Leonard Cohen was not just an incredible musician but also a poet. The Canadian artist rose to fame with songs like “Suzanne”, “I’m Your Man” and “Hallelujah,” which was covered by several other artists. Cohen sought to come across as authentic rather than achieving musical precision; many compared him to Bob Dylan in that regard. Leonard Cohen died, aged 82, on November 7, 2016.
Johnny Cash: Country for the masses
Country wouldn’t be same if it hadn’t been touched by Johnny Cash, whose placid voice strangely underscored his passionate lyrics, creating a unique and unparalleled contrast. “I Walk the Line,” “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Ring of Fire” are among his greatest hits. Shortly before his death in 2003, he managed to attract a new generation of fans with his surreal cover versions of several pop songs.
Nick Cave: the ‘Prince of Darkness’
Nick Cave’s music takes on a much darker timbre than his idols Leonard Cohen and Johnny Cash ever did. The Australian musician started his musical career in gothic rock, adopting the moniker “the Prince of Darkness.” But the 59-year-old’s signature sound mellowed over the years, as he embarked on a number of collaborations with other musicians, including one with fellow Aussie Kylie Minogue.
Tom Waits: American rebel
Tom Waits’ voice was once described by critic Daniel Durchholz as sounding like “it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car.” Waits took it as compliment and continued to blend folk and blues in his own style, throughout his career now spanning over 40 years.
Barry White: soul daddy
Some consider Barry White’s classics a joke, but the truth of the matter is that the world’s population would probably be lower if it wasn’t for his dulcet tones, which have doubled as the soundtrack to a great deal of romance. “You’re the First, the Last, My Everything,” “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe,” and “Never, Never Gonna Give You Up” are among his unforgettable hits.
Lee Hazlewood: Nancy Sinatra’s starmaker
Although his first love in music was country, Lee Hazlewood went on to write, produce and even record a number of songs for Nancy Sinatra and other pop artists. To this day, recordings of his warm baritone voice remain rather atypical in the context of popular music. Hazlewood died in 2007.
Brad Roberts: Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm
Taking folk into mainstream at a time when people had all but forgotten it, Brad Roberts’ band, the Crash Test Dummies, contributed to the sound of the 1990s. However, since the Canadian musician witnessed what being a crash test dummy is like for himself in 2000, when he had a serious car accident, he’s gone somewhat quiet. Still, Roberts continues to write music and is planning a comeback.
Ville Valo: singing for HIM
Finland’s exports in popular music tend to be eccentric and loud, much like the band HIM, which is short for “His Infernal Majesty.” Lead singer Ville Valo, who is at least as recognizable for his tattoos as he is for his voice, laments old flames and lost love, using music as a means “to make sense of the world.”
Isaac Hayes: more than just ‘Chef’
Hayes wrote many of the greatest hits of the 1970s, including his soundtrack for the blockbuster “Shaft” in 1971. He is considered to be a vanguard of spoken word, rap and hip-hop around the world. Younger audiences mainly know him for his voice-over work as the the character of “Chef” on the animated US-series “South Park.” Hayes died, aged 65, in 2008.
Till Lindemann: Germany’s iconic rock star
Till Lindemann’s band “Rammstein” is one of the greatest names in German music. Rammstein’s sold-out concerts are a feast for the senses where costumes, pyrotechnics and dramaturgy are incredibly well-rehearsed and coordinated. The band from Berlin might not be everyone’s cup of tea, however, Rammstein’s popularity has grown steadily for almost 30 years.