Some musicians are present at the birth of a new musical form, but never seem to get due credit for their part in kicking things off. This can be because their influence is removed from the genre's big breakthrough moment by a distance of many years, or it can be because other musicians in the genre became so popular that they dominated the discussion of how it came into being. True devotees will know their name, but only as a relatively minor footnote.
So, here are seven genuine pioneers - artists who were so far ahead of their time that, to many, they became lost to time.
1. The Sonics inspired punk rock
In the search for the origins of what would become punk rock, you can go a long way back; through The Stooges, The MC5, American garage rock bands and the monolithic riffing of early singles by The Kinks. The Sonics deserve their place on that list by playing uncluttered, feral rock 'n' roll with brutal intensity and howling passion (not to mention passionate howling). Their first single The Witch was released two months after You Really Got Me, and manages to take that song's monolithic simplicity even further, with a two-note riff that is both gloriously dumb and utterly vicious. Everything the Sex Pistols were later derided for being.
Their early records were recorded with scant regard for high fidelity. Famous for using just one microphone to capture their brutal drum sound, they even ripped the studio soundproofing off the walls during sessions for their second album in 1966, to get as live a sound as possible. Kurt Cobain was a huge fan, telling a US radio station: "They got the most amazing drum sound I've ever heard. Still to this day, it's still my favourite drum sound. It sounds like he's hitting harder than anyone I've ever known."
2. Youngstar inspired grime
Grime is the product of many hands, with producers seeking ever more raw beats and basslines for MCs to spit bars over. But if there's a single moment where the sound of grime first appeared, it's in the 2002 track Pulse X by Youngstar, of the crew Musical Mob. There's no rap, no Dizzee Rascal street poetry, just a 16 bar loop of distorted synth and drum machine that repeats with some variations at the end and a dislocated voice yelling "Musical Mob royal pon the map" every now and then.
As a brutally condensed electronic production it sounds tough and paranoid, full of echoey, shadowy spaces. It threw down a gauntlet to all the would-be MCs - including Dizzee - to try and fill the sound with similarly angry words. The track continues to resonate; Jme's 2015 album Integrity opens with Pulse 8, and the backing track is a Pulse X-inspired instrumental worked up by producer Mystry.
3. Ken Colyer inspired skiffle
Say the word skiffle among the people who know a thing or two about the early days of British rock 'n' roll, and one name will immediately come shooting back: Lonnie Donegan. He was the undoubted star of British music's first DIY moment, one that was directly responsible for the 1960s beat group explosion. However, in the discovery and popularisation of old American folk and blues tunes, Lonnie had one important guiding light: Ken Colyer.
Ken was a New Orleans jazz buff and trumpeter who felt the genre had become too sophisticated. Seizing a chance to hitch to New Orleans while in America with the merchant navy, he came across 'spasm' bands, who knocked out primal blues on homemade instruments. Having been arrested and deported - supposedly for playing with black musicians, a criminal offence at the time - he formed a jazz band with Chris Barber and Lonnie Donegan, and introduced a version of the music of those bands into their set as a break for the dancers. Lonnie was an admirer of the songs of Lead Belly, and reworked them in that urgent, primal style.
Ken's brother Bill even named the genre, having noted the name of Dan Burley & His Skiffle Boys, which came from descriptions of come-one, come-all parties in Mississippi, where revellers would gather around a piano to sing gospel, work and blues songs for their own entertainment. It was the puritan zeal of the Colyer brothers that helped pave the way for Lonnie's success, starting with the international hit Rock Island Line.
4. Swell Maps inspired indie rock
Sex Pistols channelled the spirit of meaty garage rock, but the post-punk bands who followed in their wake were as attracted to the chaos in their sound as the rock aggression, and a strain of post-punk bands emerged that prized rattling passion over musical perfection. For anyone trying to trace the mysterious and artfully lo-fi musical attitude of Pavement, The Fall, Sonic Youth and even early R.E.M., a band like Swell Maps is a great place to start.
Having first got together as a school band during the glam rock era, they released their clattering, lurching first single Read About Seymour in 1977 on the independent label Rather Records. The song set a sonic template for a certain strand of 1980s indie rock in the US and UK, and helped to cement the revolutionary idea that bands could just get on with making and releasing the records they wanted. Scott Kannberg of Pavement summed up their importance, telling writer Roni Sarig: "Swell Maps was a big influence on our early records ... they had these songs they f***** up somehow to make sound really dirty and low frequency, but they had these great songs underneath all this mess."
5. Jonathan Fire*Eater inspired the New York post-punk revival
New York in the late-90s was not a great place for indie rock. According to Lizzy Goodman's Meet Me in the Bathroom - a terrific oral history of the rise of the scene that birthed The Strokes, LCD Soundsystem and so on - there was only one band flying the flag for sharp guitars, literate lyrics and street poetry towards the turn of the millennium, and that was Jonathan Fire*Eater. They reintroduced the influence of The Velvet Underground to New York rock, with singer Stewart Lupton spinning compelling tales of seedy city encounters in a trembly, excitable voice.
As a sonic signpost of what was about to happen, they were perfect. Key players in what would become a hugely vibrant scene remember seeing the band and feeling transformed, with Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Daniel Kessler of Interpol both noting that this was a band with the right spirit, look and songs. Future Dirty Pretty Things guitarist Anthony Rossomando put it best, saying: "There was nothing going on and then there was Jonathan Fire*Eater. That really was the band."
6. Coke La Rock inspired hip hop
The act of rapping may have many fathers, but only one MC can lay claim to being the first to rock a mic, and that MC is Coke La Rock. A close friend of DJ Kool Herc, whose early 70s block parties are commonly understood to be the beginning of what would become hip hop, Coke was originally employed as a hype man, shouting out to friends in the room and keeping the party going with encouraging slogans. Herc was developing the concept of looping key sections of records using two turntables, and Coke would encourage the crowd to go nuts with humourous wordplay, like, "You rock and you don't stop," and, "Hotel, motel, you don't tell, we won't tell."
It was a winning formula - the DJ and the MC - that set the template for everyone from Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five to Run-D.M.C., Eric B. & Rakim and beyond. Looking back in 2008, Coke told New York magazine: "At first I would just call out names. Then I pretended dudes had double-parked cars; that was to impress the girls. Truthfully, I wasn't there to rap, I was just playing around."
7. Yellow Magic Orchestra inspired electropop
Thanks to some exceptional work by Kraftwerk in the fields of both music and public image, Yellow Magic Orchestra (often referred to simply as YMO) don't quite get the props they deserve as innovators of electronic pop, and an inspiration for what would become both the electro and hip hop scenes in New York. Very much a hybrid band, they played funky, disco-inspired electronic music with some Japanese melodic touches. They put acoustic drums and electric bass alongside synths and programmed sounds using what was then cutting-edge technology - sequencers, samplers and drum machines (including Roland's 808, soon to dominate hip hop) and working in sounds from computer games too.
This made them huge in Japan, and also popular with both the burgeoning hip hop scene in New York and the electropop acts in the UK, such as Duran Duran and Gary Numan. In 1980 YMO performed Computer Games on the US funk and disco show Soul Train, and the meeting of cultures was head-spinning, in a very literal sense. Drummer and singer Yukihiro Takahashi told the Guardian: "They were breakdancing and bodypopping. We'd never seen anything like it."
In a bizarre footnote, further underlining how far their musical message could travel, they also wrote the song Behind the Mask, which was covered by Eric Clapton. That cover was later sampled by Goldie Lookin' Chain.