Artist and Band Biographies

Artist/Band biography

All artists covered by Spytunes are represented here

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Artists & Bands featured in the step by step courses

To learn about popular music and playing the guitar you have to study the big songs. The songs that everybody knows, the hits.

To write guitar parts, vocal melodies, chord progressions, and to arrange songs you must learn from the big names.

You must dig deep and find out what they did.

Behind every single song you learn in the step by step courses, there’s an artist or band with an entire catalog of music that you can learn from.

To find out more about them, follow the links below.


10cc

10cc-thumbWith influences such as the late Beatles and Frank Zappa, 10cc was not your average middle of the road band.

Similarly to Supertramp, 10cc was almost prog/rock/pop with long instrumental sections and lots of different styles mixed. Major hits include Dreadlock Holiday and I’m Not In Love.

Go to 10cc biography.


Al Green

al-green-thumbAl Green is an American gospel and soul singer who has enjoyed great popularity since the early 70s.

Among his hits, you’ll find Let’s Stay Together and Take Me To The River as well as covers of A Change Is Gonna Come, Unchained Melody, Light My Fire, and My Girl.

Go to Al Green biography.


Ann Peebles

ann-peebles-thumbAnn Peebles is an internationally acclaimed singer and songwriter, best known for her popular Memphis soul albums of the 70s on Hi Records.

Two of her better-known songs are I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down and I Can’t Stand The Rain.

Go to Ann Peebles biography.


Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. Considered by most critics and peers as the greatest singer of all time.

Born in Detroit and looking for a record deal in 1960, Aretha seemed like the perfect match for Berry Gordy’s emerging label Motown. However, Aretha’s dominant father/manager had other ideas.

Go to Aretha Franklin biography.


Barrett Strong

Barrett Strong was the first artist on the Motown label to have a hit. The song was Money (That’s What I Want). Performed by Barrett, it was written by the president of the label and a sign of what was to come.

As well as having his own solo career, Barrett also wrote the lyrics to many of Motown’s biggest hits.

Go to Barrett Strong biography.


The Beatles

the-beatles-thumbThe Beatles are the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed band in the history of popular music.

The Beatles were the leaders of the so-called British Invasion. With their catchy Rock & Roll infused pop they took America by storm, creating hysteria everywhere they went.

Go to The Beatles biography.


Ben Harper

ben-harper-thumbBen Harper is an American roots musician who has stretched his appeal around the globe by recording covers of Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing and The Verve‘s The Drugs Don’t Work.

Harper’s first album, Welcome To The Cruel World (94), was followed by Fight For Your Mind only a year later.

Go to Ben Harper biography.


Berry Gordy

Berry Gordy is the man behind the hit factory that was Motown. The idea behind the label came from working in a car factory.

Housing the label, the studio, and a house band all in the same building proved to be a masterstroke as Berry set out to discover the greatest superstars of our time.

Go to Berry Gordy biography.


Bessie Smith

bessie-smith-thumbBessie Smith was an American blues singer who was nicknamed The Queen Of Blues and later upgraded to Empress.

Smith is often regarded as one of the greatest singers of her era (the 20s and 30s) and along with Louis Armstrong, a major influence on subsequent jazz vocalists.

Go to Bessie Smith biography.


Bill Withers

bill-withers-thumbBill Withers is an American singer-songwriter who performed and recorded from the late 60s until the mid-80s.

Some of his best-known songs include Ain’t No Sunshine, Use Me, Lovely Day, Lean on Me, Grandma’s Hands, and Just The Two Of Us.

Go to Bill Withers biography.


Bob Dylan

bob-dylan-thumbWidely regarded as the most influential artist in popular culture, Bob Dylan has been covered and copied by almost everyone who ever attempted to write a song.

Some might even say he invented modern songwriting.

Go to Bob Dylan biography.


Bob Marley

bob-marley-thumbBob Marley was a Jamaican singer, songwriter, guitarist, and activist.

Marley is the most widely known performer of reggae music and regarded by many as a prophet of the Rastafarian religion.

Few artists have had such widespread recognition as Bob Marley.

Go to Bob Marley biography.


