The Bands And Performers That Inspired These Amazing Musicians

When we listen to our favorite bands, it’s easy to forget that they are a product of their own favorite bands and inspirations. People pick and choose what they like from others, throw in a little bit of their own originality, and soon enough they are someone else’s favorite artist. So next time you’re listening to your favorite band, do some research to see who their favorite bands and inspirations are. It will give you deeper insight into their music and lead you to new discoveries. We’ll help you get started. Here’s a list of some amazing musicians and their favorite bands that inspired them.

You’ll never guess who Kanye West loves!

Jim Morrison – Elvis Presley


Jim Morrison was the talented powerhouse behind the psychedelic rock and roll band The Doors. His wild nature and on-stage antics made him one of the most iconic and influential frontmen of all time. Although he has been an influence to other musicians since he first stepped on stage, he too had his own favorites and inspirations and one of the biggest was Elvis Presley.

This comes to no surprise considering Elvis’ own notorious performances and actions that had many households banning his music. On Presley, Morrison noted that “[He] was a strong influence and they just seemed to open up a whole new world to me. They were very exciting and presented a strong intense landscape that I had only vaguely glimpsed before.”

Kurt Cobain – The Stooges

cobain and the stooges.jpg

Photo Credits: Flavorwire

Kurt Cobain was the lead singer of Nirvana and helped establish the Seattle music scene that we know as grunge. However, out of all of the eclectic music that Cobain relentlessly listened to (from pop, hip-hop, the blues and low-fi experimental artists such as Daniel Johnston, Sonic Youth, and The Pixies), he favored the Ann Arbor-based band The Stooges the most.

Known for their raw and fierce style for playing rock and roll with lead singer Iggy Pop at the helm, Kurt Cobain had their 1973 album Raw Power as his favorite album of all-time on every one of his favorite album lists.

Lady Gaga – Iron Maiden

lady gaga and iron maiden.jpg

Photo Credits: Flavorwire

Now this one should come off as a bit shocking. One wouldn’t normally think that pop icon Lady Gaga would be so in love with the ’80s heavy metal band Iron Maiden. Yet, here we are. Supposedly Gaga says that she is a “massive metalhead” which might make some sense if you take into account some of the outfits she’s been wearing throughout the years. However, this could possibly be all talk and another instance in which people claim to love bands such as Pink Floyd or Metallica even though they’ve only heard them on the radio. But honestly, we hope it’s true.

Paul McCartney – Bob Dylan


The legendary Paul McCartney of The Beatles seems to have an appreciation for rather contemporary music. Some of his favorite bands at the moment include The Zutons, The Killers, The Wombats, Echo & The Bunnymen, and especially Radiohead. He notes that “You’ve still got to have the music, that’s the bottom line” when discussing how music has changed along with the music distribution process. However, out of all the contemporary music that he loves and admires, Bob Dylan remains one of his favorites and the main source of his inspiration. McCartney states that “He’s a great poet – a cool guy. He’s him, he’s Dylan”.

Ben Gibbard- Teenage Fanclub


Photo Credits: Flavorwire

Ben Gibbard is best-known for being the lead singer of the indie rock group Death Cab For Cutie and for numerous projects and collaborations with other indie artists. So, out of all the bands and musicians that could have been the most influential on him and earned the spot of his favorite is the British alternative rock band Teenage Fanclub. Although this may not come as a surprise considering that there are many styles and overtones in Teenage Fanclub’s music that are very much apparent in Gibbons own sound, it’s certainly not a bad choice.

Kanye West- Red Hot Chili Peppers


Photo Credits: Flavorwire

For all of the die-hard Kanye West fans out there, we’re sure that the discussion of his favorite bands and influences could be an endless and futile argument in an attempt to get to the bottom of what people call his genius. Yet, as it turns out, The Red Hot Chili Peppers are his favorite band mostly due to his favoritism towards largely melodic based music. However, in true Kanye West fashion, he had to find something wrong with them and told BBC that, “Anthony Kiedis wasn’t the best singer in the world.” But of course, there’s nothing ever wrong with Kanye’s music. Ever.

