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© Susannah V. Vergau/dpa/Corbis
“I’ve often said that my heroes played guitars," says Kevin Bacon, "and in a way, it all started at home." The celebrated actor, currently starring in the Fox drama series The Following, who has released seven albums with his real-life sibling and Bacon Brothers partner, Michael, recalls his childhood in Philadelphia, watching Michael and his older sister Hilda performing in a jug band in the family basement.
"Michael played guitar, and my sister played cello, oboe, guitar, banjo, piano – pretty much anything," he remembers. "They sounded great. Seeing them make music in front of me, the fact that they played instruments and were in a band, it really got to me. It seemed really cool."
Another important development in Bacon's musical journey occurred when he was in the sixth grade and befriended a new kid in the neighborhood, Harry. "His family was from a long line of restaurant and club owners," says Bacon, "and they opened a seminal rock club in Philly called The Electric Factory. We were just tiny kids, but we’d go and see these concerts – Janis Joplin and all the great acts. It was incredible. Eventually, they moved into doing arenas and stadiums, so we'd go to every single show at the Spectrum. Seeing all of those bands had a huge impact on me."
These days, when he's not recording or touring with his brother (an award-winning film and TV composer in his own right), Bacon merges music with his regular day job, sometimes compiling playlists as part of his research for internalizing different characters. "When you take on a role, you ask yourself a lot of questions," he explains. "'What’s this guy's favorite food or favorite color? Who were his parents? Does he believe in God?' It’s like writing a biography. And one of those questions is, 'What kind of music does he like?' It's really helpful."
Bacon admits that he can sometimes get carried away: Recently, his wife, actress Kyra Sedgwick, asked him to put together one of his famous playlists for a role that she was preparing for. Of the four hours of music he ultimately assembled, Bacon laughs and says, "It was kind of long."
In compiling a list of the 10 records that changed his life, Bacon reflected on what he misses most about the vinyl experience of his youth – namely, the vinyl experience of his youth. “I love everything about albums," he says. "It was one thing when the records shrunk down to CDs, because at least you still got something to look at. You could hold it in your hands. Now it’s hard to even find digital booklets – they don’t seem to be around. That's kind of sad. Albums have always been pretty special to me.”
Special thanks to Marcos Siega.