Half a century after his death in a plane crash in Wisconsin, singer Otis Redding still has an uncanny power to move people. Here’s a compilation of songs that offer ample evidence of why Redding deserves a treasured place in pop-music history.
George Michael never looked the role of a musical freedom fighter. Between his Adonis-like features, his stylish, camera-ready wardrobe and his devotion to dance music made him appear as a pop star keener to keep the party going than in tearing the whole proceeding down. And yet, Michael once stood up for artistic purpose and threatened to dismantle the pop-music machine that had built him into a global superstar. And he did it with the most unlikely of tools: a hit song.
Although sometimes seen as a divisive figure among music fans and the industry in general, former Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland had an undeniable impact with a steady string of alternative-rock hits in the 1990s and early ’00s. His death on Thursday offers a chance to reflect on those contributions.
Authors and critics might be correct when they write off Detroit-area saxophone player Steve Mackay as simply a sideman to the Iggy Pop-led Stooges in the early ’70s, but doing so sadly undervalues the importance of his contributions. Hired hand or not, any musician would want to be involved in making a musical masterwork.
It’s a cliché that a genius’ work is often only recognized after death, but this will surely be the case when history renders its final assessment of maverick jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman. His life’s work was anything but a worn-out cliché.
Hailed in his lifetime as “the king of the blues,” B.B. King had a lot to live up to. Thankfully, this was one blues legend who truly lived up to the billing. He died on Thursday at the age of 89 years old.
To most of the listening public, the name “Percy Sledge” is the answer to a trivia question: What soul singer sang the 1966 romantic classic, “When A Man Loves A Woman”? However, Sledge was a lot more than just a one-hit wonder.
Like so many of the old-school R&B, blues and soul legends that the classic-rock generation idolized, Joe Cocker was a singer, first and foremost.
While journalists and fans alike have long appropriated the description of “journeyman” as a nickname for Eric Clapton — chiefly because it was the title for Slowhand’s tacky 1989 album — the descriptor is really a better fit for Clapton’s erstwhile and largely forgotten Cream bandmate, bassist Jack Bruce.
Jazz double bassist Charlie Haden modeled another pathway to upending the established musical order: the role of the insurgent. Playing for years behind many of music’s most overt sonic mavericks, Haden unassumingly did much to break down barriers separating genres and styles.