Now you may take this with a grain of salt but honestly: everyone who I ever heard making music when I was a kid.
My dad in the shower, my mom at the piano, my uncle Ted who was a jazz musician, composer and arranger.
All the fantastic musicians and singers on the thousands of records my dad had. I just got knocked out by all the music. I was a lucky guy. I went to after hour clubs, blues joints, nightclubs, concerts, every kind of venue you could think of. When I was stationed in France in '57, '58 and part of '59 I heard all the great American jazzmen and women in those unavoidably intimate cellar clubs that were so common in Paris.
What put me on the path, though, was hearing this calm, sweet voiced young woman, in a blue flowered dress, play the guitar and sing "The Damsel's Lament" I will never forget her. I still sing that song of tradgic lost love and suicide and when I do I am back in that coffee house in Milwaukee in 1959 watching her in that circle of light.