The Greatest American Band Debate: Influencers

SeedSing is filled with music lovers. We can not agree on who is the best band from the States. The Greatest American Band Debate will be a regular feature where we discuss and compare bands who started in the good old USA. If you have any suggestions of bands we should debate Contact us

When  it comes to music, no one is completely unique.

Continuing our discussion on the website of the greatest American band, I want to focus on influential bands today. I'm not going to single out one specific band, I will give my readers many examples. The one problem I ran into doing research for this piece, it was hard to find American bands that were truly influential. It was easy to find bands from the UK that were influential. You can take Pink Floyd and see their influence on many current bands like Radiohead or Muse. You can take Led Zeppelin and see their influence on bands like the White Stripes and Black Keys. There's so many more from the UK that have influenced American bands. Doing further research, I found that these bands from the UK were influenced by American musicians, but not bands. Zeppelin and Cream were heavily influenced by guys like Robert Johnson and Son House. In fact, a lot of the UK musicians were very influenced by blues musicians from the 20's and 30's. So, like I said, it was tough, but with help from my father, we found a good number of influential American bands.

When we talked, the first band that came up was the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. If you listen to our most recent podcast, you know that's my dad's favorite band. What makes them so influential, they had great musicians playing great, rocking blues music. Their writing was top notch. You take a band like the Black Keys, and as much as Zeppelin influenced them, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band was just as important to shaping their music. The same could be said for a band like Buffalo Springfield. This is another band that had great musicians and wrote great songs, and members of Buffalo Springfield would break away and do some really big things in the music industry. Stephen Stills and David Crosby were in Buffalo Springfield before they were Crosby, Stills and Nash. I love music that has distortion in it. It's my favorite effect on guitar. That's where a band like Ike Turner's Rockin 88's come into play. The story goes, while traveling, their amps fell off the car and were sliced. Ike and the band didn't know what to do or where to get new amps, so they used them. While playing, the guitar sounded gruff, but they all liked it. Distortion was born. Look at any number of rock bands, be it RATM or Soundgarden or Alabama Shakes, and you can hear how important distortion is to their music. Another, bigger band, Sly and the Family Stone, brought the concept of playing funky rock and roll, while having a big band feel. The way they injected horns and funk in their music reminds me a lot of what a band like Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears are doing right now. You can take bands like the Eagles and Three Dog Night and see the influence they have on bands that focus on the vocals and harmonies in their music. Take a band like the Killers and see how much the Eagles and Three Dog Night meant to them getting started in music. A band I never really listened to until my dad told me about and have recently listened to and kind of enjoy is ELO. They have a unique electric sound and most of their music is all instrumental. I can see how a band like Ratatat was influenced by ELO. Some of their songs sound identical. It's uncanny.

Even bands from the 80's have influenced current bands. Look at Blondie, they had a cute blonde girl as their lead singer, and a bunch of dudes begin her. Tell me Grace Potter and the Nocturnals weren't influenced by that. They have the exact same makeup to their band. The Talking Heads were this avant garde, take all kinds of risks kind of band. If you just listened to them, I bet you wouldn't be able to guess what they looked like. I look at someone like Har Mar Superstar and feel the same way. He and his band play funky, R&B music, but Har Mar looks exactly like Ron Jeremy. When I first heard him and the Talking Heads, I felt the same. I loved the music, but I had no idea what these musicians looked like. Devo had a big influence on electronic/rock music. They took big chances and hit home runs every time. I look at a current band like TV on the Radio and see they were heavily influenced by Devo. Aerosmith, with their accessible to all ages rock music reminds me a lot of the Foo Fighters. Even a band like Nirvana has influenced younger musicians. I look at Conor Oberst and I just know that he listened to a ton of Nirvana. His lyrics are almost as poetic as Kurt Cobain and just as sad sometimes.

So, there are a lot of influential American bands. You have to do some research, but you can see how influential a lot of the bands from the 60's and 70's are on current day musicians. Go check out some of the bands I've mentioned today and compare them to who you are currently listening too, it may surprise you.

Go out and seek older music too, you will see the influence, I promise you.

Ty (With a little help from his dad)

Ty is the Pop Culture Editor for SeedSing and the co-host of The X Millennial Man Podcast. The biggest musical influence in his life is Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. Follow Ty on twitter @tykulik.