Clarence Williams

clarence-williams-thumbClarence Williams was an American jazz pianist, composer, promoter, vocalist, theatrical producer, and publisher.

Touring and recording with some of the most legendary blues artists of his time, Clarence Williams spent time with W.C Hardy, Bessie Smith, and Louis Armstrong.

Go to Clarence Williams biography.


Cream

cream-thumbCream was a 60s British super group that Eric Clapton joined after his time with John Mayhall and The Bluesbreakers.

Cream’s sound could be described as a hybrid of blues, pop, and psychedelic rock. Their hits include Crossroads, Sunshine Of Your Love, Strange Brew, and White Room.

Go to Cream biography.


Damien Rice

damien-rice-thumbOriginally, Rice was a member of Juniper but on the evening of recording their first full album, Rice changed his mind and left the band.

Rice moved to Italy to start afresh, writing songs and busking his way around Europe.

Go to Damien Rice biography.


Daniel Merriweather

daniel-merriweather-thumbAustralian Daniel Merriweather first started working with Mark Ronson in ’03, appearing on his Here Comes The Fuzz.

After a few more collaborations with Ronson, they finally made a solo album for Merriweather that was released in ’09.

Go to Daniel Merriweather biography.


David Bowie

david-bowie-thumbDavid Bowie was an English singer, songwriter, actor, multi-instrumentalist, producer, arranger, and audio engineer.

His biggest hits include (Is There) Life On Mars?, Starman, Ziggy Stardust, Let’s Dance, China Girl, and Heroes.

Go to David Bowie biography.


David Gilmour

david-gilmour-thumbDavid Gilmour is an English musician, best known as the lead guitarist, primary singer, and one of the main songwriters in the band Pink Floyd.

Known for his melodic ability and fantastic tone, David Gilmour has always been considered one of the truly great British guitar players.

Go to David Gilmour biography.


David Gray

david-gray-thumbDavid Gray is an English singer-songwriter.

After many years of struggling with unsuccessful releases on different labels, David ended up recording the album White Ladder in his bedroom.

Since the release, he has toured the world.

Go to David Gray biography.


Don McLean

don-mclean-thumbDon McLean is an American singer-songwriter most famous for his ’71 songs American Pie and Vincent.

When McLean’s indie label Media Arts got sold to United Artists, he got an unexpected chance to make his second album for a major label.

Go to Don McLean biography.


Doris Day

doris-day-thumbHaving achieved success as a big band singer, film actress, recording artist, and radio and television performer, Doris Day became one of America’s best-loved entertainers of the 50s.

Among her most famed vocal performances are Dream A Little Dream Of Me, Que Sera, Sera, and Over The Rainbow.

Go to Doris Day biography.


Dusty Springfield

Dusty Springfield is the 60s and 70s singer from London U.K who was a big part of bringing American R&B and soul to the U.K

Her most famous songs include Son Of A Preacher Man, Spooky, You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me, and I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself.

Go to Dusty Springfield biography.


Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald released 61 studio albums and 25 live albums between 1936 and 1989. Crowned the First Lady Of Song, she is recognized for performing and recording most of the Great American Songbook.

Before the Songbook recordings, Ella pioneered scat-singing in the 40s as a devoted Bebop singer.

Go to Ella Fitzgerald biography.


Eric Clapton

eric-clapton-thumbAs well as being in bands like Derek & The Dominos, The Yardbirds and Cream, Clapton has successfully played sessions for more stars than any other guitar player ever lived.

Clapton’s long career has earned him not one, not two but three inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame (as a solo artist with Yardbirds and Cream).

Go to Eric Clapton biography.


Eva Cassidy

eva-cassidy-thumbEva Cassidy was an American guitar player and vocalist who didn’t reach fame until after she passed away on November 2nd ’96.

Four years later, an amateur recording of Eva playing Over The Rainbow in her local pub was played on Top of the Pops 2, a TV show in the U.K.

Go to Eva Cassidy biography.


Fontella Bass

Fontella Bass spent a large amount of her life chasing a royalty check she never received for her million-selling smash hit Rescue Me.

It took her 28 years until she got paid, but it wasn’t in royalties for writing the song.

Go to Fontella Bass biography.


