30 musicians reveal the album that changed their life as a child

Musicians Reflect on Life-Changing Albums

The pivotal moments in a musician’s life often stem from the albums that captivated their hearts and set them on a lifelong musical journey. These records hold a unique power to inspire, influence, and shape the creative paths of these artists. We’ve had the chance to talk to 30 talented musicians who shared with us the albums that forever changed their lives. From iconic classics by renowned rock legends to hidden gems that left an indelible mark, their stories reveal the profound impact of music on their careers and identities.

Joe Elliott (Def Leppard) – T. Rex’s Electric Warrior (1971)

Joe Elliott’s musical awakening came with the discovery of T. Rex’s “Electric Warrior.” He fondly recalls receiving a stereo as a young kid and immersing himself in the world of music. A compilation album gifted by his parents introduced him to artists like Jethro Tull, Free, and Cat Stevens. This compilation eventually led him to trade for a copy of “Electric Warrior.” The album’s tracks, including “Get It On” and “Lean Woman Blues,” became deeply ingrained in his memory. Elliott vividly describes the album as etched into his very DNA.

Paul Stanley (Kiss) – The Beatles’ Rubber Soul (1965)

Paul Stanley’s transformative album was The Beatles’ “Rubber Soul.” He acknowledges the influence of Bob Dylan’s music on The Beatles during this period, leading to a more refined and expressive songwriting style. The album’s songs like “In My Life” and “Norwegian Wood” showcased the band’s depth and growth. For Stanley, this album epitomizes The Beatles’ ability to maintain their unique identity while embracing new influences.

Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath) – The Shadows’ Apache

Tony Iommi’s musical journey started with The Shadows’ “Apache.” While initially interested in playing drums, he switched to the guitar due to limited space in his home. The Shadows’ instrumental guitar-driven music, particularly tracks like “Apache” and “Wonderful Land,” captured his imagination. Iommi’s passion for The Shadows’ music resonated with fellow guitarists like Brian May and David Gilmour, and eventually contributed to the formation of Black Sabbath.

Ann Wilson (Heart) – Led Zeppelin’s Led Zeppelin IV (1971)

Ann Wilson’s life was forever changed by Led Zeppelin’s “Led Zeppelin IV.” The album’s impact on her was profound, as she was captivated by Robert Plant’s lyrics. Wilson highlights the emotional experience of singing and recreating the poetic words in her performances. The album marked a turning point for Led Zeppelin’s songwriting and deeply resonated with Wilson’s artistic sensibilities.

Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine) – The Clash’s London Calling (1979)

Tom Morello found his musical inspiration in The Clash’s “London Calling.” The album’s cover intrigued him, leading him to delve into the band’s music. The authenticity and conviction of The Clash’s performance, combined with their socially aware lyrics, resonated deeply with Morello. He credits the album for helping him realize that he wasn’t alone in his political awareness and musical aspirations.

Chris Robinson (The Black Crowes) – REM’s Murmur (1983)

For Chris Robinson, R.E.M.’s “Murmur” held a special place as his musical first love. The album’s connection to 1960s music through Peter Buck’s Rickenbacker guitar drew him in. R.E.M.’s bohemian aesthetic and Michael Stipe’s enigmatic lyrics further fueled his curiosity. Robinson considers R.E.M. to be anti-establishment and sees their influence in his own songwriting style.

Steve Lukather (Toto) – The Beatles’ With The Beatles (1963)

Steve Lukather’s life-changing album was The Beatles’ “With The Beatles” (released in the US as “Meet The Beatles”). He reminisces about the impact of hearing George Harrison’s guitar solo on “I Saw Her Standing There,” which inspired his own musical aspirations. Lukather’s journey eventually led him to collaborate with Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison, a testament to the profound influence of The Beatles on his career.

Stevie Nicks – Santana’s Abraxas (1970)

Stevie Nicks’ musical journey was ignited by Santana’s “Abraxas.” Drawn to the Latin flair and dynamic range of the album, she credits Santana for infusing indigenous rhythms into his music. The album’s psychedelic artwork and captivating instrumental moments left a lasting emotional impact on Nicks.

Steve Hackett – The London Philharmonic Orchestra, Ravel’s Boléro (1962)

Steve Hackett’s transformative album was Ravel’s “Boléro” performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The album’s powerful crescendo, blend of major and minor sections, and its influence on progressive rock resonated deeply with him. Hackett credits “Boléro” with seeping into his own musical compositions and contributing to the genre’s evolution.

Captain Sensible (The Damned) – The Groundhogs’ Thank Christ For The Bomb (1970)

Captain Sensible found his musical epiphany in The Groundhogs’ “Thank Christ For The Bomb.” The album’s fusion of punk rock, blues, and psychedelia captivated him. Tony McPhee’s guitar prowess and the album’s moody intensity left an indelible mark on Sensible’s musical tastes and songwriting.

