7 Unexpected Musical Influences of Hard Rock + Heavy Metal Icons

How R.E.M., Pink Floyd, and the Grateful Dead impacted Metallica, NIN, Black Flag + more.

Be it in the form of unlikely duets (Elton John and Axl Rose at the Freddie Mercury Tribute concert), off-the-wall songwriting collaborations (Kiss and Lou Reed on Music From “The Elder”), or even political activism (Frank Zappa, Dee Snider, and John Denver vs. the PMRC), rock-and-roll has always made for some strange bedfellows.

Some genuinely jolting surprises can arise, too, when a performer who’s known for a very specific type of music reveals that he’s been shaped by artists from a markedly different genre.

That holds true in country (Garth Brooks is a lifelong Kiss Army member), it holds true in hip-hop (Lil Wayne says Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” changed his life), and it’s absolutely the case in hard rock and heavy metal, as well.

What follows are examples of seven loud, fast, and dark musical giants who have credited seemingly unrelated or even oppositional acts with helping to shine a light on the paths they’ve taken to creative success.

Truly, it takes all kinds.

7. Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails

Unexpected Influence: Pink Floyd

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