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The Musical Greats of Seattle

December 4, 2013
Seattle Skyline, Space Needle upfront (wiki)

Seattle, Washington, known as the City of Goodwill and also as Emerald City, is known for coffee, rainy weather, the Space Needle, and some great musical legends. While it may not be along the lines of New York or Hollywood in terms of being a magnet for entertainers, Seattle’s high quality of life, strong arts culture, and much educated populace are enough reasons for the city to generate more talent than anywhere else.

Here are some of the famous artists, musicians, and bands that came from Seattle or at launched their careers while living in Seattle.

1. Jimi Hendrix

Hendrix had a short-lived career, spanning seven years. In all of those seven years, the last three years catapulted and cemented his stature as the “Black Elvis”. These last three years of superstardom were and still are considered among the most influential in the history of pop music.

Jimi Hendrix was born and bred in Seattle. In fact, his first ever gig was in the basement of Temple De Hirsch, a synagogue in Seattle. His ticket to fame was touring with the Isley Brothers and going to London, where he attained worldwide fame as a singer, songwriter, and guitar phenomenon.

He died a premature death due to the fatal combination of alcohol and sleeping pills. He was only 27 years young then.

2. Ray Charles

Technically, Ray Charles isn’t a native of Seattle. He was born in Albany, Georgia on September 23, 1930, lived as a blind, orphaned young boy in Tampa, Florida, and later on moved to Seattle to get as far away as he could from where he currently lived.

He stayed briefly in Seattle, but it was noted that it served as the launch pad of his career. This was where he cut his first record and developed the genre-bending musical style that made him the international star that he was.

ray charles
Ray Charles, 2003

3. Quincy Jones

Quincy is a record producer, composer, arranger, conductor, film and TV producer, and musician rolled into one. His career spans six decades and his resiliency in the entertainment industry is proven by his record 79 Grammy award nominations. Of these, he has won 27 awards, including the prestigious Grammy Legend Award in 1991. He has worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry including Celine Dion, Frank Sinatra, and Michael Jackson. Incidentally, Quincy Jones was a good friend of Ray Charles, and in fact, owed his musical beginnings to the latter.

4. Nirvana and Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain grew up in the logging town of Aberdeen. In the late 80s, he formed the band Nirvana together with his fellow Aberdeener, Krist Noveselic. Nirvana was famous for grunge music, and it was in the early 90s, through the said genre, that Seattle shot to a type of cultural prominence it has never experienced before.

Kurt’s strong vocal prowess, uncanny command of melody, and adolescent rage combined to form hits such as “Smells like Teen Spirit”. Sadly, Kurt’s life was cut short when he took his own life at the age of 27, after struggling with depression, stomach pain, and heroin abuse.

5. Kenny G

Known as the titan of smooth jazz, Kenneth Bruce Gorelick was born in Seattle, Washington on June 5, 1956. He attended Franklin High School and University of Washington. After graduating from college, he became a successful jazz instrumentalist and even played along with Barry White while on tour. Eventually, he recorded his own work, which paved the way for his multi-platinum success. Over the years, he has sold over 70 million records and he continues to be a popular jazz instrumentalist to this day.

Some of other famous bands/musicians (living and otherwise) who hail from Seattle are:

Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam
Macklemore
Alice in Chains
Bing Crosby
Dave Matthews
Soundgarden

All these names are proof that Seattle has, indeed, a great musical history and that it has produced more talent per capita than any other city in the United States.

cobain
Kurt Cobain, 1993
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  1. Wow! The celebrities you mentioned here are all my favorite singers, musicians and performers on stage. I miss them. JH is already dead. KR’s songs I do love listening them or even singing them. RC, my fave musician, composer, arranger.

  2. And the reason that there are lots of musicians from the place is because of their rainy weather. an outdoor sport won’t do for them.

  3. my husband and I love jimi hendrix. not that i am that same age with my husband but i grew up with people around me who loves this kind of music! nice to know the other namestoo

  4. Wow. I never knew Seattle had a rich music history. Kurt Cobain was my idol before. I loved his music. *sigh* What a waste. He should just gotten professional help if he had problems. Well, great post by the way! 🙂

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