Keep going to see which composer the Beach Boys rocked the socks off of!

Stephen Malkmus – Lou Reed


Stephen Malkmus was the frontman and guitarist for the 1990’s indie rock band Pavement. Pavement has been considered to be one of the most influential indie rock bands of the ’90s and acquired a large cult following during their career. So, it’s not shocking to learn that one of Malkmus’ idols and favorite musicians is Lou Reed, the principal songwriter for The Velvet Underground. Malkmus went on to add about Reed that “A good voice isn’t so important. It’s more important to sound unique…If a voice is just too nice without an edge, it kind of all flows by.” It is clear that Malkmus applied this theory to his own music which is based on emotion, energy, and angst.

Kevin Parker – Air


Kevin Parker is the mastermind behind the Australian psychedelic indie rock project Tame Impala. Coming out of the woodwork in 2008 with their self-titled EP, and then establishing themselves in the music industry with their first LP Sundown Syndrome, they’ve become one of the most beloved bands in the indie rock scene. So the question is, what were some of Parker’s key influences that helped him develop the bands sound into what it is today? In an interview with The Guardian, he recalls that the band Air and more specifically the album Talkie Walkie is what helped to influence an guide the sound of Tame Impala. He notes that “It opened my eyes to new studio possibilities because it was just two guys but they were making a world of sounds,” which is exactly what Tame Impala is about.

David Bowie – Arcade Fire & TV On The Radio


Although not surprising, before he passed away, music icon David Bowie had hundreds of favorite bands and influences throughout his personal life as well as musical career. However, during the last ten years of his life, he said that two of his favorite bands were Arcade Fire and TV On the Radio. Both of them are indie rock groups that have a huge cult following full of crazed-fanatics. Yet, he couldn’t pick between the two which is understandable since they are both such great bands during this period of music history.

John Darnielle – The Stockholm Monsters

Darnielle and The monsters.jpg

Photo Credits: Flavorwire

John Darnielle of the indie folk band The Mountain Goats has a surprising favorite artist considering the style and genre of the music we know and love him for. Although he has gone to proclaim his love for musicians such as Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, and Black Sabbath, as it turns out, The Stockholm Monsters hold a special place in his heart. The Stockholm Monsters are a rather unknown British post-punk band from the 1980s in which Darnielle claims their album Alma Mater as probably being his favorite album of all time. Apparently, his favorite band was Heart until he went to high school, showing a definite transition in musical taste.

Arcade Fire – David Bowie


If you have ever listened to Arcade Fire or seen one of their live performances, it is very very clear that David Bowie is their main source of inspiration and holds has a special place in every band member’s heart. After his death, Arcade Fire gave a statement saying, “David Bowie was one of the bands earliest supporters and champions. He not only created the world that made it possible for our band to exist, he welcomed us into it with grace and support. Bowie even helped collaborate with the band on their 2013 record Reflektor which they noted as being “one of the most profound and memorable moments of all their lives.”

Michael Tilson Thomas – The Beach Boys


Michael Tilson Thomas is the music director of the San Francisco Symphony, so he’s kind of a big deal, and knows a lot about music. Yet, out of all the music that he has heard, and everything he knows about how it works, he gives endless praise to The Beach Boys, and in particular Brian Wilson. He In an interview with WQXR he recalls the first time that he heard “Good Vibrations” and noted that “It was the first time that I’d heard the song. And I was just BLOWN away by the joy of it, the longing of it, the big perspective of it – AND the astonishing brevity of it.”

Julian Casablancas – Sam Cooke


Photo Credits: Flavorwire

Julian Casablancas of hit indie rock band The Strokes is known for his excellent taste in music from the indie scene that he remains as a major player in. He’s well known for taking a deep liking to contemporary music such as Beach House, Beirut, The Dirty Projectors, Telepathe, and many other bands that his fans love as well. However, although he’s a personal fan of contemporary music, he notes that one of his truly favorite artists and his favorite song is “A Change is Gonna Come” by the King of Soul himself Sam Cooke. Not a surprising answer considering the influence Cooke had on music as a whole.

