As each June 21, we celebrate the Music’s day with the emotion of being able to thank our favorite artists for what they have done for us. Not always literally, of course, but some of his songs have accompanied us in the most important and memorable moments of our lives. Whether it’s imitating a guitar solo or dancing to a catchy chorus, we’ve gotten excited, laughed, and cried at the noble art of song and that’s a dingo to celebrate.
However, we tend to think that those who put a voice and a face to those songs that mark us are the only people who participate in that connection with us and it is never too late to reflect and recognize that this is not true at all. Because, have you ever thought about the amount of artists who stayed on the verge of success and they never saw their work recognized? And in those that appear in the credits with tiny letters and we have never sharpened our eyes to see who it is?
We can understand that they are unanswered questions, but we believe that, once you have read this article, you are going to look beyond the famous on duty that puts the name on the cover of your favorite album.
His name may not sound like anything to you, but you have surely sung his songs (or part of them) a million times. Some of us met her as a result of the play The song factory by John Seabrook, where part of what has been and is his work was exposed: to create hooks. These are the small musical parts that manage to hook whoever hears them and remain in their memory no matter how much they want to erase it.
And what can we attribute to his pencil and paper? Lines and phrases of all kinds that you have lived with for years. From the “she, she, eh, eh, eh” of success Umbrella from Rihanna and Jay-Z to the Roar by Katy Perry. How did you stay?
Singer Ester Dean, in an episode of ‘Boyz II Men’ / Getty / NBC
Another character that we might not know, if it weren’t for the fact that the director Daniel Vernon recovered his name for his latest documentary, All the lives of Ike White (2019). The truth is that this man’s life did not lack anything, perhaps fame, but the rest he had … and in abundance.
Women, drugs and alcohol were part of his daily routine and he spent several years of his life in prison, where he created the funk album Changin’ Times. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder and decided to take his own life. Fame did not come to him at the time despite the quality of the album, but we cannot deny that he is a being worthy of prying.
If not for the documentary that received the Oscar Award in 2012, Searching For Sugar Man, many today would not know the figure of this artist born in Detroit. Just for having done it in the cradle of Motown could be the incentive to have achieved some recognition, but neither the industry nor the public did it and he fell into the most absolute disgrace for a musician: anonymity.
It was very far from the country where he was born, in South Africa, where he established himself as the essential artist that he was (be careful, he influenced groups such as The Beatles or Simon & Garfunkel). At a time when repression and discrimination were the norm, critical and committed music from Sixto was a reference. When he found out, he gave several concerts, but decided to continue with his modest lifestyle.
Sixto Rodríguez, during a concert at CityFolk Festival in Ottawa, 2017. / Getty Images / Mark Horton
It sounds macabre, but it is very sad to praise the figure of an artist of the caliber of Karen Dalton many years after his death. However, she is one of the most recognized folk singers for the emblems of popular music, such as Bob Dylan O Nick Cave (The latter is a declared fan).
Karen was a very peculiar woman: she disliked the lucrative profile of the music industry, had constant personality changes, and hated singing in public. On occasion, by the way, it has been said that it could be la Billie Holiday del folk. With a depressive and melancholic attitude, she died at the age of 55 practically alone, after a turbulent life marked by the use of amphetamines.
By the way, his life has already been transferred to the screen in documentary format, In My Own Time: A Portrait of Karen Dalton, in November 2020, but it has not yet arrived in Spain.
At the end of last month the news of the death of John Davis, the real vocalist of Milli y Vanilli who spent years and years away from the spotlight, inside the recording studio. This is because this rap duo was a sham conceived by record producer Frank Farian, who hired them for their extraordinary dancing skills.
The voice was something else … there was a way to fake it and it was through playback. They were handsome and knew how to dance, but the lie did not last long. After winning the Grammy Award in the category of Best New Artist, the producer gave them away and ended his short-lived career. Its unfortunate end led to a spiral of crimes and hospitalizations of one of them, Rob Pilatus, who was found dead at only 34 years old. A tragedy.