My name is Zack Smith, I am a popular music studies major at William Paterson University. I graduated from Pequannock Township High School in 2014, and participated in the jazz band and chamber choir during my four years as a high school student. I have been playing guitar since the age of 11 and have picked up other instruments along the way, including bass, drums, & piano. My favorite genres of music include Blues, Rock & Roll, & Heavy Metal. Music will always be my first love. The power of music is very strong and i think music’s true power is shown by the influence many musicians have left us with, years after their lifetime. I find it absolutely amazing that musicians that have tragically been deceased for many years still continue to inspire people with their music. People will come and go in this life, but music will never go anywhere.
There is without a doubt the greatest jam session of all time going on in heaven. Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Keith Moon, John Bonham, Kurt Cobain, John Lennon, Bon Scott, Freddie Mercury, & Randy Rhoads, are only a few people on the list of amazing musicians who have died too young. They all brought something new to this world, both during their lifetimes and after.
As a guitarist, one of my biggest influences is Randy Rhoads. Randy was the original guitarist for the band Quiet Riot, and eventually joined ex Black Sabbath singer Ozzy Osbourne’s band in 1980. Randy was very ahead of his time. His playing style was a very new sound that had never been heard before. He was a classically trained guitar player in a rock band. He was definitely one of the first guitar players to bring classical elements into the heavy metal genre. Randy died at the age of 25 in a tragic plane crash, but he undoubtedly left us with some of the most amazing riffs a human could possibly ask for. No guitar player who has come after Randy will deny his influence. Many other legendary metal guitarists including Zakk Wylde, Dimebag Darrell, and Gus G have all proclaimed their admiration for Randy. He is considered one of the greatest heavy metal guitarists of all time, and still remains one of the most influential musicians in the rock & roll genre.
One of the most influential drummers of all time was John Henry Bonham. Bonham was the backbone of Led Zeppelin for twelve years, until his tragic death in 1980. He was only 32 years old. It is truly amazing that if you ask any drummer who their biggest influence is, regardless of age, the answer 95% of the time is Bonzo. The musicianship and playing skills of both Bonham and Rhoads are some of the traits that really make them stand out among so many other musicians. They have an everlasting impact on not only rock & roll, but music in general.
One of the greatest vocalists of all time is Freddie Mercury. His heavenly voice can change from an angelic whisper to a monstrous roar in a matter of seconds. He is one of the few rock singers whose voice can work with any genre of music, and he definitely took advantage of this fact, incorporating many different styles into his band’s music. Freddie’s music has touched the lives of millions of people. His music has been carried on by his bandmates and friends, through shows like the Freddie Mercury tribute concert in 1992, and most recently, Queen + Adam Lambert. Freddie’s legacy has not diminished in the slightest for the past 24 years, and I doubt it ever will. Freddie will always live on.
To list every musician that has left an amazing legacy would take forever, but it truly is amazing to think about that power. Music will always play such an important role in people’s lives, and it is not going anywhere soon. The influence that many musicians have left behind will never diminish. It will only grow. All people need to do is keep spreading the love and power of music.
-Zack Smith, Popular Music Studies
WPU Class of ’18