From Kraftwerk and Bowie to Taylor and Debbie Harry...
Who doesn’t enjoy the prospect of a juicy musical collaboration? Alas, for every dream collab we do get to hear – David Bowie and Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue, Arctic Monkeys and Josh Homme, Noel Gallagher and Johnny Marr and so on and so forth – there are tons that are touted, then never come to be, for one reason or another. Here’s a few of the greatest collaborations that sadly never happened…
Elvis and David Bowie:
After offering Elvis his ‘Golden Years’ track and being turned down, Bowie recorded the soaring funk-pop anthem on his 1976 album ‘Station To Station’. But that wasn’t the last Ziggy heard of The King. Shortly before his death in 1977 Elvis called Bowie with a request to produce his next album. Sadly he died six months later before anything could be organised.
Nirvana and REM: Kurt Cobain and Michael Stipe were great friends – so much so, Cobain eventually named Stipe Godfather to his daughter Frances Bean. “I constructed a project to try to snap Kurt out of a frame of mind,” Stipe said, after the Nirvana man’s drug habits spiralled in 1993. He sent him a plane ticket, a driver and an invitation to team up, but it was tragically to no avail.
Michael Jackson and Madonna: Do you remember when a Marilyn Monroe-esque Madonna brought Michael Jackson as her date to the 1991 Academy Awards? Well they dated for a little bit after that, papped together at The Ivy in Beverly Hills, among other places. Madge was rumoured to have recorded vocals on Jackson’s new album, ‘Dangerous’, but alas their work together never saw light of day.
Arctic Monkeys and Girls Aloud: “It’s going to be a bit electronic”, uttered a fresh-faced Matt Helders all the way back in 2007, revealing his somewhat unlikely decision to join forces with pop’s biggest caner, Sarah Harding. Nothing ever came to fruition, even though the pair had even booked studio time and everything. Alas, alas.
Jack White and The Libertines: Jack White did more than casually shrug off his connection to the new Libertines LP – he went so far as to “categorically deny it.” Word from the Libs camp had it that Jack White had told Pete Doherty he’d “very much like” to work with them, but White soon clarified that he’d never expressed an interest in doing anything of the sort. Who knows what to believe…
David Bowie and Kraftwerk: Dame Dave was famously obsessed with Kraftwerk throughout the 1970s so it’s hardly a surprise he wanted to record with the seminal German band. Apparently Bowie tried to recruit erstwhile Kraftwerk guitarist, Michael Rother, to play a part in the Low album sessions in 1976, but Rother sadly never got the message.
Damon Albarn and Noel Gallagher: Damon Albarn last year claimed a collaboration with Noel Gallagher was “a distinct possibility at some point in the future.” Were Britpop’s most famous sparring partners, having buried the hatchet, soon to team up for a collab once unthinkable? Don’t be ridiculous. Gallagher quickly took to Reddit to rubbish the suggestion, calling it “a flippant comment.”
Interpol and Peter Hook: When Carlos D announced he was leaving Interpol in 2010, Peter Hook decided that he fancied taking his place. The Manchester indie institution told LA Weekly that he had applied for the bass part over the internet but for reasons unbeknown to us – and him – was rejected.
Kanye West and Miley Cyrus: ‘Black Skinhead’ was allegedly given the Smiley Miley treatment. For some reason, though, the remix never saw the light of day with an official release. Recorded with super-producer, Mike Will Made It, straight after Miley’s VMAs twerking controversy, Williams said it sounded “crazy” – so it’s a crying shame we never got to hear it.
Pharrell and Michael Jackson: Perennial collaborator Pharrell and MJ had struck up something of a friendship in the years before the King Of Pop’s passing. “I did eight songs for him that never made it to him, that ended up on Justin Timberlake’s record,” said the ‘Get Lucky’ singer, who added that Jacko later expressed regret at not taking the songs.
Kanye West and Debbie Harry: Yes, you read right – Blondie vs Yeezy was very nearly a thing back in 2014. It was US Vogue’s Anna Wintour who put Kanye and Harry in touch. Speaking at a Somerset House photo exhibition, Harry said Kanye was “a lovely guy” and apparently they’ve been in talks ever since, but the Blondie singer is still, erm, hanging on the telephone.
The Fall and Wet Wet Wet: One of the 1990s’ wildest rumours is the legend that Wet Wet Wet’s Marti Pellow, lovable Scottish rogue and purveyor of heart-on-your-sleeve acoustic tenderness, once approached Fall frontman Mark E Smith, about teaming up and making some sweet music. You can only imagine Smith’s response.
Amy Winehouse and Questlove: Roots’ drummer Questlove broke down in tears at a recent screening of Amy which he hosted in New York. Questlove and Winehouse were great mates and in frequent contact, plotting over webcam a soul supergroup featuring the late great singer, rapper Mos Def and R&B star Raphael Saadiq before her tragic 2011 death.
Sia and Katy Perry: The pair hit the studio together in 2013 but it amounted to nothing. “She’s also quite dominant, and she’s extremely analytical. I actually quit within the first hour of our first session” Sia said of her aborted collaboration with Perry. It was also later revealed that she turned down the Sia-penned ‘Chandelier’, which went on to become a big hit for the Australian pop star.