Monday, 29 September 2014

Unsung Musical Heroes Pt2

We are continuing our theme of unsung musical heroes. These are people who were, or are, fantastically gifted and talented musicians. However, for whatever reasons fame or proper recognition has eluded them. These things eluded them either in their own lifetimes, or altogether.
First up is John Paul Jones. And no, if you are thinking it, I am not talking about the Pope. John Paul Jones was the bass player, keyboard, and all-around instrumentalist for the 1960s and 1970s super group Led Zeppelin. Jones had the good fortune, and in a way, the misfortune of being in Led Zeppelin. He was overshadowed by flamboyant front man Robert Plant, iconic rock guitarist Jimmy Page, and wild man and legendary drummer John Bonham.
Jones had a hand in writing some of the bands best songs. He wrote the memorable guitar riff for Black Dog. By the way this has a chromatic run in it. If you hear chromatic riffs in Led Zeppelin songs, it was Jones and not Page who came up with them. Jones also had a hand in writing Kashmir (which many, including me, consider to be their best song), No Quarter, and All of My Love, just to name a few. Beyond Zeppelin, Jones continued to be very active writing and producing. If you shredded his resume you could probably throw a ticker tape parade in New York City.
Okay, next up is Phil Keaggy. I would bet dollars to doughnuts that Phil Keaggy is the best guitarist you have never heard of. Part of the Keaggy myth is that Jimi Hendrix said Keaggy was one of the best guitarists he had ever heard. (That myth was debunked. Hendrix never said it. However, Hendrix did complement the playing of Billy Gibbons of later Z.Z. Top fame.) Part of the issue with Keaggy is he has never had a Top 40 hit, and that he has mainly been associated with the Christian or Gospel genre for most of his career. He is in the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
Other guitar players have recognized Keaggy's brilliant playing. At times, he has been voted one of the premiere finger picker or acoustic guitar players in the world. He is also an excellent electric guitarist. Keaggy has a mastery of the instrument and many different playing techniques. His playing is very fluid and smooth. He has done over 50 albums, so he has a lot of material to pick from. If you want to check out Keaggy, I recommend listening to Beyond Nature. Beyond Nature is an acoustic album.
The next slot goes to bass player Michael Manring. I bet you have never heard of Manring either. Manring has played on over a hundred albums. He has released some solo material, but was also a studio player for Windham Hill records, among other things. He is my personal favorite bass player. When Manring is in the groove, it is pure bliss. Part of his trademark sound is finger slides on a fretless bass and a vibrato that is angelic.
He can also rip it up with tapping and other pyro-techniques (like playing three basses at the same time). But my favorite is just listening to him play and making his bass sing like a David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) solo. I have a couple of his solo albums (Unusual Weather, Drastic Measures) that I have practically worn out. They have one of those rare musical traits. Rather than getting tired and bored from listening to them over and over again, they still sound better every I time I hear them.
Well, I am sure there are many other unsung musical heroes out there. You may be one of them. You know when buying art they say you should only buy what you personally like. Don't buy art for any other reason. Well the same advice can be used with music. If you love listening playing and/or listening to music, just do it because you love it. Fame and fortune may come, or it may not. Just remember that fame and fortune cannot really compare to the priceless gift we have in music anyway, can it?
If you liked this article, then you should check out You will find more articles and various musical resources.
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