ByNathan Fleischman, writer at
Nathan Fleischman

This is my second follow-up to a post on the documentary series, Howard Goodall's 20th Century Greats. In my first follow-up, I talked about the most influential composers who came before the ones featured in the show. Now, I intend to talk about composers who came after them in a few parts since the list is long. If Howard Goodall's 20th Century Greats was revived, I bet these composers would be given episodes. Here is the first part of this list:

Bob Dylan

I will first start with a contemporary of the Beatles. His name was Bob Dylan. He started in folk music in the style of Pete Seeger. He then wrote protest songs like Blowin' in the Wind and The Times They Are A-Changin' which became civil rights and anti-war anthems. Bob Dylan's music during this time was influenced by the Beat Generation. Then in 1965, Bob Dylan picked up an electric guitar. This was highly controversial. However, this influenced many rock bands including the Who with their song My Generation. In fact, if Bob Dylan hadn't picked up an electric guitar, the Beatles would not have revolutionized popular music. I was disappointed that Bob Dylan was not the subject of an episode of the show. He makes the list because he influenced the Beatles and psychedelic rock.

Brian Wilson

The lead singer and song-writer of the Beach Boys had to make this list. Brian Wilson composed most of the songs in the early years of the Beach Boys career. Their most influential album was Pet Sounds which contained influences from classical music. The songs, most of which contained lyrics by Tony Asher, made use of classical instruments. The two instrumental tracks had an exotic sound with classical and jazz instruments. Brian Wilson helped invent sound art. His piece, Good Vibrations (composed with Mike Love), was referred to as a pocket symphony. The Beach Boys helped bring about psychedelic and progressive rock. Their album, Pet Sounds, also influenced the Beatles to produce their famous album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. That is why Brian Wilson is on this list.

Ravi Shankar

Ravi Shankar was a Bengali sitar player who influenced the Beatles. He became a composer of sitar works in 1944. In 1956, he toured Europe and the United States. In the 1960s, Shankar influenced George Harrison of the Beatles. Together they would take part in the Concert for Bangladesh in 1971, one year after the Beatles broke up. He also worked with Yehudi Menuhin and composed classical music for the sitar during the 1970s. It is his influence on popular and classical music that puts him on this list.

James Brown

James Brown was the most influential musician in the world of soul music. It is for this reason that he is called the Godfather of Soul. His songs included I Got You (I Feel Good) and others. James Brown influenced the development of funk music in the 1970s which in turn led to disco. As one the most influential African-American musicians, he also influenced the Rolling Stones who are also on this list. His influence is the reason James Brown makes this list.


The Rolling Stones are still active today. Ever since coming to America in 1964, they have been known as the bad-boys of rock music. When they started out, they were mostly doing covers of blues pieces. It was not until 1965 that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards started writing songs for the Rolling Stones. There signature song, I Can' Get No Satisfaction, was their first No. 1 in the US. It was even covered by Otis Redding. Jagger and Richards even incorporated exotic instruments like the sitar in Paint It Black, the dulcimer in Lady Jane, and the marimbas in Under My Thumb. Then, there came the Rolling Stones' Golden Age with albums like Beggar's Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and, last of all, Exile on Main Street. Jagger and Richards influenced the development of garage rock, punk rock, heavy metal, and alternative rock. That is why they make the list.

John Barry

John Barry was a composer and arranger who is best known for his work in the James Bond films. Barry did not compose the theme for the James Bond films. Monty Norman did. John Barry did, however, arrange it. He was influenced by Phil Spector, Max Steiner, and Bernard Herrmann, among others. Dr. No, the first James Bond film from 1962, was influenced by North by Northwest for which Bernard Herrmann composed the film score. The James Bond theme, however, was influenced by the surf music of California. The style of the James Bond theme would influence the themes of other spy films and TV series outside of the James Bond franchise including Mission: Impossible, Austin Powers, and even some superhero films like RoboCop and The Incredibles. This is the reason why he makes this list.

Ennio Morricone

Ennio Morricone was probably the most influential film composer of the 1960s after Bernard Herrmann. He is best known for his work in the Spaghetti Western genre. His film scores for the Dollars Trilogy are his most famous compositions. They are completely different from Elmer Bernstein's film score for a fellow remake of an Akira Kurosawa film, The Magnificent Seven. Elmer Bernstein's score shows the influence of Aaron Copland while Morricone's scores are more influenced by Country and Western music. Morricone, in fact, influenced many country music stars as well as other music stars beyond that. Metallica always performs Ecstasy of Gold form the third film in the Dollars Trilogy, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly at their concerts. Thus, Ennio Morricone makes this list.

