We know all about the famous duets in music but what about the hidden cameos? Bet you didn’t know about all of these…
Before he joined The Yardbirds and then formed Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page was an in-demand jobbing guitarist, whose magic fingers graced a host of now legendary records, including Marianne Faithfull’s ‘As Tears Go By’, Tom Jones’ ‘It’s Not Unusual’ and a couple of those early Kinks classics too.
Alex Turner and Josh Homme formed a mutual appreciation society not so long ago, with the Queens Of The Stone Age man singing on ‘Knee Socks’ from the Arctic Monkeys’ stellar 'AM', and Turner in turn recorded backing vocals on ‘If I Had A Tail’ (listen very carefully at the end and you might just hear him).
It seems incredible to imagine Jimi Hendrix was discovered late by Chas Chandler, died at 27, and still had the remarkable career he did. Jimi also played with the Isley Brothers pre-fame, and recorded guitar on the early 60’s Don Covay hit 'Mercy Mercy'. Though uncredited, that intro is pure Jimi!
Before joining the Libertines, Pete Doherty sang the backing vocals on 'I Don’t Believe In Anything' by Cosmetique from their first album I Was Born In A Disco Fun Pub.
It’s often said that Johnny Depp is a frustrated rock star, but having played slide guitar on Oasis’ ‘Fade In-out’ and appeared on rhythm guitar with Shane MacGowan on Top of the Pops, that kinda makes him a rock star in our book.
They’re not two pop stars you’d instantly pair up, but Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers recorded drums on Jake Bugg’s ‘Broken’ single last year. The connection? Longtime RHCP producer Rick Rubin was drafted in to re-record the song with Bugg.
It’s mostly common knowledge these days, but a lot of people were surprised to learn that 80’s soul legend Luther Vandross started his career as backing singer for David Bowie during his soul period, touring America and beyond, from 1974 onwards.
Damon Albarn has taken on various forms in his long career, not least of all a cartoon singer called 2D, though his first appearance on another artist’s record under a pseudonym was as Dan Abnormal on Elastica’s excellent debut album. Here he is on TOTP in 1995.
Sheryl Crow was also a backing singer, and toured with Michael Jackson for his Bad World Tour. It was a good tour, it was just called Bad.
Sheryl Crow has had her own guest musicians too, and did you know that the Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins played drums on ‘If It Makes You Happy’? Well you do now.
You’ve got the hottest guitarist of his generation on board, and what do you get him to do? Well the Kaiser Chiefs got Graham Coxon to rev his motorbike at the beginning of their song ‘Saturday Night’ from the first LP.
Paul McCartney has probably done more on records than anyone else, but even we were surprised to learn he was drafted in as backing carrot biter on the Beach Boys’ ‘Vegetables’.
The Beatles had already recorded ‘She Loves You’ so it was hardly a stretch to do backing vocals on ‘We Love You’ for their friends the Rolling Stones. Andrew Loog Oldham revealed in his book Stoned that John and Paul used to drop in quite often and wow everyone with their musicality.
To return the favour perhaps, Brian Jones of the Stones played sax on The Beatles’ ‘You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)’, which was released as the b-side to ‘Let It Be’ in 1970.
So impressive was McCartney at masticating his veg, that he was asked to do it again, by the Super Furry Animals in 2001. The legendary Beatle chews celery on 'Receptacle For The Respectable' from Rings Around The World.
It was the worst kept secret in indie rock when it was revealed in 2003 that Jack White was indeed the John S O’Leary credited as backing singer on Electric Six’s song ‘Danger! High Voltage’.
We know Brian Wilson is a big fan of California, though did you know he sang BVs for Belinda Carlisle on her 1996 song ‘California’, a song that mourns the death of River Phoenix?
The Clash became the Lash - with added members from The Blockheads - when they recorded ‘House of the Ju Ju Queen’ in 1983 with cabaret chanteuse and madam, Janie Jones. Jones had not long come out of prison.
Stevie Wonder might be one of the great legends of the 70’s and a great keyboardist to boot, but he has also been in demand for his harmonica skills over the years. The not so little Stevie anymore has played the train on Chaka Khan’s ‘I Feel For You’ and the Eurythmics ‘There Must Be An Angel’.
Dave Grohl gets into hard to reach places, and one of those was playing guitar on David Bowie’s cover of Neil Young’s ‘I’ve Been Waiting For You’ from Heathen. Why? Because Dame Dave called him up and asked him to.
JP Bowersock is the shadowy figure credited as “guru” on the Strokes’ first album Is This It, though what that four letter word entails is ambiguous to say the least. The record producer not only taught Albert Hammond Jr guitar, but may well have had a hand in writing the guitar lines for ‘Barely Legal’ and ‘Take It Or Leave It’.
If you listen very closely to Strangelove’s ‘She’s Everywhere’, you’ll hear Brett Anderson providing backing vocals. The Bristol band toured with Suede and the two became close, with keyboardist Alex Lee even joining Suede for a while in the early noughties.
Michael Jackson provided backing vocals on ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ - no, not the Motley Crue track, the Jay Z one from The Blueprint.
Eddie Van Halen brought his own inimitable rock style to Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ on perhaps the greatest rock/pop crossover guitar solo of all time. At the time he wasn’t allowed to be in the music video so it passed a lot of people by.
Say what you like about Eric Clapton - and plenty of people have - but The Beatles’ ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ wouldn’t sound anywhere as majestic without his guitar playing.