Joe Jackson

Joe Jackson started out sounding like Elvis Costello. Then he decided to sound like Louis Jordan, then Cole Porter, then any number of vaguely Latin-influenced jazz band leaders. Then I lost track, though at some point I believe he wrote a symphony. I guess the only person left to sound like was Mozart?

Joe Jackson AllMusic page

Joan Armatrading

Over the years, Joan Armatrading tried everything from pop-folkie to electro-pop-punky … and she still couldn’t buy a hit to save her life. So then she decided to screw it all and just sound like Sade.

Joan Armatrading AllMusic page

Jimi Hendrix

Often when I run into acquaintances (my real friends know better), they think it’s funny to bust out with, “Hey Joe, where you going with that gun in your hand?” It’s not.

Jimi Hendrix AllMusic page

Jerry Lee Lewis

I can forgive the “marrying the underage cousin” thing—there’s a whole range of cultural norms outside of what any one of us might consider “proper.” (Shoot … one of my great-grandmothers married her brother-in-law, while another was the illegitimate daughter of an itinerant Italian railway worker. So much for traditional family values.) The hair, on the other hand—I just can’t with the hair.

Jerry Lee Lewis AllMusic page

Jelly Roll Morton

In my next life, I want to have a cool nickname like “Jelly Roll.” And with all respect to my Polish ancestors, I would also like a smoother-sounding last name. Peanut Butter Sadusky doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.

Jelly Roll Morton AllMusic page

Jefferson Airplane/Starship

Jefferson Airplane/Starship morphed from trippy psychedelic rock in the 60s to wispy folk rock in the 70s to peppy pop rock in the 80s. Not sure it that’s progress. “We Built This City” might be the worst song in the history of popular music, ever. Plus: Winner of “how many times we can rename our band?” contest.

Jefferson Airplane AllMusic page

Jefferson Starship AllMusic page

Starship AllMusic page

Jeff Beck

Another one of those rock legend/guitar gods I feel like I should know more about, but don’t. Credit for naming one of his songs a bolero (whatever that is), because … well, “Beck’s Bolero” just sounds cool.

Jeff Beck AllMusic page