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I think the material is excellent. I’ve benefited so much. I’ve now begun to improvise with some confidence and have written songs that feel authentic. I can now develop musically in a broad and rich way. Your work has illuminated an exciting path forward.– Roger
To write guitar parts, vocal melodies, chord progressions and to arrange songs you must learn from the big names.
You must dig deep and find out what they did.
Behind every single song you learn in the step by step courses, there’s an artist or band with an entire catalogue of music that you can learn from.
To find out more about them, follow the links below.
Similarly to Supertramp, 10cc was almost prog/rock/pop with long instrumental sections and lots of different styles mixed.
Major hits include ‘Dreadlock Holiday’ and’ I’m Not In Love’.
To find out more, go to 10cc biography.
Among his hits, you’ll find ‘Let’s Stay Together’ and ‘Take Me To The River’. However, Al Green also sang many covers including ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’, ‘Unchained Melody’, ‘Light My Fire’ and ‘My Girl’.
Most soul singers have Al Green as one of their main heroes. Even today, past his 60th birthday, he is still a fantastic singer.
To find out more, go to Al Green biography.
Not many singers enter the charts instantly with their debut album. Usually, it takes not just months of preparation but also a soft release, a build and then a few more singles before the audience catch on.
When Alicia Keys released ‘Songs In Am’ in 2001, she could not have anticipated the huge success with 236.000 sales in the first week or the 12 million copies her debut album eventually sold worldwide.
Followed up by more albums as well as acting in major feature films, Alicia Keys has become a household name.
To find out more, go to Alicia Keys biography.
Two of her better-known songs are ‘I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down’ and ‘I Can’t Stand The Rain’.
Many artists are influenced by Ann including Missy Elliot and the legendary Tina Turner!
To find out more, go to Ann Peebles biography.
Harper’s first album ‘Welcome To The Cruel World’ (1994) was followed by ‘Fight For Your Mind’ only a year later. It was at this point that the word of Ben Harper began to spread.
Often touring Europe and other non-American territories, he created a dedicated following the world over.
To find out more, go to Ben Harper biography.
Smith is often regarded as one of the greatest singers of her era (the 20s and 30s) and along with Louis Armstrong, a major influence on subsequent jazz vocalists.
Over the past twenty-five years, Bessie Smith has been inducted into several Hall Of Fames including Rock And Roll, Big Band And Jazz, Blues, Grammy Lifetime Achievement and the Nesuhi Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame.
To find out more, go to Bessie Smith biography.
After his debut in ’71, Bill Withers achieved three Grammy Awards and one NAACP Award for ‘Male Singer Of The Year’.
Some of his best-known songs include ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’, ‘Use Me’, ‘Lovely Day’, ‘Lean on Me’, ‘Grandma’s Hands’ and ‘Just The Two Of Us’.
To find out more, go to Bill Withers biography.
Some might even say that he invented modern songwriting. It is difficult to find an artist post ’60 who has not been heavily influenced by Bob Dylan, directly or indirectly.
His classics include a huge selection of songs, ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’, ‘Mr Tambourine Man’, ‘Hurricane’, ‘Mr Bojangles’, ‘Knocking On Heavens Door’, ‘All Along The Watchtower’, ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’, ‘Like A Rolling Stone’, ‘One More Cup Of Coffee’, ‘Sara’ and ‘Make You Feel My Love’!
To find out more, go to Bob Dylan biography.
Marley is the most widely known performer of reggae music and regarded by many as a prophet of the Rastafarian religion.
Few artists have had such widespread recognition as Bob Marley.
Between ’73, the year of his first major tour and ’81, when he sadly passed away due to cancer, Bob Marley became one of our times most recognised performers.
To find out more, go to Bob Marley biography.
Richard was on piano and Karen was eventually on vocals although her road to becoming a singer was a long and complicated one.
At first, Karen started out playing the Glockenspiel which she hated. She eventually turned to drums and thought she found her calling, practising rudiments and press rolls for hours on end. Karen was set on becoming a professional drummer.
To find out more, go to Carpenters biography.
