Somewhere in the 90’s a friend introduced me to a Bob Dylan collector living some 35 miles from the Rock Hall. I am honoring this man’s anonymity now, so forgive me, and I was going to see John Hammond’s son, the great blues musician. After meeting the collector, i vowed to give him some momento of the Hammond concert as I am sure he would enjoy having something from Hammond’s son. In all honesty, I don’t think he knew who Hammond was. So, I pressed on anyway.
Mr. and Mrs. John Hammond greeted the folks at his intermission and signed cds, postcards and the trrappings of the rock and roll industry for fans such as me. I had him write out a statement on the postcard and sign it for my new collector friend. Then, I gave it to him. The collector, being an astute man, had looked up Dylan’s association with Hammond and welcomed the small bit of rock trivia when i gave it to him the next time.
This is just a long way of saying that John Hammond Sr.’s influence on rock, on Dylan particularly, was always there, always a part of Dylan, (he has been with Columbia since the 60’s…and even though they practically dismissed him during the 80’s… when Time Out of Mind came out, they still had him in a cave, it became undeniable that fans were still clamoring for his records. they finally revitalized his catalog and then did what all commercial industrial giants do, they issued greatest hits and bootlegs and live recordings until they realized that his new stuff was as vital as ever). Hammond was simply the best at finding and signing new talent.
Hammond was and is on a higher plane than Hova, but a comparison of them is moot, as the recording industry, the music has all changed so much. Jay Z is wealthier, has a bigger influence and Hammond’s work, as mentioned in the anecdote above, was behind the scenes, not making the scenes.