Music: My musical inspiration

From The Rolling Stones to Bach, adland's creatives reflect on the soundtrack to their lives.

DAVE TROTT - creative director, CST

When I was a teenager, I liked The Rolling Stones.

My mum wanted to get me a record for my birthday.

So she went to the local record shop and said: "Can I have the latest one by that bloke with the big lips: Jack Migger."

In my part of London all the mods went to the Ilford Palais on Sundays.

We never went on Saturday because that was "over-21s night".

Which to us just meant old farts.

But Sunday night was just the best music from the States.

And that meant Motown mainly.

The other place for great music was pirate radio.

One DJ would introduce a track with: "Here's a real finger-popping, tail-wagging, foot-stomping, thigh-slapping record."

Years later, I got him to do my first ad: "Lip-smacking-thirst- quenching-ace-tasting-motivating-good-buzzing-cool-talking-high-walking- fast-living-ever-giving-cool-fizzing-Pepsi."

The main thing is to listen to absolutely EVERYTHING.

Don't judge the music by the person who made it.

We used what sounded like the intro to Still Dre on the ads for The Independent for years.

Nobody spotted it.

At the agency we have a site on the main server where everyone lists his or her ten favourite tracks.

One year, at Christmas, we took everyone's top track and put it on a CD called Now That's What I Call Chick Smith Trott.

It's still one of my favourite CDs.

Music is a great way to get people to take your message off the TV and carry it around with them, playing in their heads.

And it's free media.

SIMON LEARMAN - joint executive creative director, McCann London

I guess the 3,564 songs in my iTunes library do describe some kind of musical journey.

My earliest memories are of John Barry's swirling Bond scores, and Ennio Morricone's operatic themes for Spaghetti Westerns.

So Bohemian Rhapsody being my first purchase is hardly surprising. Then the Sex Pistols sang Pretty Vacant on Top Of The Pops and my focus shifted. They were big, brash and surprisingly well crafted. Behind the bravado, the Pistols were a very tight outfit at the top of their game.

I loved the irreverence and menace of punk. I used to listen to John Peel until the early hours on my Binatone clock radio, carefully writing down the names of songs I liked. My favourites were from The Clash, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Buzzcocks, Joy Division, The Stranglers and The Dead Kennedys. They were loud and angry - they had a point of view.

They were all amazing live, too. (Although, fumbling around on the floor of Leeds University refectory for my specs during a Clash concert wasn't my finest hour of rebellion.)

Being attracted to disruptive music means I was probably destined for a career in advertising. Currently, I really like Radiohead, Muse and the Chili Peppers. They echo some of the madness of my former punk heroes. I still yearn for musical madness. That's why you'll find me in the moshpit at Siouxsie gigs, elbowing the feral teenagers out of the way. And I've taken up the guitar too, which is mad, the way I play it.

But, if I'm honest, I find more danger in jazz these days. Guys such as Charlie Mingus, Thelonious Monk and Miles Davies were the original punks.

EWAN PATERSON - executive creative director, CHI & Partners

I wish I could claim that my first musical memory was something really cool such as watching Jimi Hendrix at the Isle of Wight Festival, as a five-year-old with my hippy parents. But, alas, I think it's "da da daaa da da da da daa da daaa da da da da ..." aka the Match Of The Day theme. Barry Stoller's tune, which still graces our screens, is my earliest musical love affair. It had me running to the front room to watch the footie with my very un-hippy parents.

My first album? Well, it was The Beatles' first album, Please Please Me (bought some years after it was released, I hasten to add). I played it every day for about a year until I got my second album (David Bowie's Hunky Dory). I can still name all the tracks in the correct order. And I can sing every word.

My first single? Pretty Vacant by the Sex Pistols. That's a lie, that was my 17th. The first was Ballroom Blitz by The Sweet. A smaller milestone in the history of music. My first concert, not counting the ones put on by the music teacher at Christmas, was The Undertones at Wolverhampton Civic Hall. Rum and coke in under-aged hand, I watched them kick-off with Teenage Kicks. And the first time I realised that music could transform images was at the pictures, watching Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen accompanied by Carl Orff's Gassenhauer in Terrence Malick's film Badlands.

Has all this influenced my choice of music in ads? Well, I've used Orff's Gassenhauer in a Volkswagen Golf ad. Nearly used Teenage Kicks twice. And have continually failed to persuade any client to use Ballroom Blitz.

JAMES HILTON - chief creative officer, AKQA London

Music and me go way back, so I'm told. When I was one, according to my mum, I used to bounce up and down in time to Bob Dylan. I can't remember that, but I do remember the title music for Hong Kong Phooey. Says it all, really. After that: Bohemian Rhapsody; Come On Eileen; Video Killed The Radio Star; Mrs Robinson ...

Mum and films - they've had the greatest influence on my tastes.

