We believe that we are known by what we do, and a lot of what we do is inspired by the experiences we have, the art we look at and the music we listen to. This list of artworks are a tribute to those whose music has transformed our work, evolved us as people and brought out the best in us. #WhatMakesUsGoWhoaMama
As one of the most influential bass players in modern music history, James Lee Jamerson (January 29, 1936 – August 2, 1983) performed on most of the Motown Records hits in the 1960s.
Motown may not have credited session musicians on their releases till 1971, but Jamerson’s best known for his work on some of our favourite hits like “You Can’t Hurry Love” by The Supremes, “Bernadette” by the Four Tops, “My Girl” by The Temptations, “I Was Made To Love Her” by Stevie Wonder and most of Marvin Gaye’s album “What’s Going On”.
He has influenced musicians all over the world, including Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson, Bootsy Collins and our very own Neil Smith.
Jeffrey Thomas Porcaro (April 1, 1954 – August 5, 1992) was a well-renowned American drummer and co-founder of the rock band, Toto.
Best known for the drum pattern he used on the Grammy winning song “Rosanna”, Porcaro was inspired by legendary drummer Bernard Purdie and John Bonham.. Besides working with Toto, Porcaro was also a popular session musician having collaborated with Steely Dan, Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand, Donna Summer, Diana Ross, Miles Davis, Bruce Springsteen and even Elton John.
Porcaro’s contribution to music might not be known by everyone, but his drum work and legendary grooves have stayed with us for years to come. It’s even inspired a whole new wave of drummers including Jude Dee and Neil Smith at Whoa Mama.
As an American composer, producer, music director and professor of music, George Duke (January 12, 1946 – August 5, 2013) is known for his 1980 album “A Brazilian Love Affair” as well as collaborations with other popular musicians including Frank Zappa.
Starting with playing with friends in garages to local clubs, Duke slowly built up session work which refined his abilities and perfected his music. On his 1977 album, “From Me to You”, Duke fused jass with pop, funk and soul music based on all his experience and around this time, he spent a few years with Frank Zappa as a member of The Mothers of Invention.
Duke also produced pop and R&B hits for A Taste of Honey, Jeffrey Osborne, Anita Baker, Gladys Knight, Barry Manilow, The Pointer Sisters and Smokey Robinson to name a few of our favourites.
Best known as the man who inspired the Gibson Les Paul guitars, Lester William Polsfuss (June 9, 1915 – August 12, 2009) was an American guitarist, songwriter and inventor. Going by Les Paul, he taught himself to play the guitar and is one of the pioneers of the solid-body electric guitar that is now synonymous with his name. Paul is also the only person to be included in both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
He was dissatisfied with the available acoustic-electric guitars, so Paul experimented with designs of his own and created several version of what he called “The Log”. Over the years he improved and modified the instruments and even after Gibson launched his model, he continued to use his own version for his recordings.
Les Paul also performed with artists like Bing Crosby, The Andrews Sisters and Nat King Cole. And musicians everywhere are indebted to Les Paul for the guitar he created and the music he brought into their lives.
Popularly known as “The King”, Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977) was one of the most significant culture icons of the 20th century. He was a singer and actor and a pioneer of rockabilly – which is an uptempo fusion of country music and rhythm and blues.
Soon after the release of “Heartbreak Hotel” in 1956, the single became a number one hit in America and following this, Presley made numerous television appearances and became a leading figure in rock & roll. And his energized dance moves and sexually provocative performance style made him incredibly popular and even controversial to an extent. Some of our favourites include “Love Me Tender”, “All Shook Up”, “Hound Dog” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love”, Elvis Presley has become a huge part of our lives.
Folk legends say that he made a deal with the devil at a crossroads, but Robert Leroy Johnson (May 8, 1911 – August 16, 1938) was better known as one of the pioneers of the Delta blues style of music. His most famous recordings between 1936-37 featured a combination of music that influenced generations of musicians.
Because Johnson performed mostly on street corners, juke joints and Saturday night dances, he didn’t receive a lot of commercial success during his lifetime. His most iconic songs “Cross Road Blues” and “Hellhound on My Trail” were among the four tracks the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame included in their list, “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll”.
Musicians like Eric Clapton, Robert Plant, Bob Dylan, Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix and Fleetwood Mac consider Johnson to be a great influence on their music.