As featured in the 28 May issue of NME magazine, musicians pick their unsung idols....

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He found himself aligned with Eminem in the late ’90s after rumours spread that the talented-yet-generic-sounding Detroiter had switched to emulating the semi-biographical narrative flows that defined his NYC contemporary. But if it was Em’s cartoony fun and technique that powered his meteoric rise, Cage’s reptilian rasp, gruesome imagination and extreme ‘realness’ proved at least some trump.

64Billy Childish

I can’t think of a single person alive today who writes with such honesty. Sexual encounters with dogs, being abused as a child, kicked out of art college and feeling the wrath of Jack White are all events that have carved him into Britain’s greatest cultural icon. If you need any further convincing, look no further than Kurt Cobain’s record collection, which was littered with Billy’s music.


They have this very strict ethos about music – it has to be pure and absent of money-making schemes, they won’t charge more than a small amount for tickets to their shows, they don’t sell T-shirts… I mean, they have respect for bands who do go out and become successful and sell millions of records and make lots of money, it’s just that it’s not their kinda thing.

62Roland Kirk

‘The Inflatable Tear’ is about how he got an eye disease when he was two, and one day the nurse who was treating him put the wrong medicine in his eye and he went blind. He can remember the last minute he could see and the first minute he couldn’t. The music is very primitive and instinctive. Like, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make sense because your head doesn’t, does it?

61Stiv Bators

Oh man, Stiv Bators is probably the biggest influence on Cerebral Ballzy. His Dead Boys stage antics totally ripped off Iggy, but who givesa fuck? Cutting himself and getting blowjobs onstage and the sheer, earnest straightforward rebellion. Watch the vid of ‘Ain’t It Fun’ and you’ll see what I mean. He’s just such a stylishly badass songwriter, and his style? Second only to Richard Hell.

60Talk Talk

They were marketed as a Duran Duran copy band, and when they realised what was going on they withdrew into themselves. You can hear on certain tunes the sound of someone desperately looking for something. I don’t know what it was, but you’ve got to go somewhere to come back with that music. They gave me something to aim at… which I’ll probably never achieve.

59Tuli Kupferberg

Tuli Kupferberg is a favourite ‘cult’ musician of mine, though as he liked to say, he wasn’t actually musically skilled enough to play “anything but the radio”. Even through The Fugs’ later incarnations up until Tuli’s death in 2010, he continued to plough his own wonderfully unique lyrical furrow of politics, humanism, satire and outrage, sung in a voice that was more ghetto griot than pop idol.


Gesualdo was an Italian composer who, because of mental illness, murdered his wife and her lover, and wrote music in the 16th century that was so progressive and extreme that no-one attempted to recreate his style until the 20th century. He wasn't revered in his lifetime, and after his death he was forgotten. It wasn’t until centuries later that he was rediscovered, and his work is a huge inspiration to me.


Television’s first record still sounds as fresh today and as all-round awesome as it did in 1977. They played Copenhagen and I saw them in this tiny venue. I got the sense that here was a real band who were really connecting with each other. Some of the songs on that first album, like ‘Friction’, are just so intricate. ‘Marquee Moon’ is one of my secret tracks for Metallica to play. I’m gonna try and sneak it in without anyone noticing!


I’d have to choose something no-one knows about, which is STP – Julie Cafritz’s band after Pussy Galore. It was four girls from New York and it was just this great band. They were the progenitors to that whole riot grrrl sound.

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