Nightwish – Metallica’s The Black Album (1991)

The members of Nightwish credit Metallica’s “The Black Album” as a turning point in their musical journeys. Their introduction to Metallica’s powerful and punchy sound, especially the riff on “Sad But True,” ignited their passion for heavy metal. The album’s compositions, melodies, and impactful lyrics resonated deeply with the band.

Myles Kennedy (Alter Bridge) – Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite For Destruction (1987)

Myles Kennedy’s musical transformation was spurred by Guns N’ Roses’ “Appetite For Destruction.” The album’s primal energy, raw production, and element of danger left a lasting impression. Kennedy recalls the first time he saw Guns N’ Roses on MTV, describing it as a mind-blowing experience that solidified his love for the band.

These stories illuminate the power of music to shape lives, inspire creativity, and foster connections between artists and their audiences. These albums hold a special place in the hearts of these musicians, forever influencing their paths and enriching the world of music.

Dave Mustaine (Megadeth) – AC/DC’s Let There Be Rock (1977)

During my teenage years in Huntington Beach, California, there was this girl named Cindy who worked at a record store. I used to trade pot for records with her, and that’s how I stumbled upon AC/DC.

Upon playing the record for the first time, I couldn’t help but notice the unusual appearance of the guy on the back cover. However, as soon as the music started, my whole world changed.

The music felt oddly close, like it was right in front of me. Most albums surround you, but this one felt intimate, almost unsettling. I remember every detail, from the initial crackle before “ga-dun-gar!” in “Go Down” to the final guitar notes in “Whole Lotta Rosie.”

Even the song “Let There Be Rock” had its quirks. I remember being puzzled by the term “schmaltz” and thinking Bon Scott sounded like he had peanut butter stuck to his mouth. But my love for the band grew, and I started collecting everything they released.

Bon Scott became one of my heroes, so his passing was a sad moment for me. AC/DC remains a band I hold in high regard. Although Brian Johnson is incredibly talented, the band’s dynamic shifted for me after Bon’s departure. I’m thankful for AC/DC’s impact – they’re truly remarkable. NJ

Kevin Cronin (REO Speedwagon) – Crosby, Stills & Nash’s Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969)

Having been a big fan of Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, and The Hollies, the news of David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash collaborating excited me immensely.

I remember sitting at my girlfriend’s place to listen to the album. The opening track, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” captivated me. I replayed it multiple times before delving into the rest of the album.

As a fervent folk enthusiast, this album was a game-changer. It encapsulated the unique sound I had always imagined but couldn’t articulate. The impact was so profound that it spurred my desire to join a band and create my own music.

Witnessing CSN live, especially their Woodstock performance, was awe-inspiring. That gig had a profound effect on me. Over time, I collaborated with Stephen Stills on songwriting, an honor I hold dear.

The significance of this album is immeasurable. The trio reshaped the musical landscape, and it all began here. Combined with “Rubber Soul” and “Madman Across The Water,” this album could keep me content on a desert island.

Luke Morley (Thunder) – Montrose’s Montrose (1973)

The Saxon Tavern in Bellingham, South London, was the place I stood one Friday night in 1976 when I first encountered Montrose’s “Space Station #5.” The music grabbed me, and I was determined to find out more.

The following day, my quest for the album began. It wasn’t available in my area, so I traveled to Soho and found a copy. I played that album nonstop.

What struck me was the absence of self-indulgence – the music was straightforward, with blues-tinged vocals, prominent guitars, and memorable tunes. From “Rock The Nation” to “Make It Last,” the album was an unrelenting wave of energy, the essence of pure rock ‘n’ roll.

This album bridged the gap between ’70s blues rock and the ’80s rock scene led by bands like Van Halen. The production by Ted Templeman gave it a distinct, three-dimensional quality that was groundbreaking.

For me, this is the epitome of perfect hard rock. Anyone who appreciates unpretentious, straight-ahead rock should own this album. If not, they’re missing out!

JJ Burnel (The Stranglers) – The Doors’ LA Woman (1971)

My introduction to “L.A. Woman” happened during my student days in Yorkshire, enhanced by a dose of acid. From that point on, my connection to the album was unbreakable, encompassing a significant phase of my life filled with adventure.

Honestly, my obsession with “L.A. Woman” knew no bounds. I’d gift the album to people who needed to hear it. Over the years, I replaced it numerous times. Only later did I realize its bluesy essence.

Despite the trippy times, the album’s resonance remained steadfast. The songs that concluded each side – “L.A. Woman” and “Riders On The Storm” – left an indelible mark, inspiring us in The Stranglers to experiment with long, epic tracks.

Meeting Stephen Stills was monumental; we even collaborated on songs. “L.A. Woman” is permanently etched as The Doors’ magnum opus in my mind. While my spins have decreased, the album still holds a special place in my heart. DL

Scott Ian (Anthrax) – Kiss’ Alive! (1975)

If I had to pick, the greatest album for me would undoubtedly be Kiss’ “Alive!” The impact it had on my life and the path it set me on is immeasurable. Kiss fueled my desire to play guitar in a band and shaped my musical journey.