Jay-Z – Marvin Gaye


Jay-Z (Shawn Carter) is rapper turned businessman. He is one of the best-selling musicians of all time selling over 100 million records, received 21 Grammy Awards with three of his albums have even made it into Rolling Stones Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. With so much success, it’s a wonder just who some of his favorites and influences may be. Although he has a myriad of favorite musicians and especially rappers that he admires, he recalls his earliest exposure of R&B icons were Donny Hathaway and especially Marvin Gaye from his parent’s record collection which he considers being particularly special to him. He’s even known to use samples from these artists in many of his songs.

Frank Zappa – Igor Stravinsky

Zappa and Stravinsky.jpg

Photo Credits: Flavorwire

Frank Zappa was an American musician, composer, activist, and filmmaker. He is well-known for his non-conformist music and his music spanned from the 1960s into the 1990’s. He was known for conducting rock, pop, jazz, and even orchestral music and produced over 60 albums in his music career. In an interview, he gave many suggestions of who aspiring musicians should listen to which included Wes Montgomery, Cecil Taylor, and more. However, he emphasized that everyone should buy anything of the 20th Century Russian composer, pianist and conductor Igor Stravinsky they could get their hands on and “dance to it.”

Thurston Moore – Trash Kit


Thurston Moore was once the co-frontman of the famous post-punk alternative rock band Sonic Youth. In 2017, he discussed some of his favorite underground bands that he’s been listening to and recommends his fans to listen to as well. On the list are the bands Nøught, Rome Is Not A Town, Tomaga, Guttersnipe, and more. But at the top of this list is a band called Trash Kit. Trash Kit is an all-female trio from London that is described as making Afro-beat infused punk rock. Moore notes that The music has an African Highlife vibe to it with a minimalist, sophisticated rhythms and political, emotional lyrics.

Avey Tare – Can


Avey Tare (David Portner) is a primary founder of the experimental psychedelic pop group Animal Collective. Being a bit of an acquired taste, AnCo, as called by their fans, has been regarded as one of the most groundbreaking and experimental bands of the 21st century. Being so “out there,” it’s hard to imagine where Avey draws his influences from or what he would consider being his favorite music. But low and behold, he does have a few groups that he holds close to his heart. One band in particular called Can is a German experimental rock group started back in 1968. If you listen to Can and then Animal Collective, it’s clear that Avey Tare admires their work and draws from it.

Chance The Rapper – Kirk Franklin


Chance The Rapper (Chancellor Bennett) is a rapper, songwriter, and philanthropist hailing from the West Chatham neighborhood of Chicago Illinois. He gained recognition after the release of his second mixtape Acid Rap and his popularity and continued to grow since then winning Grammy’s, and using his fame to raise awareness on various social issues. Although his music started off more rap and hip-hop baed, in the recent years, he has been incorporating a lot of gospel and soul into his music giving him a unique sound and separating himself from the rest. He attributes this sound to his love and appreciation for gospel music to Kirk Franklin who is one of his favorite artists and composers.

Beyonce – Michael Jackson


Although singer, songwriter, dancer, and actress Beyonce has truly revolutionized her genre of music and the way women are presented in the music industry, she has some favorites of her own. Among them include bands such as N’ Sync and rappers like Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, and of course JayZ. However, one of her all-time favorites and the major source of inspiration is Michael Jackson. She stated that when she was five years old she attended a Michael Jackson concert, and during that performance, she claims to have found her purpose. She noted, “If it wasn’t for Michael Jackson I never would have performed.”

Conor Oberst – Elliot Smith


Conor Oberst is a singer and songwriter known best for his work in the band Bright Eyes as well as numerous other bands including Monsters of Folk, Desaparecidos and more. He has also had a successful solo project and won Best Songwriter by Rolling Stone in 2008. To some, he’s even been considered a new Bob Dylan. Throughout his life, he has had many influences beginning with The Smiths and The Cure. He was also the folk revival scene with Niel Young, Leonard Cohen and later Daniel Johnston. However, he notes that his most profound influence was another singer, songwriter Elliot Smith. Chances are if you listen to one, you listen to the other.