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FUV Essentials

So many variables determine what makes an artist or band “essential” — longevity, impact, influence, history. On-air and online, we celebrate the musicians who have shaped our cultural soundtrack for the past fifty years. Let’s love these FUV Essential artists while they’re here, and honor those who have departed too soon.

Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson made it okay to be a freak, not just in country music but in life: His fans include as many blue-haired ladies as bearded hipsters as rural Republicans. And for that, for his songs, for his sweet and shaky voice, and for his rebel soul, Willie Nelson is an FUV Essentials artist.

Joe Jackson

In his 1999 autobiography, A Cure For Gravity, Joe Jackson wrote: "As I reflect on my musical apprenticeship, I can't say where the apprenticeship ended, or if it even has yet. That's okay. It's actually comforting to think that I'll always be traveling and may never arrive. Because if you ever "arrived," wouldn't it be all over?" Jackson's lifelong quest, and his elasticity and genius as a composer, songwriter and performer, is why he's an FUV Essentials artist.


Blondie, this week's FUV Essentials, will always be downtown ambassadors from those halcyon nights of the Seventies, when Manhattan glittered with a gritty Lower East Side panache. Yet as rock 'n' roll survivors of those fertile years of rock 'n' roll, they've also never abandoned what made them great in the first place: a visionary embrace of the future.

Tom Petty

It's hard believe that Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' third album, Damn the Torpedoes, turned 40 in 2019. Over a formidable four-decade juggernaut of brilliant songwriting, the late Petty was one of the America's most beloved rock musicians. We first celebrated him as an FUV Essentials artist in 2017, before his passing, and we're doing it again.


If a rock band were a country's most recognized export, it's fair to say that U2 might be Ireland's most vaunted guitar-waving gift to the globe. As the band marks the 30th anniversary of the release of The Joshua Tree, they are this week's FUV Essentials.

Chuck Berry

"If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry." John Lennon read those words from a cue card on "The Mike Douglas Show" in 1972 when he introduced his idol. Berry's songs trained you to expect the unexpected, no matter how familiar the package; his prerogative has always been theft, even from himself. His enduring legacy is that everyone stole from him in turn. The enduring charm of the man is that he did it with a wink and singularity that literally changed the world — and it's why Chuck Berry is an FUV Essentials artist.