I get asked that question a lot. Sometimes it’s asked by a wide eyed student hopeful that I’ll mention someone they’re familiar with and sometimes it comes posing more as a challenge question from a new acquaintance testing the waters to see if I really am a player. Whatever the motivation is for asking the question, I am never quite comfortable providing an answer and often, it renders me speachless.
I remember becoming aware of music when I was just three years old. Sunday afternoons were usually spent listening to the music of Glen Miller or Stan Kenton. Herb Alpert and the Tijauana Brass were particular family favorites because it ment shaking maracas, dancing around the living room to Spanish Flea and staring in amazement at the lady on the album cover wearing the whip cream dress. (Whipped Cream and Other Delights,1965). When I was in preschool, I remember my mom and I eating peanutbutter and jelly sandwiches at the kitchen table as ‘Spinning Wheel’ (Blood Sweat and Tears) played over the radio that was perched up on our kitchen counter.
Like most kids, my musical world really expanded in junior high and high school. I remember selling a bunch of junk for a choir fundraser and getting Chicago and Styx albums in return. My choir buddies also earned albums from artists like The Carpenters, Gordan Lightfoot, and the Beatles. And the older sibling influence is one that definitely can’t be overlooked. I’ll never forget my girlfriend and I ‘sneaking’ into her older sister’s pile of records, spinning the likes of The Bee Gees and singing, “Just my dog and I at the edge of the universe” at the top of our lungs. (Main Course, 1975). And when my parents were out, you could always count on Frank Zappa penetrating through the walls of my oldest brother’s room at deafening volumes.
The list could go on and on from guitar hero’s like Chet Atkins, Joe Pass and Barney Kessel to vocalists like Ella Fitzgerald, The Manhatten Transfer or Michael Buble. There are coutless artists, bands, time periods and genras that I love listening to and have made their mark thoughout my nearly half century life and, the guys I play with (including the wonder man I’m married to), are some of my favorites as well!
Yes, the ‘who is your favorite musician?’ is a difficult question at best but deep down it really warms my heart when I recall with fondess the many great musicians who have touched my life.