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix was a guitarist, singer, and songwriter from the 1960s. In 1967, he formed the Jimi Hendrix Experience. He achieved fame in the UK with his songs, Hey Joe, Purple Haze, and The Wind Cries Mary. He then achieved popularity in the US by appearing at the Monterrey Pop Festival. It was his 1968 album, Electric Ladyland, that reached number one on the charts. He explored the outer edges of psychedelic rock with his songs and influenced all rock bands that came afterward. He also headlined Woodstock and the Isle of Wight festival. Sadly, he died of a drug overdose in 1970. His influence on later composers and guitarists is why he makes this list.

Lou Reed

No, the Velvet Underground was not commercially successful. But it is one of the most influential music rock groups of the late '60s and early '70s. At the helm of almost all of Velvet Underground's songs was Lou Reed, the band's songwriter. The debut album of the Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground and Nico, is probably the most important of the band's albums. Lou Reed wrote all the songs with some help on a few of them including fellow band member John Cale who helped formulate the band's sound. The songs were influenced by John Cage, most notably with the song All Tomorrow's Parties. If the Velvet Underground hadn't existed, punk rock would not have emerged. That is why he makes this list.

Paul Simon

Paul Simon is the last composer from the 1960s on this list. He started out with Art Garfunkel as part of the duo Simon & Garfunkel. Their songs were used in the 1967 movie The Graduate including the famous song Mrs. Robinson. Paul Simon was even successful as a solo artist. His 1973 song American Tune was influenced by St. Matthew's Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach. In 1986, he released Graceland which included songs written by him that were influenced by the music of the South African townships. He influenced many other composers. That is why he makes this list.

Lalo Schifrin

Lalo Schifrin was an Argentine composer influenced by jazz. He spent most of his life in the United States. He started his career in the United States working with Dizzy Gillespie. He then moved on to television scores. Television was a new medium at the time. Schifrin did a jazz arrangement of Jerry Goldsmith's theme from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. for the show's second season. His most famous piece for television was the Theme from Mission: Impossible which took influences from Monty Norman's James Bond Theme. Schifrin also composed film scores. His most notable film score was for the Clint Eastwood movie Dirty Harry. Through his work in film and television, Lalo Schifrin influenced the development of the jazz-classical fusion style known as Third Stream, and also likely influenced Bernard Herrmann's film score for Taxi Driver. That is why Lalo Schifrin is on this list.

Carole King

Born Carole Joan Klein, Carole King was raised in a Jewish household. She started her career in the Brill Building in the 1960s collaborating with then-husband Gerry Goffin. Together, they composed hit songs for other acts. After they divorced, Carole King became one of the leading singer-songwriters in the United States. Her second album, Tapestry, included her own recordings of songs from her Brill Building days as well as new songs. Carole King's songs were very influential in popular culture and have been covered many times. That is why Carole King is on this list.

Jimmy Page

Yes, the main songwriter and guitarist for Led Zeppelin. Led Zeppelin was to the 1970s, what the Beatles was to the 1960s. Jimmy Page took what he knew from his time with The Yardbirds, the same band that produced Eric Clapton, and incorporated it into a new hard rock style. His most famous song, Stairway to Heaven, is Led Zeppelin's signature song. It goes from folk rock to progressive rock to hard rock. Another song, Kashmir, contains influences from the Middle East. Through Jimmy Page's songs, often composed with Robert Plant's help, Led Zeppelin influenced the hard rock bands that came after them as well as heavy metal bands, and even grunge. That is why Jimmy Page makes this list.

Ozzy Osbourne

Led Zeppelin is all and good, but where would heavy metal be without Black Sabbath. While the entire band was involved in most of Black Sabbath's songs, it is Ozzy Osbourne who makes this list because his work goes beyond that band. It was thanks to him that heavy metal was born with help from his bandmates. Songs he wrote included Iron Man, Paranoid, and War Pigs. Even as a solo artist, Osbourne continues to be influential with songs like Crazy Train. His influence on heavy metal is very significant. That is why he makes this list.

