My influence came from rock. As a younger guy, I listened to things like Black Sabbath and KISS (still do, actually). From there, I got into more "trained" and classically influenced bands like Kansas, Rainbow and Rush. At that time, I began to connect with music on a deeper level and began to understand more of the theory behind the cool tunes. I slowly lost interest in the simpler, more staight-forward rock bands and tended towards the ones that had some obvious understanding of composition. I then started to get heavily into YES, possibly the closest any rock band came to being symphonic. They are heavily influenced by Stravinski and Sibelius, as well as jazz, the Beatles, etc. They wrote true one-movement symphonies, anywhere from 4 to 25 minutes in length. I should really expand on them in another post!
<P>When I started really studying classical music, and I began to hear things in the bands that I liked, like Kansas' use of fugue and Yes' thematic development, it fueled my passion for music of all types. I now have a rather huge CD collection of classical, jazz, pop, rock, folk, african, japanese, etc. All great stuff!<P>A great recent album is the newest Metallica live album, playing with the San Fran Symphony Orchestra. The orchestral parts are original (not just doubling the vocal line or whatever) and the orchestra becomes the 5th instrument of the band. It is absolutley intense. Highly recommended!