Mum often played classical music around the house, which synced with the orchestrations I heard in my favourite films at the time: Star Wars and The Omen. So it's no surprise that the first album I bought was John Williams with the London Symphonic Orchestra performing Star Wars. Later, Mum bought me Gustav Holst's The Planets, so I could understand Williams' inspiration. Those early lessons in creative evolution have stayed with me. There are too many composers, musicians and bands to list, but all have, in some way, added to me and none more so than The Cure. I snogged my first girlfriend, got dumped, opened my exam results, drove my first car, been happier than ever and lower than imaginable, all with The Cure supplying the soundtrack. So I'd like to say thanks: to mum for educating me, to my sister for her hand-me-down Japan records, and to Robert Smith, for a lifetime of impossibly glorious music.

Thank you and goodnight.

PAUL SILBURN - creative partner, Saatchi & Saatchi

The first record I played was an Engelbert Humperdinck B-side called Ten Guitars. It belonged to my parents. Typically, I wanted to be alternative and the only way then was to flip the record over when they left the room.

One Christmas, I asked my nan for The Doors' LA Woman. I'm unsure of the year, but it was after Jim Morrison died. That was my first album. I loved the thought of nan asking for it in the record shop.

I still love David Bowie's Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust albums, but I got a bit bored with him, as I tend to do with most artists once they become really popular. The exceptions are Neil Young, who can do no wrong, and Steely Dan, because their music has continuously evolved.

Retrospectively, I discovered Nick Drake, and Van Morrison's Astral Weeks. It's still one of my top three albums.

In my teens, during the punk era, I DJ'd in the cellar of a pub. I was an arse and only played what I liked and put on the Punky Reggae Party. The regulars were expecting disco and hated what I was playing, but word got out and a new crowd started coming. Favourites then were Wire, Television, Jonathan Richman, Tapper Zukie and Culture.

During the 80s and 90s, the only artists I got into and have stayed into are Paul Weller and Radiohead. My next big loves were Alpha (who I discovered via Massive Attack). I play Stargazing constantly, and Mogwai.

I like Bombay Bicycle Club and Speech Debelle, especially the performances they give on the "watchlistentell" YouTube channel.

ELSPETH LYNN - executive creative director, Profero

The Beatles. The Bay City Rollers. Dusty Springfield. The Seekers. The Black Watch Pipe Band. Kenneth McKellar. The Sound of Music. Bach. Barry White. Led Zeppelin. The Police. Duran Duran. Annie Lennox. The Cure. The Smiths. Edith Piaf. Frank Sinatra. Ennio Morricone. Indigo Girls. Keith Jarrett. Chet Baker. Charlie Parker. The Chemical Brothers. Jay-Z.

These may seem like a disparate group but there are two common threads. The first: this collection of music has character, a point of view. It has something to say. An idea. It is distinct.

Just as I dislike it when people speak in "blah, blah, blah", I also dislike music that does the same - house music, elevator music, most pop music, some classical music.

The second: this music, the music that I listened to as a child/teenager/during those turning points in my life, is the music that sticks. It emotionally pokes me. It's the music that, when I hear it out of the blue, makes me pause, makes me feel something and I am forced to think back to that time it was in my life, whether I want to or not. Though my musical influences weren't always respected, popular or cutting edge, they always have a personality. So, this preference dictates not only the music in my personal life, but also the music I prefer in ads, Honda "grrrr" and Sony "balls" being two stellar examples. Both distinct. Both full of character. If it has personality, I will happily listen.

NILS LEONARD - creative director, Grey London

Imagine a twat with a bad haircut appeared at a conference and told you that he'd created a new technology that conveys emotion across a variety of channels. That his technology can make people cry, laugh or remind them of bits in their life they'd rather forget.

What if he told you that just one minute with this new technology would have the hairs on people's arms standing on end, that it would make poorly written copy become poetry, that it would make the dullest photographed image become an icon for an attitude?

You'd stop, mid-poster design, halfway through the grade of a meerkat cutdown, and start writing work that used this amazing new technology. And the twat would get very rich.

They say the rule is to think about music ASAP after writing an ad. Bullshit. Get an amazing piece of music and write an ad that feels perfect around it.

That's how life works. Sixteen years old, literally an hour after the most "Sofia-Coppola-lens-flare-amazing-teenage-sex" (it is golden light, rather than cheap lamp, in my memory now), my lover told me she had found another. The Smiths playing There Is A Light That Never Goes Out would forever become the song for this terrible, beautiful and perpetually embarrassing moment.

There was also only ever going to be one song for the Samsung Jet spot we just made. The track was cemented by the fact it was what inspired our frenzied cast to run naked through a forest at midnight. It made sense.

Music shouldn't be an executional trick. Use music to start things. Insist your planners bring music to briefings. Pitch with it.

As an experiment, I've picked ten people who work in our beautiful industry and given each of them a track I think best suits them. It's slightly terrifying to try to sum yourself up in music, but it does get you thinking.

Listen, feel and comment at www.grey.co.uk/nils