Aguilera started her career in The Mickey Mouse Club, an American TV show, alongside Britney and Justin Timberlake.
These days she sells out stadiums worldwide and has inspired thousands of young singers. Hits include ‘Beautiful’, ‘Genie In A Bottle’ and ‘What A Girl Wants’.
To find out more, go to Christina Aguilera biography.
The same year he also received an Oscar and a Golden Globe Award.
Cross’ career started to decline when he released his third album, Every Turn Of The World, in 1985 which didn’t make the top 40.
To find out more, go to Christopher Cross biography.
In Clarence Williams’ early career, he worked at the local Vaudeville Theatre in New Orleans where he honed his skills as a pianist, arranger and writer.
Touring and recording with some of the most legendary blues artists of his time, Clarence Williams spent time with W.C Hardy, Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong.
To find out more, go to Clarence Williams biography.
Starting off in ’96, Coldplay had three intense years of band members coming and going. They eventually formed a democracy where all band members had an equal share of all revenue, including publishing.
Following this, Coldplay released ‘Parachutes’ in ’00 and took British alternative rock in a new direction.
Surrounded by other British bands like Travis, Keane and Radiohead, as well as being heavily influenced by U2 and R.E.M, Coldplay was set for stadium greatness!
To find out more, go to Coldplay biography.
Cream’s sound could be described as a hybrid of blues, pop and psychedelic rock. Their hits include ‘Crossroads’, ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’, ‘Strange Brew’ and ‘White Room’.
Cream was a phenomenon that giants like Jimi Hendrix looked up to during their active time, as well as inspiring thousands of bands since.
To find out more, go to Cream biography.
Rice moved to Italy to start afresh writing songs and busking his way around Europe.
Back in Ireland, Rice got in touch with David Arnold and together they recorded the album ‘O’ in ’02. This launched Damien Rice to the world and had the hit ‘Cannonball’ on it.
To find out more, go to Damien Rice biography.
After a few more collaborations with Ronson, they finally made a solo album for Merriweather that was released in ’09.
Influences such as Stevie Wonder and Jeff Buckley are clear without it feeling like a rip-off.
To find out more, go to Daniel Merriweather biography.
Bowie’s most well-known albums include ‘Space Oddity’, ‘Hunky Dory’, ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’ and ‘Heroes’.
His biggest hits include ‘(Is There) Life On Mars?’, ‘Starman’, ‘Ziggy Stardust’, ‘Let’s Dance’, ‘China Girl’ and ‘Heroes’.
To find out more, go to David Bowie biography.
Known for his melodic ability and fantastic tone, David Gilmour has always been up there with the great British guitar players such as Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Peter Green, Gary Moore, Jeff Beck, Brian May and Mark Knopfler.
To find out more, go to David Gilmour biography.
The single ‘Babylon’ and his head shaking singing style made him world famous.
Since the release of ‘White Ladder’ and the success that followed it, David Gray has toured the world and released several albums.
To find out more, go to David Gray biography.
Deep Blue Something
Initially named Leper Messiah, the band changed their name when they discovered that Metallica fans turned up to their gigs (Metallica have a song called Leper Messiah).
To find out more, go to Deep Blue Something biography.
McLean’s career as a recording artist started only two years prior to ‘American Pie’.
With the album, ‘Tapestry’, he entered the folk scene where he made friends with Pete Seeger and joined the circuit.
When McLean’s indie label Media Arts got sold to United Artists, he got an unexpected chance to make his second album for a major label.
To find out more, go to Don McLean biography.
On the silver screen, Doris Day has acted against Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Jack Lemon, Cary Grant and Clark Gable. Among her most famed vocal performances are ‘Dream A Little Dream Of Me’, ‘Que Sera, Sera’ and ‘Over The Rainbow’.
To find out more, go to Doris Day biography.
His guitar has brought him to studios and stages with legends such as Bob Dylan, The Beatles, B.B King, SRV, Freddie King and Sheryl Crow. Sheryl Crow even wrote ‘My Favorite Mistake’ about Clapton.
