Old Blighty. We may no longer have an empire but we still like to think we reign supreme when it comes to music. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Smiths…em, Viva Brother – we gave them all to the world.
We’re also where bands come to cut their teeth. Small enough to conquer but big enough to matter, our seal of approval has launched many a band’s career.
And whether it’s lingering post-colonial umbrage or just the fact we speak the same language, it seems to be US acts we give the biggest helping hand to. Whilst the vast American Plains often prove unassailable for many new bands, hype, hysteria and headline slots are all within reach on these shores.
Stereotypically more outward looking than insular America, UK music fans have a reputation of being as likely to know what’s hot on the streets of L.A and New York as they are of Brighton or Manchester. And whilst the US market is flooded by a multitude of bands in a multitude of genres, a dedicated following here can set an act apart from the chaff of their contemporaries and grant them a seat on the rock ‘n’ roll express.
Here’s five we helped propel to stardom.
They have perhaps not yet achieved world domination but they are definitely well on their deserved way. He may sing like a demented Minnesotan but Jordan Gatesmith’s voice definitely got people listening and industry hearts fluttering last year. Signed to Rough Trade on the strength of their This One’s Different EP, their brooding form of blitzkrieg indie provided welcome relief to a recession hit Britain. Add in the rumour that their drummer was Prince’s son and we were sold.
This one isn’t really surprising, they might as well have been British the way they wear their influences. We were always going to adore the love child of The Smiths and The Fall whilst America shrugged.
3) The Black Keys
These lo-fi masters always seem to have been with us. Music so simple you could call it a lullaby yet packing the punch of heavyweight boxer. Though not all our own doing, this renowned underground act significantly stuck their head above the parapet on these shores. Three sold out shows at the Alexandria Palace…now they sell out Madison Square Gardens in 15 minutes.
2) The White Stripes
Jack’s blazing riffs and Meg’s stoic drums came kicking into the British consciousness on the back of their self-titled debut effort and De Stijl before White Blood Cells opened them up to much wider public acclaim. Half a world away from the Delta and the music that influenced their explosive sound, it found a home in the country that had reinterpreted and then resold so much of the blues in the 60s.
1) Jimi Hendrix
The man himself. Hendrix was the forerunner and future template for UK success by American bands. Lauded over by British guitar players, he blew away viewers with his appearance on Ready Steady Go!. Through extensive touring he developed into the now immortalised iconic fret shredder with the colossus stage presence on these shores. We knew first and then the rest of the world caught up.