Deep Purple

Speaking of heavy metal, another influential band in that genre was Deep Purple. They started out in progressive rock and were influenced by classical music. They even composed a concerto. Think of that. Deep Purple's heavy metal sound was not influenced by blues rock like that Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath. Instead, it was influenced by classical music. Deep Purple ended up influencing later hard rock and heavy metal bands through their songs which they composed. That is why the band is on this list.

Steven Tyler

Steven Tyler is the lead singer and main songwriter for the hard rock band Aerosmith. He wrote all of the songs for Aerosmith, often with the help of others like fellow band member Joe Perry. Some songs Aerosmith became famous for included Dream On, Sweet Emotion, and Walk This Way. Aerosmith ended up influencing later hard rock and heavy metal bands as well as grunge. They regained popularity when Walk This Way was arranged for a collaboration with Run-D.M.C. Thus, Steven Tyler also influenced hip-hop. That is why he is on this list.

Roger Waters

During the 1970s, progressive rock was all the rage. The most notable progressive rock band of all time is Pink Floyd. After Syd Barrett left the band in 1968, Roger Waters took his place. The Dark Side of the Moon was the most influential concept album of the 1970s. Waters followed with more albums like Wish You Were Here, Animals, The Wall, and The Final Cut. These albums used some of the most innovative recording techniques ever including multitrack recording and tape loops. They even used synthesizers and studio effects. They even used a classical orchestra in The Wall and The Final Cut. Roger Waters make this list for his role in Pink Floyd and progressive rock.

Steve Reich

Minimalism has been the most popular style of classical music since World War II. One of the most notable minimalist composers is Steve Reich. He is one of two minimalist composers on this part of the list (The other being Philip Glass.). Reich's first major work was his composition for magnetic tape which also counts as process music, It's Gonna Rain. This piece would influence the development ambient music. Reich's music in the 1980s incorporated elements of his Jewish heritage, most notably Different Trains which was about the Holocaust and Reich's experience as a Jew in America during that time. His minimalist work is the reason why he is on this list.

Philip Glass

Philip Glass is the only other minimalist composer on this part of the list. (John Adams will be in another part.) He studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. Glass's career in minimalism started in 1967 with Strung Out. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, he composed his Portrait Trilogy of operas. His first, Einstein on the Beach, is probably the most notable of three operas. This opera has no specific plot, but it meant to focus on Albert Einstein who revolutionized science. It uses knee plays to separate the acts. In 1982, he also composed the film score for Koyaanisqatsi, his most notable film score. His music is connected to rock music, ambient music, electronic music, and world music. That's why he makes this list.


Just as influential as the Beatles is this rock band known as Kraftwerk. Florian Schneider and Ralf Hütter clearly surpassed themselves. Their first international breakthrough was Autobahn in 1974. The group is best known for its use of synthesizers instead of conventional instruments. Occasionally, they would use conventional instruments. However, they are best known for influencing other electronic music groups as well as David Bowie who is also on this part of the list. They themselves were influenced by Karlheinz Stockhausen. Very few people have even heard of Kraftwerk. They make it here because they influenced other synthpop groups.

Brian Eno

Brian Eno was one of the principal composers of ambient music and is the one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. Ambient music is an offshoot of minimalism. When Eno went solo in 1973, his music went from glam rock to ambient music. His style was very experimental with a lot of electronic instruments. Brian Eno even did collaborations with other composers like David Bowie. One of his more recent contributions to the musical repertoire was the startup music for Windows 95 known as the Microsoft Sound. Brian Eno influenced everything from punk to techno to new age. That is why he makes this list.

David Bowie

When it comes to experimental rock music, David Bowie, who died on January 10, is number 1. His experimental music is famous. His first single was Space Oddity in 1969. His first album was The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars in 1972 with its hit single, Starman. Just as important is his Berlin Trilogy of albums. Influenced by minimalism, the albums, Low, Heroes, and Lodger, were David Bowie's most experimental albums. These minimalist albums helped influence punk rock. His experimental work is the reason why he makes this list.

This is just Part 1 of this list which focuses on composers from the 60s and experimental, minimalist, and heavy metal composers from the 70s. Part 2 will be coming soon and feature more composers that I think would appear on Howard Goodall's 20th Century Greats, focusing on R&B, disco, and film music composers from the 70s.


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