The most successful recording artists become stars. The most enduring stars become legends. But what do you call the entertainers for whom the word "legend" is an understatement?
Whatever term you use, there's no denying that Sir Elton John belongs in that elite category.
"Guitars don't interest me," insists Orgy guitarist Ryan Shuck. "I've never been interested in playing 'normal' guitar. I never put any time into learning scales or anything like that."
Yet despite--or perhaps because of--the attitude Shuck has generated some of the most striking guitar textures in recent rock. Orgy's breakthrough disc, Candyass, and its recent follow-up, Vapor Transmission, are packed with otherworldly textures concocted by Shuck and co-guitarist Amir Derakh.
If simplicity is a virtue, Rick Marotta is a fine man indeed.
Marotta's ability to lay down the perfect groove unburdened by ego and needless complexity, has enshrined his drumming on records by Aretha Franklin, Carly Simon, Steely Dan, James Taylor, Paul Simon, John Lennon, Hall & Oates, Stevie Nicks, Wynonna, Roy Orbison, Todd Rundgren, Roberta Flack, Peter Frampton, Quincy Jones, Jackson Browne, Waylon Jennings, Randy Newman, Kenny G., the Jacksons, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and many others. He has also worked extensively as a producer, music director, and film and television composer.
How do you sell songs without selling out?
"That's the line that every professional songwriter has to walk," says Nashville tunesmith Gary Nicholson. "There's a thin strip of acceptability in the country music market, and sometimes making a living there means you have to think of the job almost like working at an ad agency. But at the same time, most of my real successes have been the songs I wrote with no thoughts like that at all."
Charissa Saverio, the artist known as DJ Rap, is one of dance music's most compelling figures. While many pop fans have only known of her since the 1999 release of her Learning Curve album, Saverio has, in fact, been a major force in drum-'n'-bass music since the genre's emergence a decade ago. She later made a similar splash in the "big beat" scene.
Composer Trevor Rabin makes success look simple. Rabin has proven himself three times over. Before leaving his native South Africa, he played with the band Rabbit, whose regional popularity rivaled that of the Beatles. Soon after he started working in America and the U.K., his songwriting, production, and guitar virtuosity helped spur the veteran progressive-rock group Yes to its greatest commercial successes. And shortly after amicably exiting Yes, he established himself as one of Hollywood's most in-demand film composers.
Jon Anderson has resided at the forefront of musical technology since he founded the band Yes with bassist Chris Squire in 1968. The boundary-breaking spirit of Yes' two-dozen albums is also apparent in Anderson's collaborations with electronic music pioneer Vangelis and various Latin American musicians. We spoke to Jon about his current endeavor, an as-yet-untitled solo album. It's his first play-everything/sing-everything project since 1976's Olias of Sunhillow.
As Jewel's new guitarist and music director, Mark Oakley faces many sail-or-fail situations, like today's live appearance on the Rosie O'Donnell Show. But he says he seldom gets uptight: "I'm never nervous, even in a situation like playing on Jay Leno, where if you screw up, you're screwed. It's just pure excitement."