Clapton’s long career has earned him not one, not two but three inductions into the ‘Rock and Roll’ Hall Of Fame (as a solo artist with Yardbirds and Cream).
To find out more, go to Eric Clapton biography.
An amateur recording of Eva playing ‘Over The Rainbow’ in her local pub was played on Top of the Pops 2, a TV show in the UK.
The producer, Mark Hagen, was having doubts about playing it on air due to the video’s poor quality and amateur style of recording but took the risk by airing it on December 13th ’00.
To find out more, go to Eva Cassidy biography.
All of these elements came together in the video for ‘1234’.
In ’09, Feist decided to take a short break before recording the next album.
To find out more, go to Feist biography.
He made many tunes famous such as ‘My Way’, ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’, ‘Angel Eyes’, ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ and ‘New York, New York’.
Frank’s legacy might best be summed up by Stephen Holden who wrote for the 1983 Rolling Stone Record Guide: “Frank Sinatra’s voice is pop music history. Like Presley and Dylan – Sinatra will last indefinitely. He virtually invented modern pop song phrasing.”
To find out more, go to Frank Sinatra biography.
It became the UK Christmas number one single in ’03.
Following the worldwide success, Gary Jules kept selling his own CDs on CD Baby as well as the song being released through the label.
To find out more, go to Gary Jules biography.
With fifteen million copies sold, they were not only everybody’s favourite punk trio, they had also started a new American punk trend. Bands like Rancid and Offspring became part of a new musical movement.
After a few more albums and years of touring, Green Day released ‘American Idiot’ in ’04. This album has firmly put Green Day on the map of super famous bands.
To find out more, go to Green Day biography.
Arlen’s 1938 song ‘Over The Rainbow’ was voted the twentieth century’s #1 song by the Recording Industry Association of America.
Other Harold Arlen super hits include ‘It’s Only A Paper Moon’, ‘Stormy Weather’, ‘Get Happy’ and ‘Come Rain Or Come Shine’.
No other composer has had more songs represented in the ‘Great American Songbook’ than Harold Arlen.
To find out more, go to Harold Arlen biography.
The debut had the single ‘The Remedy (I Won’t Worry)’ on it which peaked at #15 on the Billboard chart.
Jason Mraz’s next album, ‘Mr A-Z’ was released in 2005 and Mraz promoted it by touring as a support act to Alanis Morrisette, Tracy Chapman and James Blunt the world over.
Produced by Steve Lillywhite, ‘Mr A-Z’ peaked at #5 in the Billboard chart. It contained crowd favourites such as ‘Geek In Pink’, ‘Life Is Wonderful’ and ‘Wordplay’.
To find out more, go to Jason Mraz biography.
Judy Garland shot to worldwide fame when she sang ‘Over The Rainbow’ in the 1939 Blockbuster ‘The Wizard of Oz’ at only sixteen years old. Amazingly, she had made an astonishing twelve films prior to ‘The Wizard Of Oz’.
All in all Judy Garland made forty-one films throughout her career, starting in 1929 with ‘The Big Revue’ and ending in 1967, being fired from the production of ‘Valley Of The Dolls’.
In 1999, the American Film Institute placed her at #8 of greatest female stars in the history of American cinema.
To find out more, go to Judy Garland biography.
Often compared to Billie Holiday for her vocal similarities, Peyroux’s second solo album only had one original tune on it, ‘Don’t Wait Too Long’.
Released in 2004, the album ‘Careless Love’ sounds as if it was written eighty years ago.
To find out more, go to Madeleine Peyroux biography.
During this short period of time, The Mamas And The Papas became world famous by getting eleven top 40 singles from five albums. In total, they sold over forty million copies worldwide.
Their most famous hits include ‘Monday, Monday’, ‘California Dreamin’’, ‘My Girl’ and ‘Dream A Little Dream Of Me’.
To find out more, go to Mama Cass biography.
Being exposed to music from an early age with his parents both being professional musicians (mum played the violin, dad was a singer), Matt Dennis took to the piano, singing and arranging like a fish to water!
