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Famous Musicians from Indianapolis

Indianapolis has always been home to a variety of musical talents. From indie punk to soul to especially jazz, the city is either home to, the birthplace of, or the stomping grounds of many talented artists. Here are just a few of them.

Billy Henderson: If you’re a Spinners fan, you know who Billy Henderson was. The soul group was created in 1954 by four high school friends. Famous for songs like “I’ll Be Around” and “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love,” the Spinners earned nominations for six Grammy Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Sadly, Henderson himself passed away in 2007 due to complications from diabetes.

Scrapper Blackwell: American Blues legend Scrapper Blackwell was known for his soulful vocals and guitar-playing skills. Some of his most famous works included “How Long, How Long Blues,” “Kokomo Blues” (which was the original song that “Sweet Home Chicago” was remade from), “Mean Mistreater Mama,” and Prison Bound Blues.” Blackwell was also half of a guitar-piano duo with pianist Leroy Carr.

Babyface: Kenneth Brian Edmonds, otherwise known as Babyface, may be one of the most famous musicians from Indianapolis. Not only is he an R&B and pop singer, he’s also a film producer, entrepreneur, and record producer. Babyface is perhaps best known, however, as a songwriter, crafting lyrics for Paula Abdul, Bobby Brown, Whitney Houston, and many other performers.

J. J. Johnson: Best known as a jazz trombonist, Johnson (also known as Jay Jay) was also a composer and music arranger. One of the first trombonists to play bebop music, Johnson’s swing music still plays an influential role on modern jazz music today.

Darrell Clanton: A country singer from Indianapolis, Clanton’s real name is Darrell Puckett. (Doesn’t that sound more country-ish?) Clanton had three hit Billboard records in the 1980s, including “Lonesome 7-7203.” Famous for being boycotted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving for his song, “I Forgot That I Don’t Live Here Anymore,” Clanton’s last album came out in 2005.

Freddie Hubbard: A jazz trumpeter famous for playing hard bebop and post-bop styles in the 1960s, Freddie Hubbard remains a major influence in modern jazz music. Hubbard was a hit, both on his own as well as with other musicians. His own albums, such as Ready for Freddie, continue to be quite successful as well as albums he made with other artists, such as Eric Dolphy, Oliver Nelson, and Herbie Hancock. He also played with John Coltrane during his final recording session.