A Brief History Of Coldplay’s Chris Martin’s Brilliant, Bizarre And Bonkers Duets

In Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’, Lady Catherine De Burgh states that “There are few people in England, I suppose, who have more true enjoyment of music than myself.” Replace “music” with “duets” and the sentence could be uttered by no other than Coldplay’s Chris Martin. After a 20-year career, Coldplay have had enough guests up on stage, combined with Martin’s own cameos, to fill an entire concert setlist twice over. The nicest man in rock loves nothing more than sharing the limelight with others, whether they’re industry giants like Kylie Minogue, or his children, Apple and Moses. Here’s the proof:

Who: Gwyneth Paltrow
When: Sometime in 2003
Where: A friend’s wedding
What happened:
On the outer fringes of YouTube exists a shaky recording of a Paltrow and Martin duet at a friend’s wedding. They performed the song ‘Cruisin’’, taken from the Bruce Paltrow directed film Duets (2000). The pair performed the same track in March 2014, less than three weeks before their “conscious uncoupling”, at a benefit for their children’s school.

Who: Richard Ashcroft
When: 2 July 2005
Where: Live 8
What happened:
In 2005, Coldplay performed the Live 8 concert in Hyde Park, and invited The Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft, introduced by Chris Martin as the “best singer in the world”, to join them onstage for ‘Bittersweet Symphony’, “the best song ever written”. The guest slot was such a success that Ashcroft was invited on Coldplay’s 2006 Twisted Logic tour as the band’s support act.

Who: Ricky Gervais
When: 5 October 2006
Where: ‘Extras’, the set of ‘When The Whistle Blows’
What happened:
“It’s only Chris Martin from Coldplay!” Immortal words uttered by the fictional Andy Millman, played by comedian Ricky Gervais. The Martin cameo includes a feeling performance of ‘Fix You’, thwarted by the nasal twang of the curly haired sitcom character. Martin portrayed himself as an egotistical self-promoter, wearing a Coldplay merch tee.

Who: Shane Warne
When: March 2009
Where: Sydney stretch of the Vida La Vida tour
What happened:
A close friend of Chris Martin, the former cricketer Shane Warne joined the band to add some maracas to the track ‘Green Eyes’. Martin announced Warne as “probably the greatest cricket player of all time, probably not the greatest percussionist, but anyway.”

Who: John Farnham
When: 14th March 2009
Where: Sound Relief in Sydney
What happened:
Shane Warne wasn’t Martin’s only guest on the Australian Vida La Vida tour. The Australian pop musician John Farnham triggered an audience-wide clap along for the anthemic classic ‘You’re The Voice’ as the penultimate track of the set. Before exiting the stage, Farnham called the band “an incredible bunch of fellas”.

Who: Simon Pegg
When: 15 April 2011
Where: A London pub
What happened:
At the wake of two of their friends who died within a week of one another, Pegg and Martin performed at The Boogaloo in Highgate, thought to be the inspiration behind The Winchester in the Pegg film Shaun Of The Dead. The pair performed ‘Green Eyes’, with Pegg on harmonica. Just 60 people were in attendance.

One of the attendees, photographer Nick Pickles, said “the evening felt less like a gig and more like a few friends messing around on guitars at a house party.”

Pegg and Martin were also guest co-hosts on Zane Lowe’s show on BBC Radio 1 in 2007.

Who: Rihanna and Jay-Z
When: 9th September 2012
Where: Paralypics closing ceremony, London
What happened:
Arguably one of Coldplay’s most legendary concerts to-date, the Paralympics closing ceremony saw the band perform 15 tracks to an 80,000 strong crowd. They were accompanied by Rihanna, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, who entered the arena on the back of a ship model, and performed their collaborative track ‘Princess of China’ for the crowd. The band was joined by Rihanna again for ‘Run This Town’ and a re-worked ‘Paradise’, together with Jay-Z.

Who: Michael Stipe
When: 12th December 2012
Where: 12-12-12: The Concert For Sandy Relief at Madison Square Gardens
What happened:
In what appears to be a particular talent of Chris Martin’s, the musician convinced the R.E.M frontman to momentarily leave retirement and perform at the benefit concert for those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Martin provided an acoustic guitar backing to Stripe’s rendition of ‘Losing my Religion’. Martin told the crowd, “I tried to get the guy from ‘Gangnam Style’”; he wasn’t available.”