Performing with his family from an early age in the Vaudeville tradition, Matt got to know American showbiz before he even learned to read or write.
Among Matt Dennis’ most famous songs you can find ‘Everything Happens To Me’, ‘Will You Still Be Mine’ and ‘Angel Eyes’.
To find out more, go to Matt Dennis biography.
As the daughter of The Beatles’ musical mentor Ravi Shankar, Norah’s destiny might seem written in the stars when, at the age of twenty-three, she released her incredibly successful album ‘Come Away With Me’ on the legendary label Blue Note.
Norah’s debut was produced by Arif Mardin who, with his vast experience, managed to capture the rich voice and intimate sound of Norah’s music.
In 2005, the album received diamond status as it reached ten million sales.
To find out more, go to Norah Jones biography.
Their biggest tunes include ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ and ‘Wonderwall’.
With eight #1 singles, fifteen NME awards, nine Q awards, four MTV Europe awards and five Brit awards, The Guinness Book Of Hit Singles And Albums declared Oasis the Most Successful Act of the Last Decade in the UK.
To find out more, go to Oasis biography.
Ocean Colour Scene
The band stemmed from the same 90s British indie/rock/pop era as Blur, Oasis, Radiohead and The Verve.
Ocean Colour Scene had the most success with their 1996 album ‘Moseley Shoals’. The album contained the band’s three biggest hits in ”The Riverboat Song’, ‘The Day We Caught The Train’ and ‘You’ve Got It Bad’.
To find out more, go to Ocean Colour Scene biography.
His father’s side of the family hail from Italy but he has spent most of his time in Scotland where he met Paolo’s mum in Glasgow.
Born in 1987, Paolo Nutini’s career started when an artist was late to perform in his school, Paolo was asked by the music teacher to go up and sing a song.
The reaction from the crowd and Paolo’s naturally stunning voice caught the attention of his, soon to be manager who happened to be in the crowd!
To find out more, go to Paolo Nutini biography.
In 2006, Time magazine called him one of the one hundred people who shape our world.
Paul Simon’s hits are many including ‘Homeward Bound’, ‘Scarborough Fair‘, ‘You Can Call Me Al’, ‘The Boxer’, ‘Cecilia’, ‘Mrs Robinson’ and ‘Graceland’.
To find out more, go to Paul Simon biography.
Her most famous performances include ‘Black Coffee’, ‘Big Spender’, ‘Why Don’t You Do Right?’ and ‘Fever’.
On the silver screen, Peggy Lee acted in many musicals including the voice for ‘Darling’, the Cocker Spaniel in ‘Lady And The Tramp’.
To find out more, go to Peggy Lee biography.
With their laid back blues-influenced psychedelic rock, they have had hits like ‘Another Brick In The Wall’, ‘Comfortably Numb’, ‘Money’ and ‘Wish You Were Here’.
Having gone through several member changes, Pink Floyd have always remained epic sounding.
To find out more, go to Pink Floyd biography.
Plain White T’s
Using a very persistent marketing technique, ‘Hey There Delilah’ was pushed for over two years before it was finally #1.
In the end, ‘Hey There Delilah’ ended up carrying the promotion of two albums on its shoulders.
To find out more, go to Plain White T’s biography.
Williams’ career started as a member of the pop band Take That in 1990.
When Robbie left Take That in 1995 to pursue a solo career, he had sold twenty-five five million records with the group.
As a solo artist, he first released hits like ‘Angels’ and ‘Let Me Entertain You’, only to move on to big band singing on his hugely popular ‘Swing When You’re Winning’ album.
To find out more, go to Robbie Williams biography.
His career was short as he died at the age of thirty-three. He was shot at the Hacienda Hotel. The hotel manager, Bertha Franklin, told the police that she shot him in self-defence.
Between 1957 and 1963, Sam Cooke managed twenty-nine top 40 hits including ‘You Send Me’, ‘Chain Gang’, ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’, ‘Wonderful World’ and ‘Bring It On Home To Me’.
To find out more, go to Sam Cooke biography.