In 1975, when I was a kid, the music world was hit by the Kiss frenzy, and “Alive!” was at the center of it. I vividly remember being drawn to the songs, the look, and the overall aura. As an eleven-year-old, it was like a drug.

The connection was intense, and it still holds. Kiss not only introduced me to rock ‘n’ roll but laid the foundation for my career. I consider myself fortunate to now call Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss my friends – the very people who shaped my musical dreams. The power of “Alive!” is undeniably legendary.

Yngwie Malmsteen – Deep Purple’s Made In Japan (1972)

At the tender age of nine or ten, my older brother brought home “Made In Japan.” Already smitten by Deep Purple’s “In Rock” and “Fireball,” this album’s impact was akin to a biblical revelation.

After that, I acquired “Machine Head.” However, as a naive Swedish kid, I wondered why “Lazy” and “Space Truckin'” were suddenly shortened.

“Made In Japan” held unparalleled influence. The energy and intensity it exuded were unmatched. In a pre-internet era, a new album was a sacred experience. I wore out multiple copies of the vinyl, meticulously mimicking Blackmore’s solos.

Even today, I can’t help but exclaim, “This is an incredible album!” as I play “Made In Japan” in my car. Its colossal impact endures. DL

Matt Sorum (ex-Guns N’ Roses/Velvet Revolver) – Deep Purple’s Burn (1974)

My entry into the world of records was through my brother, and as a drummer, Deep Purple’s “Burn” was my obsession. The drumming on that album resonated deeply with me, shaping my musical journey.

Back in the nineties, joining Guns N’ Roses meant conforming to the rigid hard rock approach. Yet, artists like Dave Grohl revitalized drumming, breaking away from convention.

It was then that I recalled Ian Paice’s impact on my drumming. To emulate him and incorporate his style into my playing was a breath of fresh air. I blended his technique with mine, creating my unique drumming identity.

“Burn” will forever hold a special place in my heart. I regard Ian Paice as one of the finest drummers in rock history. His influence on me has been profound, igniting a sense of respect for drumming that continues to burn brightly.

Joe Elliott (Def Leppard) – David Bowie’s The Rise & Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars (1972)

As a young teenager, I was engrossed in the glam rock scene, from T. Rex to Slade. Despite my adoration for singles, I yearned for more, which is when I discovered the album “Ziggy Stardust.”

The music spoke to me on another level. As a kid from a rundown area, the album provided an escape, a glimpse into a different universe. The record’s concept struck a chord, and I became a lifelong Bowie devotee.

The album inspired me to be a better musician. Bowie’s work drove me to be a more creative songwriter, setting me on a path that eventually led to the formation of Def Leppard. Even now, I regard “Ziggy Stardust” as a timeless masterpiece.

Mark Tremonti (Creed/Alter Bridge) – Metallica’s Ride The Lightning (1984)

“Ride The Lightning” marked a significant turning point in my life. As a 12-year-old, I was into bands like Slayer, Iron Maiden, and Ozzy Osbourne. But when I heard Metallica’s “Fight Fire with Fire,” everything changed.

The riffs were heavy, but there was a level of complexity I hadn’t experienced before. This album opened the door to thrash metal for me. I started taking guitar lessons and attempting to play songs from the record.

Metallica’s influence on my playing and songwriting is profound. The clarity and intricacy of “Ride The Lightning” became a core element of my style. It shaped my approach to both rhythm and lead guitar, steering me towards a path of constant improvement.

To this day, I hold “Ride The Lightning” as one of the greatest albums ever, both in terms of its influence on me and its significance in the world of metal.

Corey Taylor (Slipknot/Stone Sour) – Iron Maiden’s The Number Of The Beast (1982)

Growing up, music was my sanctuary. My dad was a trucker, so I spent hours in his truck, listening to his cassette collection. That’s where I found Iron Maiden’s “The Number Of The Beast.”

The moment “Invaders” began, I was hooked. The title track blew my mind, and “Hallowed Be Thy Name” sealed the deal. The album’s dark but empowering themes resonated with me, a kid trying to find his place in the world.

Bruce Dickinson’s vocals were pure intensity. The album led me down the path of heavier music. It was like a siren’s call, and I couldn’t resist its pull. It was my gateway to discovering bands like Slayer and Mercyful Fate.

“The Number Of The Beast” will forever be the embodiment of metal for me. It’s a timeless album that ignited the fire of rebellion and fueled my passion for music that speaks to the outsider in all of us.

Mark Boardman is a British entertainment journalist and the editor of MarkMeets, a website that covers celebrity news, entertainment, and events. MarkMeets is known for providing coverage of red carpet events, movie premieres, music releases, and other showbiz-related news.

Mark Boardman has been active in the entertainment industry for many years and has interviewed numerous celebrities and public figures. He has also covered major entertainment events like award shows, film festivals, and concerts.

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