gb’s of music, and over 1400 songs.
Now that…that is something else. Frank Zappa is simply out of this world, and you should do whatever you can to get your hands on all of his music.
He is that incredible, and there is a big reason he is #1 on this list.
If you’ve never heard Frank Zappa, or haven’t heard much from him and are looking to listen to his material, I recommend The Best of Frank Zappa to start you off. It really does give you a good idea of what Frank Zappa is all about!
Discover More Famous Musicians!
So take this knowledge, and fill your life with some more incredible music.
The best way to discover new music, is to just find all the acts any of these great artists are associated with (on their Wikipedia page it has a place for “Associated Acts”), and listen to their music. Eventually you will have a huge, ever-growing web that will keep you expanding in your music abilities and taste.
You might also be interested in checking out the article ‘My Top 40 Songs You Need to Hear Before You Die‘ for some more inspiration.