Who are the most influential bands and artists in the history of rock? Well, start with The Beatles and Elvis, I guess, and for good reason. Chuck Berry, Little Richard, The Stones, of course, The Who and David Bowie. The big names. All of them signed their names on our culture with a fat permanent marker, and in doing so insured that just about all future artists would have to navigate their legacies in one way or another.
The funny thing, though, is just how influential some far, far lesser known artists became. Many people have heard of Velvet Underground, although comparatively few have actually listened to them, but if you factor VU’s overwhelming influence out of our collective cultural history would we have had Bauhaus, Echo & the Bunnymen, Lenny Kravitz, Sonic Youth, Jesus & Mary Chain (and subsequently Black Rebel Motorcycle Club), Galaxie 500 (and the army of bands that followed their lead) and REM?