Stephen Caleb Wilmans is a music producer from North Carolina and guest contributor. In the article below, Stephen Wilmans discusses the famous musicians behind the scenes, and how these session musicians became iconic stars over time.
A session musician is a professional performer who is hired to play on recordings, performances, or compositions. Session musicians are usually not part of the band or artist they are performing with, and they are not usually credited on the recordings. However, Stephen Caleb Wilmans says that every once in a while, a session musician manages to break away from the pack and establish themselves as a famous performer in their own right.
From Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page to Tupac Shakur and Sia, some of the largest names in the music industry were once hidden behind the scenes, providing vocals, production, and instrumentation without public knowledge. Stephen Wilmans explores some of their stories and discovers how they managed to break out on their own.
Jimi Hendrix Started His Career as a Session Musician for the Isley Brothers
Today, Jimi Hendrix is widely remembered as one of the greatest guitarists and rock stars of all time. From his soulful voice to his on-stage antics, Hendrix was the total package and a true pioneer in his craft explains Stephen Caleb Wilmans. What many fans don’t know, however, is that Hendrix actually got his start as a session musician, playing on tracks for artists like the Isley Brothers, Little Richard, and Don Covay.
If you listen to the Isley Brother’s 1964 single, “Testify (Parts 1 and 2)”, you can hear Hendrix’s guitar work on the record. Hendrix can also be heard on Little Richard’s hit song, “I Don’t Know What You’ve Got (But It’s Got Me)”, which was released in 1965. Hendrix’s work as a session musician gave him the opportunity to hone his craft and develop his signature sound.
Jimmy Page Has a Long List of Session Credits
Stephen Caleb Wilmans explains that prior to becoming the greatest guitarist of all time and one of the leading figures of Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page worked as a session musician for a handful of smaller groups that have since faded into history says Stephen Wilmans. However, he does a few famous outings, such as on The Rolling Stone’s 1964 song “Heart of Stone” and Tom Jones’s “It’s Not Unusual”, released the following year.
Interestingly, Page continued to take session work even after finding international success with Led Zeppelin. His last outing as a session musician was in 1998 with Puff Daddy on “Come with Me”. Stephen Caleb Wilmans notes that his experience prior to finding individual success helped him make connections in the industry that would later prove invaluable when he formed Led Zeppelin with Robert Plant.
Tupac Shakur Worked with Digital Underground
Before he was one of the most successful and controversial rappers of all time, Tupac Shakur was a backup dancer and rapper for Digital Underground. He first gained notoriety for his work on the group’s 1991 album, “This is an EP Release”. Stephen Caleb Wilmans says that he can be heard on the tracks “Same Song” and “This is an EP Release”.
Shakur’s work with the Digital Underground helped him launch his solo career, which would eventually lead to him becoming one of the most successful and iconic rappers of all time. Even after his untimely death in 1996, Shakur’s legacy has lived on, with his music continuing to influence the hip-hop genre.
Sia Was a Backing Vocalist for Jamiroquai
Sia is a world-renowned singer and songwriter, but before she found individual success, she was a backing vocalist for the British band, Jamiroquai. She can be heard on the band’s 1999 album, “Synkronized”, on the tracks “Canned Heat” and “Destitute Illusions”. Stephen Caleb Wilmans explains that Sia’s work with Jamiroquai helped her gain exposure in the music industry and led to her finding success as a solo artist.
She has released nine studio albums, with her most recent, Music – Songs from and Inspired by the Motion Picture, coming out in 2021. In addition to her work as a solo artist, Sia has also written hits for some of the biggest names in the music industry, including Rihanna, Beyoncé, and Katy Perry.
Although there’s a conception that musical artists must be lucky to find success in the music industry, the stories of Hendrix, Page, Shakur, and Sia show that hard work and dedication can pay off. These artists all started out as session musicians, but through their talent and perseverance, they were able to find individual success and become some of the most famous musicians in the world.