Brett Alan wrote:
As for the jam band concept, it didn't start with the Dead at all - Diddley started that in the 50's. He'd close shows, do part of one song and then jam for twenty minutes, riffing on his guitar off-the-cuff. It's no surprise that the first group later recognized AS a jam band, which just beat the Dead to it in SF, was Quicksilver Messenger Service and the songs they turned into lengthy jams were Diddley songs. So while the Dead are the most renown for this, they weren't first and they can't get credit for something others did before them.
I don't agree with that at all. I don't think influence works that way.
No one does anything entirely new. Every artist has their influences. So of course the Dead didn't invent the jam band thing out of whole cloth. But the fact is that they perfected it and most importantly they inspired the entire scene. Phish didn't form because of Quicksilver Messenger Service; they formed out of a scene where the Dead was the be-all and end-all. (I know--I went to high school with the keyboard player.) And that's probably true of just about every band on the scene. The nature of the shows, the way the sets are put together, the way the fans behave, are all directly inspired by the Dead. So I think they absolutely should get credit for that, even if everything the Dead did was directly inspired by QMS (which of course would be an exaggeration anyway).
I'm certainly not saying to put them above, say, Springsteen, but when I compare them to, say, Michael Jackson, I think they come out much higher on the criteria. (And I'm a MUCH, MUCH bigger fan of Jackson.) As I said, the lower part of the top ten sounds about right for them.
Inspired by is not influence.
Influence stems from its source. People always want to see artists given credit for being innovative, creating something new, even when what they do might not actually be all that impressive, someone will want to see it credited just because it was new. What proper attribution of influence does is credit those innovations by determining how wide that innovation then spread and how popular it became. So someone coming up with something that turns out to be insigificant because no one else does it after them, aren't going to get anything for it here, but someone, like Diddley, who totally changed the standard approach to rock concerts where prior to him you essentially just re-created your records on stage, and instead turned them into extended jams that showed off his skills, worked the crowd into a frenzy and greatly altered the entire feel of a rock concert, HAS to be fully credited for it, especially when so many others took from it. Not just the so-called "jam band" acts like QMS, the Dead and Phish, but any artist who greatly extends and expands their songs on stage. To do anything less than credit the guy it began with, and instead give credit to someone else because they're more commonly referred to by later artists who are oftentimes just as ignorant as rock history as the guy browsing the racks at some chain music store is, would be historically inaccurate and a disservice to the true innovators, whoever they are.
But just so it's clear, the Dead DO get influence credit for it, in what is called secondary influence, meaning they take something that somebody else created, in this case Diddley, and they brought it to another level of popularity. But secondary influence is not worth as much as primary influence, which is the creation of something new itself. So the Dead get lots of secondary influence for the jam-band scene but not the majority of it, and since that is one of their resume's hallmarks then obviously it costs them a little compared to people's impression of them.