Who: Jay-Z
When: 31 December 2012
Where: The Coldplay ‘Holiday Party’ on New Year’s Eve
What happened:
At the Coldplay ‘Holiday Party’ on New Year’s Eve 2012/2013, the band were joined onstage by Gwyneth Paltrow (then married to Chris Martin), Martin’s daughter Apple, Apple’s friend, and Jay-Z, on the track ‘Lost+’ from the ‘Prospekt’s March EP’. The band played the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn, home of the Brooklyn Nets, the basketball team owned by Jay-Z. Clearly feeling the New Year’s spirit, the rapper spent £250,000 on bar drinks over the course of the evening.

Who: Kylie Minogue
When: 19 June 2014
Where: Enmore Theatre, Sydney
What happened:
Coldplay celebrated a concert in Sydney in style with a guest performance by Kylie Minogue, the most iconic Australian musician of all time. Martin and Minogue dueted on ‘Can’t Get Your Outta My Head’ at their show at the Enmore Theatre in Newtown, before playing the Minogue and Nick Cave track ‘Where The Wild Roses Grow’. After the show, Kylie tweeted Coldplay to say “thank you for the magic”:

And they of course returned the compliment:

Who: U2
When: 1 December 2014
Where: World AIDS Day (RED) Benefit, New York
What happened:
Chris Martin and Bruce Springsteen stepped into Bono’s shoes to perform on his behalf following his bike injury in Central Park. The Coldplay singer wore a T-shirt with the slogan “substitute”.

Who: Garrett Hedlund
When: 15 December 2014
Where: Brunch at the Fig and Olive, LA
What happened:
At a promotional brunch for the Angelina Jolie film ‘Unbroken’, starring Garrett Hedlund, the Coldplay frontman performed ‘Vida La Vida’ and ‘Miracles’, a song he wrote for the movie. He joked with the audience about leaving a “tip jar” at the front, suggesting attendees give “about $5” per song, so they could afford to make a sequel.

He was then joined onstage by Hedlund to perform the seasonal Irving Berlin tune, ‘White Christmas’. After Martin had sung the second verse, Hedlund said that Martin’s rendition “was perfect”.

Who: Beck
When: 8 February 2015
Where: Grammy Awards
What happened:
The pair performed ‘Heart Is A Drum’ from the album ‘Morning Phase’, which won Album of the Year at the awards ceremony that night.

Who: Ed Sheeran
When: 25 September 2015
Where: Gillette Stadium Boston
What happened:
Martin made a guest appearance of his own when he appeared onstage at Ed Sheeran’s show in Boston to duet with the singer on ‘Thinking Out Loud’ and Martin’s own song, ‘Yellow’. Sheeran prefaced the Martin appearance by describing how Coldplay had influenced him over the course of his childhood and career. Sheeran thanked Martin for guesting, calling the performance “epic”:

Baby daddy in a sweet duet with the immensely talented #edsheeran #yellow

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Who: Ariana Grande
When: 26 September 2015
Where: Global Citizens Festival
What happened:
Coldplay shared their stage with the ‘Dangerous Woman’ singer as she performed her track ‘Just a Little Bit of Your Heart’ at the festival curated by Chris Martin. The song, taken from Grande’s second album ‘My Everything’, was written by Harry Styles of One Direction.

Who: Simon Pegg (again)
When: 5 December 2015
Where: The Jonathan Ross Show
What happened:
Chris Martin and Simon Pegg reprised their collaboration with a performance on The Jonathan Ross Show, where Coldplay gave a seasonal rendition of their track ‘Christmas Lights’. Pegg entered the studio halfway through the song wearing an elf costume and carrying a violin, which he pretended to play whilst gazing bromantically at Chris Martin.

Who: James Corden
When: 2nd February 2016
Where: Carpool Karaoke
What happened:
Martin hitched a ride from James Cordon on the way to his Super Bowl halftime show performance in San Francisco. Martin paired up with the comedian and TV show host for some karaoke renditions of ‘Adventure of a Lifetime’, ‘Yellow’, ‘Hymn for the Weekend’, and ‘Viva La Vida’ among others. Corden admitted his admiration for Martin’s live “mid-song talking”, like “is there anybody out there?!” Martin replied that Corden was sweet, but the line was “stolen from Bruce Springsteen”.

