Watching the remarkable run of the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Championship made me appreciate the under appreciated. In my opinion Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan are two of the most underrated coach and athlete in any sport. Their record speaks for itself but when fans talk about “the best ever” their names rarely come up. It got me thinking about the musicians whose records and contributions to music have eclipsed their fame. Therefore I present the five most underrated musicians of all time.
5. Todd Rundgren- Ok so he had some hits in the mid 1970s and has done enough weird things to eliminate him from most civil conversations however, the musical hermit has been a huge influence on and behind dozens of historical releases. From his solo projects like “Something/Anything” to his magnificent work with Utopia on masterpieces like “Oops! Wrong Planet” to his production work on ‘Stage Fright” for The Band to the multi-million seller “Bat Out Of Hell,” by Meatloaf, Rundgren has established himself as a Wizard and True Star of the music world.
4. Duane Allman- The guitar wiz has of course been recognized with induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his work with his brother Greg and his contributions in 24 short years while on earth are legendary; however, today’s young rock fans barely know he existed. Ranked by Rolling Stone Magazine as the second best guitarist of all time behind Jimi Hendrix, Allman appeared on some classic albums and legendary songs with little fanfare. Stars from Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett to Eric Clapton used Allman on some of the most memorable songs ever recorded. His work on Clapton’s “Layla” alone merits guitar god status yet few music fans give the Skydog his due.
3. Steve Howe- Another one of the guitar gods, Howe remains an innovator of the highest order. As one of the founding members of the progressive rock group Yes, Howe is a guitarists’ guitarist. Legions of wanna-bes still attend Yes’ shows just to watch to see how he does it. Classically trained, Howe mixes superb technique with brilliant speed and tempo changes that drives some of the most advanced music ever recorded.
2. Jim James- Today’s modern Pete Townsend, James leads the powerhouse My Morning Jacket, contributes as an equal to Monsters Of Folk and has produced a fitting tribute to his hero George Harrison. As bandleader, James writes and produces all of the band’s albums and is an unparalleled live entertainer. My Morning Jacket’s concerts remind concertgoers of legendary Who shows. James is so prolific he needs an alter ego to record. He has appeared as Yim Yames on albums ranging from the Decemberists’ to the one classic eponymous album from Monsters Of Folk.
1. Mike Campbell- Who? See my point exactly. You have heard him on dozens of the best rock songs of the past thirty years and at sixty-three years old he continues to tear it apart on stage as he did this past weekend by closing Bonnaroo in epic style. His contributions as a six string slinger on record include the classic “Boys Of Summer” with Don Henley as well as “Sixth Avenue Heartache” with the Wallflowers. He has worked in near obscurity in a band that ranks as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, American band of all time and few even know his name. You see, Campbell is the driving force of the Heartbreakers. You know Tom Petty’s “back up” band.