In an era when it feels like we’ve scraped the very bottom of nostalgia’s barrel, it seems harder to define what a ‘cult hero’ actually is. Once the Velvet Underground were considered the dictionary definition of just that: intrinsically rebellious, misunderstood during their lifetime (along with being criminally ignored) but later massively influential. In one of Brian Eno’s oft-quoted statements, he said: “the first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band.” But however true this was when he said it, years of rock revisionism, a place in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and being used in a car advert meant that they eventually became part of rock’s canon. No longer ‘cult’ or ‘unsung’.
However, leafing through the new issue, it’s clear that there are hundreds of musicians who’ve helped shaped the sound of 2011. They range from electronic pioneer Delia Derbyshire to Fela Kuti through to Rosemary Clooney, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
My personal cult heroes are Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman. They’ve been DJs, session musicians, 80s frightwigged pop stars and makers of film and TV scores. But you’ll probably know them best for being in The Revolution, Prince’s band during his mid-80s golden age.
They’ve been credited with introducing Prince to the likes of Joni Mitchell, free jazz, 60s psychedelic pop and helped fashion that decade’s biggest popstar into someone who didn’t have boundaries and whose funk was downright weird.
Well those are my cult hero(ines), who are yours?
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