The Rolling Stones have always been fond of bringing other musicians up on stage to jam with them, and on their most recent "50 & Counting" tour they've had a special guest every night. It is always fun when a band bring an unexpected artist up on stage, because it can take a song in a completely different direction. Here we list ten of the best guest appearances with the Rolling Stones, spanning most of their career. Please share your own favorites in the comments section!
Axl Rose & Izzy Stradlin - “Salt of the Earth”
When Axl Rose and Izzy Sradlin were going to join the Rolling Stones on stage in Atlantic City in 1989, they had been asked what song they wanted to do. When they requested “Salt of the Earth” the Stones reportedly had to relearn the song, as it had not been played live before, aside from the version on The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, which is just Mick and Keith singing to a backing track. The contrast of Axl’s high register vocals to that of Mick Jagger’s work really well for the song, and it certainly look like Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood were enjoying playing something out of the ordinary. Being how “Salt of the Earth” has only been performed a handful of times, the performance with Axl and Izzy is quite unique.
Dave Grohl - "Bitch"
The Stones have had many guests on their latest "50 & Counting" tour, but Dave Grohl must have been one of the highlights, especially judging from the audience response when Grohl takes the stage. Mick doesn't even have to introduce the Foo Fighters main man, he is instantly recognizable. Grohl both sings, and play his Gibson Trini Lopez guitar, and even takes a solo. Dave Grohl has an ability to make anything he plays sound like his own, and that happens with "Bitch" as well. The song is much heavier than how the Stones would normally play it, much thanks to Grohl's power chords and wailing guitar solo. Check out a video of the performance:
Jack White - “Loving Cup”
Jack White appeared on stage at the Beacon Theatre in New York City for the taping of Martin Scorsese’s concert film Shine a Light, where he does a duet with Mick on “Loving Cup.” The folksy feel of the Exile on Main Street song, is perfect for White’s post-White Stripes folk-rock sound. White told Rolling Stone about the experience: “...for years at White Stripes shows, we played "Loving Cup" [over the PA] as the crowd was leaving. I just wanted to harmonize with Mick. I didn't necessarily want my own verse. But he said, ‘Take one.’” If you watch the film, you’ll notice the often somber looking White actually has a big smile on his face.
John Mayer - “Champagne and Reefer”
John Mayer has played with the Stones on a couple of occasions, most recently on May 15 this year in Anaheim, CA. Mayer got to play the Muddy Waters classic “Champagne and Reefer.” Aside from playing the guitar, this was one of Mayer’s first live vocal performances since his throat surgery last year. Mayer got to do two solos, which both meshed really well with Ronnie, and Keith’s playing. John really does have a distinct tone, which makes him stand out in a crowd, even when playing with such legends as the Stones.
Muddy Waters - "Mannish Boy"
There are a number of songs that could be chosen from this performance. Mick and the boys dropped in on a Muddy Waters gig at the Checkerboard Lounge in 1981, and ended up joining Muddy on stage. The entire show has been released on both CD and DVD. The 10 minute "Mannish Boy" is one of the highlights, with Waters and Jagger trading vocals back and forth. The Stones look overjoyed to be playing with their hero, and when Buddy Guy steps up on stage, and borrow the mike, Jagger looks almost ecstatic. The song is a great example of how you can do so much with so little - a simple lick that is basically repeated over and over. But it is the subtle nuances in Keith and Ronnie's guitar playing that make the song something special.
Jeff Beck - "I'm going Down"
It took Jeff Beck for the Stones to dust off the Don Nix cover "I'm Going Down." There is a studio version of the band doing it on the Metamorphosis album. The live version from last year with Jeff Beck is about twice as long as the studio recording, with blistering guitar solos from Beck, Wood, and Richards.
Stevie Wonder - "Uptight (Everything’s Alright) / (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
In 1972 the Rolling Stones toured together with Stevie Wonder. While seeing both acts on the same night must have been amazing, it would have been a once in a lifetime opportunity to see Stevie on stage together with the Stones. Do a search on Youtube and you will find an amazing medley of Stevie Wonder's "Uptight (Everything’s Alright)" with the Stones "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." Stevie turns the Stones rocker in to a funky beast fit for Wonder's own repertoire.
Buddy Guy - "Champagne and Reefer"
Yes, this song appear twice on this list, but that doesn't matter since it is two completely different performances. While John Mayer's guest spot on the song has a more modern flavor, the version that blues legend Buddy Guy did with the Stones on their Shine a Light film is a true down-and-dirty blues classic. Guy wails on the microphone, and play his polka-dotted guitar as if it’s all he's ever done.
Mary J. Blige - "Gimme Shelter"
Mary J. Blige is the only singer aside from Rolling Stones backup vocalist Lisa Fischer who has ever come close to do the original vocals by Merry Clayton justice. Obviously the Stones liked Mary J's performance as well, since she was invited to sing with them twice during their anniversary tour last year, first in London on November 25, and then in New York a couple of weeks later. Check out a video of the performance:
The Black Keys - “Who Do You Love”
Charlie Watts got some help when The Black Keys joined the Stones on stage in Newark last year for the Bo Diddley song "Who Do You Love?" A second drum kit was brought out and Keys drummer Pat Carney helped Watts keep the beat. The other half of the Black Keys, Dan Auerbach, joined in on guitar and vocals. The duo has certainly come a long way from their basement days in Akron, Ohio. Is this perhaps the only time the Rolling Stones have had two drummers on stage? Let us know in the comments.