Favorite Guest Appearance by a Musician on a Record

So, I was listening to Phish’s Hoist today, and on the song “Scent of a Mule” guest Bela Fleck provides some awesome banjo, and I started thinking about other cool guest appearances by musicians on studio recordings. So I thought I’d make a list and invite you all to add your own contributions. For clarity’s sake, I am thinking of instrumental performances, not vocal (which could be a whole thread in itself), and by people who were already established musicians rather than studio musicians. I’m not trying to knock studio musicians, It’s just that they make contributions to other band’s recordings on a regular basis, and I’m trying to get a list of some of the more unusual occurrences in recording history.

Format: Name of guest, instrument played, song title, album title, recording artist.

  1. Eric Clapton, Lead guitar, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” The Beatles, The Beatles. Clapton went uncredited on this, and my dad remembers thinking, before the truth was revealed, that George Harrison had really outdone himself on this track.

  2. Billy Preston, Electric piano, “Get Back,” Let It Be, The Beatles. Preston’s solos on this song transform it from a good Beatles’ tune to one of the best rock songs they ever recorded.

  3. John Popper, harmonica, “What Would You Say”, Under the Table and Dreaming, Dave Matthews Band. Popper’s harmonica sound is as distinctive as anyone’s, and the first time I heard this on the radio, I wondered if he had switched groups. I think his guest shot here is great and really makes the song.

Eddie Van Halen, guitar solo, “Beat It”, Thriller , Michael Jackson. Made MJ cool for rockers, at least on that one song. (“No really, dude, I just bought the 45 for Eddie’s solo”)

Junior Walker, saxophone, “Urgent”, 4, Foreigner. Made corporate rock actually rock, at least for one song.

Pete Buck, guitar, “I Will Dare”, Let It Be , The Replacements.

That was gonna be mine. Good call.

The most famous has to be Sting’s guest appearance on Dire Straits ‘Money for Nothing’.

I have to vote for a singer who comes to mind: Joe Jackson on William Shatner and Ben Folds’ cover of Pulp’s “Common People.” Pretty damn cool, and it introduced me to Jackson’s other work.

And don’t forget that George Harrison repaid the favor by doing the solo on Cream’s “Badge” – IIRC the album credits list “Angelo Mysterioso” on guitar.

Canadians may be familiar with this one. On the last Max Webster album, there’s a track called “Battlescar” that features them playing live in the studio with all three members of Rush. I like that one a lot.

Jerry Garcia plays pedal steel on both CSN&Y’s “Teach Your Children” and Brewer & Shipley’s “One Toke Over The Line”.
Elton John plays piano on Jackson Browne’s “Redneck Friend”.
Jimmy Page plays guitar on Joe Cocker’s “With A Little Help From My Friends”.
James Taylor plays banjo on Neil Young’s “Old Man”.

And sings backup, along with Linda Ronstadt, on “Heart of Gold” (same album).

Ben Folds, piano, “Why Does This Always Happen to Me,” Poodle Hat, “Weird Al” Yankovic.

Eric Clapton on Christine McVie’s “The Challenge” (from her 1984 solo album).

Elton John on John Lennon’s “Whatever Gets You Through the Night”

John Cale, Piano, “Now I Wanna Be Your Dog” Iggy and the Stooges, It’s just one note but it really carries the tone of the song

Flea, bass guitar, “You Outta Know”, Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morrisette. IIRC the Chilli Peppers Guitarist at the time also guested, but I can’t remember which one it was

Tina Turner (uncredited) on Frank Zappa’s Montana, and Rick Wakeman on Cat Stevens’ Morning has Broken (although I’m not sure Wakeman was “established” at that point in his career.

Paul McCarney, banjo, on “I’m the Urban Spaceman” by the Bonzo Dog Band.

John Paul Jones on the Stones’ She’s A Rainbow. Not a great song, but interesting to catch JPJ just barely pre-Zep.

The Stones’ piano player Ian Stewart returned the favor a few years later on Zep’s Boogie With Stu.

I just remembered another one:

Stevie Winwood, Organ, Voodoo Chile, Electric Ladyland, Jimi Hendrix Experience
Stevie and Jimi trading licks throughout this song make it an absolute gem.

Ihsahn, vocals, “Radical Cut”, The Sham Mirrors, Arcturus. Sure, Garm could’ve done it, but Ihsahn totally owned that song.

But Rick was certainly established when he did keyboards on Black Sabbath’s Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, 1973.

I’ll pick an obscure one and a well-known one:

Doug Pinnick (Kings X), backup vocals, “Lines in the Sand”, Falling Into Infinity, Dream Theater. A heavenly moment in an otherwise dreary album.

B.B. King, lead vox & guitar, “When Love Comes to Town”, Rattle and Hum, U2. Ditto. :wink:

Format: Name of guest, instrument played, “song title,” album title, recording artist.

Carlos Santana, guitar (duh), “To Zion,” The Miseducation of, Lauryn Hill

I picked up Ms. Hill’s debut album because there was much buzz about her and I try to keep up even tho’ I am an aging rocker. On the back cover it says "Produced, Written, Arranged and Performed by Lauryn Hill.

I put it on and let it roll, listening to some interesting sound tapestry, some rap, some R&B…and then the intro to track 4 happened and my breathing stopped. Holey Schmoley that’s some good guitar! I grabbed the CD to check the notes–if that’s a 21-year old kid, no matter how talented, I’m going to hang up my strings for good!

Whew! Big sigh of relief. It’s Carlos Santana. I can live with him playing that much better than I do.

Should have added my sig for this one.