Brian Eno (multi-instrumentalist/composer; 1948)
Many artists from rock to world to jazz owe a huge debt to Brain Eno. Brain Eno is mainly known for his collaboration/production work with David Bowie, Talking Heads, U2, James and more recently Coldplay, but he was also an original member of the late 70s rock band, Roxy Music. Eno arguably, single-handedly created the genre "ambient". The term refers to the relaxing almost ethereal nature of the music as it surrounds or envelops you.
Almost 35 years on from his groundbreaking album Discreet Music (Virgin), his fourth studio album at that point, his influence can felt and heard throughout jazz. Discreet Music utilizes his already superior use of electronics as well as classical training to form an album of free flowing texture and beauty.
Just as Miles Davis' experiments during the late 60's and '70s cast a large shadow over every jazz artist since, Eno's theories and techniques have spawned a new generation of artists to push the boundaries before they even step into a studio to record. Artists such as Arve Henriksen (trumpet), E.S.T. (group), Ken Vandermark (saxophone) and Brad Mehldau (piano) all while not completely influenced by Eno have combined aspects of his "Oblique Strategies" into their music.
Discreet Music is one of those records that is considered a cornerstone of modern music today and it's definitely reccommended listening. Below is an interesting interview that will give you insight into Brian Eno and what he means to music and multimedia.