Frank Sinatra

frank-sinatra-thumbFrank’s legacy might best be summed up by Stephen Holden who wrote for the 1983 Rolling Stone Record Guide:

“Frank Sinatra’s voice is pop music history. Like Presley and Dylan – Sinatra will last indefinitely. He virtually invented modern pop song phrasing.”

Go to Frank Sinatra biography.


The Fratellis

the-fratellis-thumbBeing one of the few bands named after their manager, The Fratellis shot to fame during late 2006, and mainly 2007 when they had three successful singles from their debut album Costello Music.

Since their debut, The Fratellis have continued to gather new fans around the UK with their blues-influenced pop songs.

Go to The Fratellis biography.


The Funk Brothers

Motown’s house band didn’t have an official name, only they knew they were the Funk Brothers.

The band played on pretty much everything Motown released until ’72 when they relocated to Los Angeles and the band found a note on the hit factory door.

Go to The Funk Brothers biography.


Gary Jules

gary-jules-thumbGary Jules is an American singer-songwriter, best known for his cover of Mad World by Tears For Fears. It became the UK Christmas number one single in ’03.

Following the worldwide success, Gary Jules kept selling his own CDs on CD Baby as well as the song being released through a label.

Go to Gary Jules biography.


Green Day

green-day-thumbGreen Day’s third album, Dookie (94), took the band to superstardom. With fifteen million copies sold, they became everyone’s favorite punk trio.

After a few more albums and years of touring, Green Day released American Idiot (04). This album firmly established them as one of the best-known bands in the world.

Go to Green Day biography.


Harold Arlen

harold-arlen-thumbHarold Arlen wrote over four hundred songs. His 1938 song Over The Rainbow was voted the twentieth century’s #1 song by the RIAA.

Nobody has had more songs represented in the Great American Songbook than Harold Arlen.

Go to Harold Arlen biography.


Holland-Dozier-Holland

Lamont Dozier and brother Eddie and Brian Holland was Motown’s main songwriting team in Motown’s hit factory during the 60s.

Their hits are so many and their influence is so great it is a mystery how their names are not more widely known.

Go to Holland-Dozier-Holland biography.


Jason Mraz

jason-mraz-thumbMraz’s second album, Mr. A-Z was released in 2005. Jason promoted it by touring as a support act for Alanis Morrisette, Tracy Chapman, and James Blunt the world over.

It was as if the stage was set for Jason to finally release the smash hit everyone knew he’d already written.

Go to Jason Mraz biography.


Judy Garland

judy-graland-thumbJudy Garland shot to worldwide fame when she sang Over The Rainbow in the 1939 Blockbuster The Wizard of Oz at only sixteen years old.

Amazingly, she had made an astonishing twelve films prior to The Wizard Of Oz.

Go to Judy Garland biography.


The Kinks

the-kinks-thumbCategorized as a British invasion band, along with the other members of the so-called Big Four, The Kinks changed popular music forever.

Among their hits, you find Lola, Sunny Afternoon and You Really Got Me, which fourteen years later would be covered by Van Halen using a much louder amp.

Go to The Kinks biography.


Madeleine Peyroux

madeleine-peuyroux-thumbMadeleine Peyroux is an American jazz singer, songwriter, and guitarist.

Often compared to Billie Holiday for her vocal similarities, Peyroux’s second solo album only had one original tune on it, Don’t Wait Too Long.

Go to Madeleine Peyroux biography.


Mama Cass

mama-cass-thumbMama Cass spent most of her time and had the most success with the band The Mamas & The Papas. They were a hugely successful vocal group between 1965 and 1968.

During this short period of time, the band became world-famous by getting eleven top 40 singles from five albums.

Go to Mama Cass biography.


Martha and the Vandellas

Martha met her Vandellas as she was a secretary at Motown’s hit factory where her soon to be backing singers sang for Marvin Gaye.

Together they had seven years of hits including Jimmy Mack, Nowhere To Run, and perhaps Motown’s biggest hit of them all in Dancing In The Street.

Go to Martha and the Vandellas biography.


Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye helped to shape the Motown sound as a drummer, session singer, writer, lead singer and producer in the 60’s and 70’s.

Marvin’s hits include I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Can I Get A Witness, and politically fueled What’s Going On.

