5 Glen Matlock – The Sex Pistols
One of the original Sex Pistols, Matlock left the band in 1977, and was replaced by the infamous Sid Vicious. Sid Vicious, for all intents and purposes, was just a pretty face. He hung around the band for ages, and was eventually recruited. Rumor has it that he played with an unplugged bass guitar, while someone else produced the actual music from backstage. Glen Matlock, however, was actually a talented musician, and his contribution to “Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols” (while debated by some) is irrevocably important. The Sex Pistols, for their very short life, were one of the most influential punk bands of the 70’s. Matlock was a key part of the formation, but his image has been overshadowed by the infamy of Sid Vicious. Any true punk fan knows the real story, and knows who Matlock is – but unfortunately, with the commoditization of music, and proliferation of “Sid & Nancy” tees, the average casual fan does not.
4 John Paul Jones – Led Zeppelin
Not exactly an un-famous musician, John Paul Jones ranks as one of the most influential rock n’ roll artists to date. Regardless, in the context of Led Zeppelin, John Paul Jones is not the name that comes to mind. Robert Plant and Jimmy Page are the key artists that one thinks of when Led Zeppelin is being discussed, but Jones’ music is undeniably fabulous. Take a listen to Them Crooked Vultures, his project with Dave Grohlof the Foo Fighters and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age; in that trio he plays bass, keyboards, and various other instruments all to a spectacular end. There is no doubt that John Paul Jones is one of the most talented musicians of the 20th and 21st centuries – if only Led Zeppelin fans would give him as much fanfare as the rest of Zepreceives.
3 Noel Redding – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Noel Redding was part of one of the most famous musical experiences known to human kind – the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Again, when the band is named after the frontman, it’s not as surprising when the other members’ names are easier to forget. This is quite unfortunate because without Noel Redding (and Mitch Mitchell) were innate to The Experience’s success. Noel’s bass playing was not only a key part of the music, but key to the technicality of their sound. His bass licks were literally time-keepers for the songs, providing the spine, so to speak, for the rest of the body of sound. Without him, The Experience literally would not have existed as brilliantly as it did. Yet no one gives him credit. Part of the reason for this is that he was forced to sign away his rights to the music in 1974. Noel Redding was as important to The Experience as Hendrix was, and should be celebrated with as much revelry.
2 Ronnie Wood – The Jeff Beck Group
It’s pretty easy to see why people often forget Ronnie Wood when they’re discussing The Jeff Beck Group – I mean, the band is named after their front man, so who really remembers the names of the other guys? Except for, you know, Rod Stewart – people tend to remember him. Ronnie Wood, however, is probably one of the most amazing musicians. Having played in several unbeatable acts (Faces, The Rolling Stones, to name a few), his talent is obviously well proven, time and time again. However, that doesn’t’ change the fact that he is often outshined by the very people he plays for. His talent as a versatile musician in The Jeff Beck group is unparalleled. Not only that, he is a talented visual artist, as well as an author. Ronnie Wood is a true renaissance man, but often overlooked because the acts he’s most famous for have people far more famous than him. It’s a shame, for he deserves credit as an inherent part of those bands’ respective success.
1 KristNovoselic – Nirvana
Nirvana’s genius is often attributed to Cobain’s tortured artist soul. Of course, Cobain was a genius. But he wouldn’t have been as much of a genius without the unbeatable talent of Dave Grohl and KristNovoselic at his side. Grohl gets plenty of credit for his formidable work as front man of the Foo Fighters. Novoselic, however, is often left out of the realm of discussion. Perhaps he prefers it this way, but the unfortunate side effect of that is that he can be ignored when the ‘average Joe’ talks about what makes Nirvana great. Novoselic’s talent on the bass is intrinsic to the beauty of songs like In Bloom. Without him, Nirvana’s unbeatable use of the “power-trio” format would have been non-existent.
These five musicians were all key to the success of their respective bands, yet with hindsight none of them are granted the credit that is due. Not on a mass scale, at least. If for every Cobain tee there was a Novoselic tee, or for every Sid Vicious safety-pinned-patch there was one for Glen Matlock, the scales would finally be even, and all would be right with the musical world.