Musical Influences – Performers
Joe Pass — Simply unparalleled in his ability to play beautiful, solo arrangements. He was, of course, a great accompanist (his work with Ella Fitzgerald!) and soloist in a group setting. But I am influenced by his virtuoso solo approach.
Art Tatum — I wish I could play the guitar like Mr. Tatum played piano. He is easily the best American pianist ever. Also the best jazz pianist ever. The only reason I won’t say the best pianist ever is that we have no recordings of Beethoven or Liszt. I spend days listening to nothing other than Tatum & Beethoven.
Yngwie Malmsteen — Shred master of the electric guitar. I only recommend his instrumental work. But that is more than enough to have influneced me to hours, days and years of woodshedding!
There are also: Classical guitar masters Andres Segovia & Eliot Fisk, Classical pianists Murray Perahia & Vladimir Horowitz, Jazz piano masters Gershwin & Ellington. And also rock/pop guitarists Jeff Beck & Edward Van Halen. I admire them all for their amazing & gorgeous playing and find in their performances endless sources of inspiration & insight into how to play music beautifully.
My literary influences are a rather diverse lot. Ayn Rand, whose work I love and admire would seem, to those who know me, an obvious first choice. Although I certainly include her in this list, I must quickly add that I simply don’t write much like she did. At times, I am similar in thematic and heroic outlook but I simply haven’t written anything that comes close to her level of virtuosity. Also to be included in this immediate list of authors that I admire and sometimes (unsuccessfully try to) emulate would be Victor Hugo and Arthur C. Clarke. Hugo’s well-known works are amazing, his lesser known works are just as good. If you haven’t already read them, I recommend Ninety-Three, Hans of Iceland and Bug-Jargal. Clarke is well-known for his outstanding science fiction. The novel 2001: A Space Odyssey also has three follow-ups that are quite breathtaking in scope and vision (2010, 2061 & 3001).
A much more appropriate list contains William Sydney Porter (a.k.a. O. Henry), Douglas Adams, and James Thurber. All very comedic writers. Porter is the master of the charming short story with a twist or surprise ending. My favorite Thurber is his hilarious essay material. Adams couldn’t seem to finish a story to save his life but it is always a thoroughly wild and entertaining ride. For those unaware, Adams is the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy Series and the Dirk Gently detective stories. There is also Terry Pratchett, fantasy/comedy writer of the hysterical DiscWorld series which I find very entertaining.
I should also mention Shakespeare (wonderful stories and dialogue), Dostoevsky (wonderful characters), Samuel Clemens (wonderful stories and characters) and Ben Bova (excellent sci-fi).