Simon & Garfunkel
Paul Simon‘s songwriting mastery can be compared to the likes of Bob Dylan and Lennon/McCartney.
Their hits include ‘Homeward Bound’, ‘Scarborough Fair’, ‘The Boxer’, ‘Mrs Robinson’, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ and ‘American Tune’.
To find out more, go to Simon & Garfunkel biography.
Sixpence None The Richer
The band have had both breakups and reunions since the 98′s success of ‘Kiss Me’.
To find out more, go to Sixpence None The Richer biography.
In a climate when most British bands were indie, Skunk was rock.
Spy Tunes met up with Ace (guitarist and founder of Skunk Anansie) who gladly demonstrated how to play some of his classic tunes using the electric guitar.
To find out more, go to Skunk Anansie biography.
Born in Philadelphia, she has been performing since the late 60′s. Wilson has shared the stage alongside many soul and jazz legends, including Marvin Gaye, Sammy Davis Jr., Jimmy McGriff and Jimmy Smith.
Spanky Wilson is a great example of how a singer can change a song’s arrangement and make it her own.
To find out more, go to Spanky Wilson biography.
Stevie’s natural groove and ability to so purely express music are untouched. His vocal phrasing is second to none.
Stevie Wonder’s super hits include ‘Sir Duke’, ‘I Wish’, ‘Master Blaster’, ‘Lately’, ‘Superstition’ and ‘I Just Called To Say I Love You’.
To find out more, go to Stevie Wonder biography.
Formed by drummer Stewart Copeland in 1977, The Police reached worldwide success after releasing their first single ‘Roxanne’ only a year after they formed the band.
By fusing punk, reggae and jazz, The Police were one of the first acts in the UK to pioneer a style that was to become known as ‘New Wave’.
To find out more, go to Sting biography.
Tears For Fears
With hits like ‘Mad World’, ‘Seeds Of Love’ and ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’, Tears For Fears were one of the biggest bands around in the 80s.
To find out more, go to Tears For Fears biography.
Estimated by EMI, The Beatles have over one billion discs and tapes worldwide.
The Beatles were the leaders of the so-called British Invasion, with their catchy ‘rock n roll’ infused pop they took America by storm, creating hysteria everywhere they went.
To find out more, go to The Beatles biography.
Since their debut, The Fratellis have continued to gather new fans around the UK with their blues influenced pop songs, touring and visiting the many festivals that the nation offers.
Along with bands like The Zutons, The Fratellis can be seen as leading the way for a new era in British music. More raw and less Stadium!
To find out more, go to The Fratellis biography.
Categorised as a British invasion band, along with the other members of the so-called Big Four (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who), The Kinks changed popular music forever.
Among their hits you can find ‘Lola’, ‘Sunny Afternoon’ and ‘You Really Got Me’ which, fourteen years later, would be covered by Van Halen, using a much louder amp.
To find out more, go to The Kinks biography.
The Rolling Stones
Incredibly, the band has stuck together ever since and they still tour and record together.
Although they were around at the same time as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Cream and The Kinks;The Rolling Stones have outlived of these other bands, living up to the English rock and roll lifestyle.
To find out more, go to The Rolling Stones biography.
Since their first debut album, ‘A Storm In Heaven’, critics have always favoured The Verve as one of the main 90s British rock acts.
After the huge success with ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ and ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’, the band broke up in 1999. Ashcroft pursued a solo career until the 2007 reunion, which had its first tour sell out in twenty minutes.
To find out more, go to The Verve biography.
Tracy Chapman is an American singer – songwriter. She is best known for her singles ‘Fast Car’, ‘Talking About A Revolution’ and ‘Baby Can I Hold You’ from her self-entitled titled debut album ‘Tracy Chapman’.
Coming from the coffee shop scene in Massachusetts, Tracy not only sold multi-platinum and won three Grammy awards for her debut. She also changed music history and paved the way for other acts with more indie sounds and political lyrics.
Following Tracy Chapman, popular acts were now more honest.
To find out more, go to Tracy Chapman biography.