Most “tributes” I’ve seen/heard are quickly tossed off vanity pieces best viewed as novelties, but a few years back at The Kennedy Center Honors Led Zeppelin was being honored by Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart singing “Stairway To Heaven”. I expected something good from those two but neither I nor, I suspect, the audience expected something as astounding as this: Heart - Stairway to Heaven Led Zeppelin - Kennedy Center Honors HD - YouTube
Y’all have any examples of musical tributes that went above and beyond your expectations?
When George Harrison was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, and Prince stole the show from Tom Petty et al. with his blistering guitar solo for “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”:
Clearly you don’t know about the Lovemongers then. This was the Wilson’s side project and largely a Led Zep tribute band. Their cover of Battle Evermore is awesome. I think a lot of Zep and Heart fans were well aware of how great they can be doing Zep songs.
About a year after Harrison died there was a big concert at the Royal Albert Hall called The Concert for George. First half was Indian music, then Monty Python performed (!), then a selection of rock & roll songs with Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and others. It was really, really great.
The final song was “I’ll See You In My Dreams” performed on ukulele. Just wonderful.
At a concert I attended in 2017, the group Young The Giant performed a spectacular cover of Tom Petty’s American Girl in tribute to Petty, who had just passed away days earlier. It was amazing. Wish I had a tape of it!
In early 2019 The Bowie Celebration came through town, and it was one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen. Mike Garson, Bowie’s keyboardist for many years going back to the Spiders from Mars days, led the group that included (deep breath) Earl Slick, Charlie Sexton, Bernard Fowler (longtime Rolling Stones backup singer), Corey Glover (singer from Living Colour), Sass Jordan, Emm Gryner and a bunch of other people I can’t remember thi early in the morning. And of course, as it was in Canada, astronaut Chris Hatfield was on hand to perform “Space Oddity” as he had from the ISS. The night was as magical as a concert can get.
Van Morrison paid tribute to a lot of musicians throughout his career, not only in tribute shows or by covering them, but with some of his self-written regular songs. The two greatest IMHO are “Jackie Wilson Said” and “Domino”, his tribute to Fats.
ETA: and how could I forget one of the greatest tributes of a songwriting peer and friend of Van, Bob Dylan’s “Blind Willie McTell”.