Who: Beyoncé and Bruno Mars
When: 7 February 2016
Where: Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show
What happened:
Everyone remembers this as the show where Beyoncé made her fierce live debut of ‘Formation’ (and effortlessly covered up a trip up in said formation), leading some to call the Coldplay set, guested by both Beyonce and Bruno Mars, something like a “warm up” act.


The warm up criticism is CLEARLY unfair. Bruno and his gang of bin-bag clad backup dancers are pretty good, but Coldplay had a stadium full of co-ordinated parasols and a screen built into their stage. Admittedly though, that ‘Formation’/’Uptown Funk’/’Crazy in Love’ mashup was genius. And Chris pops up and joins in for the ending. So there’s that.

Who: Jimmy Fallon
When: 22nd March 2016
Where: The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
What happened:

In a cutaway segment on ‘The Tonight Show’ in March 2016, Chris Martin was depicted “working on” a new track at the piano in one of the studio’s practice rooms. The mini drama saw the piano piece fall seamlessly into a rendition of ‘Life on Mars’ in tribute to the late David Bowie, with the television show host Jimmy Fallon on Bowie-esque vocals. As he walks out of the room, Fallon tells Martin to “keep working on it.”

Who: Barry Gibb
When: 26 June 2016
Where: Glastonbury Festival
What happened:
Closing Glastonbury in June 2016, Coldplay were joined onstage by original Bee Gee Barry Gibb. After performing ‘To Love Somebody’ together, Chris Martin asked the crowd to take part in a ‘Glastonbury Referendum’ deciding whether or not they should perform another song. When the crowd said yes, Martin and Gibb launched into a nostalgic rendition of ‘Stayin’ Alive’, described by Martin as the “greatest song of all time”. Gibb performed in his signature nasal falsetto, whilst Martin provided tenor style harmonies. Gibb announced his first solo album for 32 years two days later.

Who: His kids, Apple and Moses, and their cousins
When: 27th June 2016
Where:Glastonbury Festival
What happened:
In a touching tribute to the late band Viola Beach, Coldplay performed the track ‘Boys That Sing’ in order to send the track “up the charts” and “let them play Glastonbury for a song.” Clad in wellies and hoodies, Chris and Gwyneth’s children, plus two of their cousins, gathered around a microphone to help out the band on backing vocals.

#🍎 #🌊 #glastonbury #coldplay

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Who: Michael Eavis
When: 26 June 2016
Where: Glastonbury Festival
What happened:
After performing ‘Up&Up’ to close the set, Chris Martin introduced Michael Eavis by asking if there was “anyone we can speak to about this not being the last song? Is there anyone we can speak to who’s in charge?” As the Glastonbury organiser appeared, Martin called Eavis the “best singer in the world”. Martin then retreated to the piano to let Eavis perform ‘My Way’ solo. The performance might have been more Sid Vicious than Frank Sinatra.

Who: Prince Harry
When: 28 June 2016
Where: Kensington Palace
What happened:
To raise money for the Prince’s HIV/AIDS charity Sentebale, Coldplay performed a charity concert on the Kensington Palace East Lawn, the first rock concert to take place at the venue. Harry the host came onstage to perform ‘Up&Up’. They were also accompanied by a Lesothan choir. The appearance included an apology by Prince Harry that the statue of Queen Victoria was facing away from the stage, as she is “surely the only person who has ever had their back to Coldplay.” He followed up the apology by stating, “I’m sure she would have been a massive Coldplay fan.”

Who: Lianne La Havas
When: 7 July 2016
Where: Telia Parken, Copenhagen
What happened:
“You may not know but, this is our favourite Prince song,” Martin told the audience before performing ‘Sometimes It Snows In April’ to the Danish crowd. “This is a special thing for me to get to perform with Lianne,” Martin said. The folk singer was a friend of Prince’s who once hosted a press conference for the artist in her front room.

Who: Michael J Fox
When: 17 July 2016
Where: MetLife Stadium, New Jersey
What happened:
At their performance in New Jersey on Monday, Coldplay were joined onstage by Back To The Future star Michael J Fox, following a request by Martin’s son, Moses. Fox and Martin played Back To The Future tracks ‘Earth Angel’ and ‘Johnny B Goode’. Martin called the experience a “dream come true” to perform with such a “wonderful, wonderful man”.


So all in all, not a bad lineup for a band Paul Weller once called “too fucking bland”.