Favorite bands and musicians? My list is long. Picking one for each letter of the alphabet is challenging. Sometimes you have to work around a first name or last.
Alan Parsons Project – A studio creation, two talented guys wrote the intricate songs and hired musicians to help create the music. For nearly a decade, everything these two produced was gold.
Beatles – Simply, the best musical group of all time.
Crosby, Stills & Nash – The voice of the late 1960s and early 1970s, perfect three-part harmonies and tough social musical anthems. Occasionally augmented by Neil Young.
Dylan – Dylan, Bob Dylan. The minstrel, the poet, the prophet, the man who electrified folk music.
Eagles – Maybe the most successful rock band of the 1970s, they certainly sold a lot of records and had many radio hits. Blending soulful harmonies and a country vibe, the Eagles became known for sophisticated lyrics about the contemporary lifestyle.
Fixx – During the 1980s, the Fixx rivaled U2 as an innovative sound. “Saved By Zero” and “One Thing Leads to Another” we’re big hits.
Genesis – The progressive rock band that morphed into one of the biggest mainstream rock bands in the world. As their membership decreased, their popularity increased.
Hall and Oates – The most successful duo in recording history. They had a few hits in the 1970s before finding their sound in the next decade, then suddenly stopped.
Billy Idol – For a brief time, the snarling rocker was a pretty big deal. He bridged the punk genre with more traditional 1980s rock. Idol and guitarist Steve Stevens churned out some angry but melodic tunes. “Rebel Yell” and “Eyes Without a Face” were big chart hits.
Jethro Tull – Hard rock, folk, progressive, classical, blues, this group blended everything into a distinct sound. And using a flute.
Kinks – The Davies brothers rocked as hard as the Stones but we’re more cerebral in their story songs. Grounded by a long riff between the brothers.
Led Zeppelin – Thunder of the Gods, Zeppelin were the hard rock band of the era. Their songs are now used for mainstream commercials. Rock stars of enormous excess.
Moody Blues – Heady and ethereal psychedelic pop, this band took you on journeys to space and within your mind. One of the first bands to blend orchestral elements into their music and use of the Mellotron for atmospheric textures.
Neil Young – The original punk and grungemeister, who could shred his angry guitar or write poignant and melancholy love songs. Never content to repeat himself, changing direction on a dime.
Ozark Mountain Daredevils – Missouri boys who mixed their country sound with smoother pop hits. “Jackie Blue” and “If You Want to Get to Heaven” we’re examples of their talent.
Pink Floyd – Starting out as a quirky psychedelic pop band that grew into bold, visionary rock concept statements, and huge stadium shows. The works of Floyd still reverberate as societal warnings.
Queen – A glam band of epic proportions, riding Freddie Mercury’s grand persona. There were hits and also great material deeper on their albums.
Rolling Stones – The Stones need no introduction. Their best period was 1969-1974, the Mick Taylor years.
Steely Dan – Becker and Fagan created their own genre of sophisticated pop-rock, borrowing from jazz and R&B styling, and running it through their own filter of contemporary music. Their story-lyrics were often as opaque as their musical chord structure, unpredictable and challenging to the listener. After a few listens, their song would burn a hole in your brain and it began to make sense.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Like Dylan and Springsteen, Tom Petty wrote thoughtful and challenging songs. Both solo and with the Heartbreakers, Petty distilled the dreams and struggles than anyone could relate and feel he was writing about them. Gone too soon.
U2 – Perhaps the greatest band over the past forty years. They constantly search for a new sound, sometimes a bullseye, occasionally a miss.
Van Morrison – Blue-eyed soul. Morrison has reinvented himself over time. From smooth pop hits to eclectic Celtic folk, to jazz and songbook classics, you never know what you will get. Morrison never comfortably settled into a genre.
Who – Born of rebellion, The Who did not originate the concept album but are the most successful with their rock operas. The Who influenced bold, angry musicians that followed. “Won’t Get Fooled Again” became a rallying cry.
XTC – This 1980s English group delivered eclectic pop. An acquired taste, this band continued the Beatles’ Rubber Soul/Revolver period.
Yes – Perhaps the most creative of the progressive rock bands, hugely successful and with the most internal and combustible energy.
Z Z Top – Texas blues, R&B and hard rock, this trio combined them into aggressive and searing barroom anthems.