Go to Marvin Gaye biography.


Mary Wells

Mary Wells was a female superstar for early Motown and an important part of the label’s success. Smokey Robinson and Motown’s main songwriting team Holland-Dozier-Holland all wrote for her.

Things started to go sour when Berry Gordy started prioritizing other singers.

Go to Mary Wells biography.


Matt Dennis

matt-dennis-thumbBeing exposed to music from an early age with his parents both being professional musicians, Matt Dennis took to the piano, singing and arranging like a fish to water!

Performing with his family from an early age in the Vaudeville tradition, Matt got to know American showbiz before he even learned to read or write.

Go to Matt Dennis biography.


Oasis

oasis-thumbOasis was an English rock band led by two brothers, guitarist and songwriter Noel Gallagher and lead vocalist Liam Gallagher.

With 8 #1 singles, 15 NME Awards, 9 Q Awards, 4 MTV Europe awards and 5 Brit awards. The Guinness Book Of Hit Singles And Albums declared Oasis the Most Successful Act of the 90s.

Go to Oasis biography.


Ocean Colour Scene

ocean-colour-scene-thumbOcean Colour Scene (OCS) are an English rock band from Birmingham. The band had the most success with their 1996 album Moseley Shoals.

The album contained the band’s three biggest hits in The Riverboat Song, The Day We Caught The Train, and You’ve Got It Bad.

Go to Ocean Colour Scene biography.


Paolo Nutini

paolo-nutini-thumbPaolo Nutini’s career started when an artist was late to perform in his school, Paolo was asked by the music teacher to go up and sing a song.

The reaction from the crowd to Paolo’s naturally stunning voice caught the attention of his (soon to be) manager who happened to be in the crowd.

Go to Paolo Nutini biography.


Paul Simon

paul-simon-thumbPaul Simon is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, both as half of the folk-singing duo Simon and Garfunkel and also as a solo artist.

His many hits include Homeward Bound, Scarborough Fair, You Can Call Me Al, The Boxer, Cecilia, Mrs. Robinson, and Graceland.

Go to Paul Simon biography.


Peggy Lee

peggy-lee-thumbPeggy Lee was an American jazz and traditional pop singer, songwriter, and actress.

Her most famous performances include Black Coffee, Big Spender, Why Don’t You Do Right? and Fever.

Go to Peggy Lee biography.


Phil Spector

Phil Spector is a guitarist, record producer, and songwriter who found fame working with The Crystals, The Ronettes, Tina Turner, and The Beatles.

His biggest hits include River Deep, Mountain High, Unchained Melody, Be My Baby, The Long And Winding Road, My Sweet Lord, Let It Be, and Imagine.

Go to Phil Spector biography.


Pink Floyd

pink-floyd-thumbPink Floyd are an English rock band that sold an estimated seventy-five million albums in the United States alone.

With their laid-back blues-influenced psychedelic rock, they had hits like Another Brick In The Wall, Comfortably Numb, Money, and Wish You Were Here.

Go to Pink Floyd biography.


Plain White T’s

plain-white-ts-thumbPlain White T’s are an American rock band who had great success with their song Hey There Delilah, charting at #1 in many countries in 2007.

Using a very persistent marketing technique, Hey There Delilah was pushed for over two years before it was finally #1.

Go to Plain White T’s biography.


Robbie Williams

robbie-williams-thumbRobbie Williams is a fifteen-time BRIT Award-winning English pop singer. Williams’ career started as a member of the pop band Take That in 1990.

When Robbie left Take That in 1995 to pursue a solo career, he had sold twenty-five five million records with the group.

Go to Robbie Williams biography.


The Rolling Stones

the-rolling-stones-thumbThe Rolling Stones are an English band that became popular in the early 60s. Incredibly, the band has stuck together ever since.

They’ve had great success with tunes like Start Me Up, Satisfaction, Wild Horses, Angie, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, and Honky Tonk Women.

Go to The Rolling Stones biography.


The Ronettes

The Ronettes are the 60s vocal group behind one of Phil Spector’s biggest wall of sound hits, Be My Baby.

