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.
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.
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.
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.