A friend of mine is a huge Melinda Doolittle fan and wants me to join her to see Melinda and the rest of the Idol contestants in Long Island at the end of the month. I’m not a big fan of the show, but I did see a few episodes and wow, Melinda Doolittle can sing! And that got me to thinking, who else has made it really big as a lead performer but started out as a background singer. I know Martha Reeves sanfg background for a while, but there must be more and even bigger stars. Right?
If she actually has singing talent, what’s she doing on American Idol?
Kirsty MacColl sang backup for a number of bands including the Smiths, Talking Heads, and others, before releasing her own solo albums. Her career was tragically cut short by a reckless boater in Mexico.
Katey Sagal (Peg Bundy on Married With Children, Leela on Futurama) did a bit of backup singing, including a tour with Bette Midler.
Maggie and Terre Roche were tapped to be background singers on Paul Simon’s There Goes Rhymin’ Simon before they started their career as the Roches.
I can’t be sure, but the first Blood Sweat and Tears album* has a backup singer named Melba Moorman, which is suspiciously like Melba Moore, who was doing backup vocals in New York (where the album was recorded) at the time.
*Child is Father to the Man; the group did not have David Clayton-Thomas at the time.
Sheryl Crow began her career as a back-up singer.
Donna Jean Godchaux sang back up for Elvis Presley, Boz Scaggs, and Percey Sledge before she moved to California, married Keith Godchaux, ate a little LSD and told Jerry Garcia (in no uncertain terms) “My husband’s your new keyboard player.”
IIRC, the Beatles first recording was singing background for Rory Storm and the Hurricanes.
Paula Cole sang backup for Peter Gabriel (live only, IIRC) before her solo career took off.
For Michael Jackson.
Also Don Henley, Eric Clapton, and Rod Stewart.
First record was with Tony Sheridan, My Bonnie
Phil Collins did backup vocals in Genesis, and became their lead singer when Peter Gabriel left.
Toni Tennille, of “The Captain and…,” sang backup on Elton John’s song “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me.”
Mick Jagger sang backup on Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain.”
Sting sang backup in Dire Straits’s “Money for Nothing.”
Barry Manilow also did backup for Bette Midler
She’s also listed in the credits of “The Wall”
Thanks for the suggestions. Most of these, though, were not what I was looking for. I’m looking for the Sheryl Crow-type story where someone was an anonymous back-up singer and then made it to stardom, not a star how agreed to sing backup. So, Any more?
I shamelessly bump my own thread before it falls to the nether regions of Page 2. Forgive me, but I’m surprised that the musicologists here aren’t coming up with more. So, any more?