Pablo Picasso once famously said, “Good artists borrow. Great artists steal.” Apparently, just about all musicians hover somewhere in the good-to-great range, having borrowed liberally from their forebears. In some cases, however, the act of homage is just a bit more glaring than others.
Artist Billy Butcher recently decided to pay tribute to some of rock music’s one-of-a-kind originals by tinkering with the chronology of who influenced whom. The Reversed Music Icons Fandom Project features images of legends like John Lennon, Freddie Mercury, and David Bowie wearing T-shirts by the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Lady Gaga, and Nirvana, respectively. This project basically asks viewers to imagine a scenario wherein, post-Back to the Future Chuck Berry ends up sporting a shirt from Marty McFly’s band, The Pinheads.
Some of these lines of influence are spot-on (the Joy Division rip-off accusation has haunted Interpol’s entire career) while others are less so. (The xx are probably more indebted to ’90s R&B than they are to Lou Reed.) Weirdly absent from the entire proceedings: Bruce Springsteen. And it’s hard to single out Arcade Fire for its debt to The Beatles when everybody is in debt to The Beatles.
Have a look at more reverse-influence images in the slides above, and let us know of any glaring absences in the comments below.
H/t to Dangerous Minds