By Decent to the Current Owner from John Hammond, Sr.
John Hammond remains one of the most important and prolific music producers of the 20th century. The list of musicians he worked with would fill any music library's shelves. From the swinging big band sound of Benny Goodman, Count Basie and Billie Holiday to the poetic and soulful Rock 'n' Roll recordings of Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, Hammond was able to capture a given zeitgeist in sound. His credits reflect his ability to not only record with the best, but also his ability to see what would be popular - the foresight to predict classics.
Through the 1930s and 1940s Hammond became aware of the talent of Jazz musicians and the popularity of their sound. He helped to not only record their songs and bring them to the radio market that was eagerly devouring records, but he also took political steps to show that musical skill was musical skill, regardless of color. Through his writing in music publications, his work hosting radio programs and his investment in live jazz clubs and concerts, he helped to break down the color barrier, and help bring jazz to a national audience.
In the 1950s and 1960s he would look Downtown to Greenwich Village where the Folk and Rock scenes were getting kicked off. There he would meet such artists as Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan and work with them and their political messages.
More than the names and records he would ultimately organize, his greatest achievement perhaps is the creation of a true American sound. From the early days of popular Jazz to the rise of Rock, Hammond was right in the middle of the scene helping to promote new artists and record their music. His fingerprints remain indelible on the history of music.