St. Louis is a cultural mecca, so it’s no surprise that the city has incubated an abundance of incredible musicians. Unlike cities where one type of music dominates (country in Nashville, for example) we have a diverse history of talent in all genres. Among the greatest names in the pantheon of St. Louis music, you have to include this trio.
If St. Louis had only ever produced one musician and that musician was Miles Davis, that would be more than enough. Davis’ impact on 20th-century music is incalculable. From the modal innovations of “Kind of Blue” to the fusion masterpiece “In a Silent Way,” Davis possessed restless creative energy that found him constantly seeking new musical paths. “Sometimes you have to play for a long time to be able to play like yourself,” he once said. We would add that you could play forever and still never be able to play like Miles.
No single person can claim to have invented rock ‘n’ roll, but Chuck Berry had more of an influence on its development than almost anyone else. After honing his craft at local country and R&B bars, Berry recorded “Maybellene” for Chess Records in 1955. The rest, as they say, is history. From his songs to his stage presence, Berry set the template for countless acts to follow, including four lads from Liverpool who had pretty good careers of their own.
Cicero’s Basement Bar, like CBGB, is one of the few clubs that served as an incubator for an entire genre. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Cicero’s was home to a group of musicians who sought to strip country music of its modern sheen and return to something rootsier. Of all the bands this movement created, Uncle Tupelo had the biggest impact. Their album “No Depression” codified the genre. Two of their members, Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar, would go on to found Wilco and Sun Volt, respectively. Not a bad legacy for a basement bar.