The lead singer, Veronica Bennett, later known as Ronnie Spector, eventually married the eccentric producer who ended up taking her off a Beatles support tour only to lock her up in his mansion.

Go to The Ronettes biography.


Sam Cooke

sam-cooke-thumbSam Cooke has been called The King Of Soul. His legacy is extensive and his impact on soul music is undeniable.

Between 1957 and 1963, Sam Cooke managed twenty-nine top 40 hits including You Send Me, Chain Gang, A Change Is Gonna Come, Wonderful World, and Bring It On Home To Me.

Go to Sam Cooke biography.


Sam & Dave

Sam & Dave are a Soul duo that made their most successful recordings with Stax house band Booker T and The MG’s.

Two years before they would eventually part ways, The Blues Brothers were released in the cinema, the film gave their career one final boost. However, neither Sam or Dave seemed happy about it.

Go to Sam & Dave biography.


Simon & Garfunkel

simon-garfunkel-thumbThe duo of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel was a hugely successful American folk duo.

Their hits include Homeward Bound, Scarborough Fair, The Boxer, Mrs. Robinson, Bridge Over Troubled Water, and American Tune.

Go to Simon & Garfunkel biography.


Sixpence None The Richer

sixpence-none-the-richer-thumbSixpence None The Richer is a Christian rock band mainly known for their hit single Kiss Me along with covers of Don’t Dream It’s Over and There She Goes.

The band has had both breakups and reunions since.

Go to Sixpence None The Richer biography.


Smokey Robinson

Smokey Robinson is a huge part of Motown’s success. Not only was he an artist with many hits in his own band The Miracles, but he also wrote and produced a massive part of Motown’s 60s catalog.

Smokey’s hits include Shop Around, You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me, The Tears of a Clown, My Guy, My Girl, and Get Ready.

Go to Smokey Robinson biography.


Spanky Wilson

spanky-wilson-thumbSpanky Wilson is an American vocalist best known for her version of Sunshine Of Your Love, by Cream.

Wilson has shared the stage alongside many soul and jazz legends, including Marvin Gaye, Sammy Davis Jr., Jimmy McGriff, and Jimmy Smith.

Go to Spanky Wilson biography.


Stevie Wonder

stevie-wonder-thumbStevie Wonder is the legend whom most practicing musicians come across, that has a life-changing impact on them.

Stevie’s natural groove and ability to so purely express music are untouched. His vocal phrasing and songwriting are second to none.

Go to Stevie Wonder biography.


Sting

sting-thumbSting is an English musician who, prior to his solo career, had a band called The Police, with Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers.

Formed in 1977, The Police reached worldwide success after releasing their first single Roxanne only a year after they formed the band.

Go to Sting biography.


The Supremes

The Supremes are the most successful American vocal group of all time.

Lead by Diana Ross, they delivered number #1’s like Where Did Our Love Go, Baby Love, Stop! In the Name of Love, You Can’t Hurry Love, and You Keep Me Hangin’ On.

Go to The Supremes biography.


Tears For Fears

tears-for-fears-thumbTears for Fears are an English pop band that has sold more than twenty-two million albums.

With hits like Mad World, Seeds Of Love and Everybody Wants To Rule The World, Tears For Fears were one of the biggest bands around in the 80s.

Go to Tears For Fears biography.


The Temptations

The Temptations are a five-piece vocal group that has been active since 1960. After the original five members, another nineteen singers have come and gone.

Early hits like My Girl were produced by Smokey Robinson, later they ventured into a more psychedelic soul with Papa Was A Rolling Stone.

Go to The Temptations biography.


The Verve

the-verve-thumbThe Verve is a British rock band formed in 1989, in Wigan. Among their bigger hits, you’ll find Bitter Sweet Symphony and The Drugs Don’t Work.

Since their first debut album, A Storm In Heaven, critics have always favored The Verve as one of the best 90s British rock acts.

Go to The Verve biography.


Tracy Chapman

tracy-chapman-thumbTracy Chapman is an American singer-songwriter, best known for her singles Fast Car, Talking About A Revolution, and Baby Can I Hold You from her self-entitled titled debut album Tracy Chapman.

Amazingly, these were the three first songs on the debut.

Go to Tracy Chapman biography.


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