Jan 232014

Tymon Dogg (violin), Joe Strummer and The 101'ers.

Tymon Dogg (violin), Joe Strummer and The 101’ers.

Did anyone outside the London squatter and tube station busking scene of the 1970s know who Tymon Dogg was before he appeared as guest bandleader on The Clash’s Sandinista, where he sings and fiddles his way through one of the 3-album set’s most-challenging long songs? The vibrato on Dogg’s voice makes Feargal Sharkey’s voice sound straighter than John Wayne.

Listening to the previously unknown Dogg take his best shot on a major-label release this morning I started thinking about other unknown or cult artists who were dragged into the spotlight on a major artist’s record. The Clash made a habit of this practice in the latter half of their career. I thought of the English folk singer, Roy Harper, who no one in America (at least) had ever heard of prior to getting called in to sing lead on Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar.” Was he well known in England when he got the call (and before Led Zeppelin name-checked him)? At the risk of exposing myself as grossly ignorant, has anyone heard Roy Harper sing beside the moment the Floyd invited him to shine on like a crazy diamond?

Surely there are many other cult and unknown artists who’ve gotten their big chance in the spotlight? Who stands out for you? Are there interesting circumstances behind this person’s sudden appearance on the big stage? Did anyone grab that moment and explode onto the scene as a star in his or her own right?


  3 Responses to “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”

  1. I’ll think on your question but do have two comments.

    I actually saw Tymon Dogg live probably 25 years ago when he opened for John Doe at McCabes in LA. I don’t recall much about him beyond that he was interesting enough – above the median for opening acts which I always figure is all you can hope for – but not worth investigating further. I do recall enjoying him more than John Doe. (And btw, do you figure he is any relation to Snoop?)

    I have certainly heard Roy Harper and have several of his albums on the shelf. My two favorites are When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease and One Of Those Days In England (bullingamingvase) (those were the US titles; I’m pretty sure they had different titles in the UK). Both title tracks were played fairly often on WMMR back in the mid-’70s when it came out. The latter was close to 20 minutes long which might explain its popularity with DJs.

    He has recently received some unfavorable publicity as he has been charged with some pedophilia related crimes that date from the 1970s.

  2. You can never say he *exploded* as a star but does Billy Preston fit into your parameters enough?

    He had an interesting early career as a session musician none of which I was aware of and won’t type in here (go to wikipedia), then came the Beatles and then a solo career with 2 huge hits in “Will It Go ‘Round In Circles” and “Nothing From Nothing”.

  3. I think you’re right, Al. I hadn’t considered him.

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