Our 7-Song Selection For Classic Rock Cameos
Aimee Mann, Rush's guest singer for Time Stand Still - Aimee Mann / Youtube
As much as we love our favorite rockers for their groundbreaking vocal work (both main and backing), we can’t just overlook the fact that some of these songs have a special ingredient in them. That’s right, because apart from the main act contributing to vocals, unsung heroes have lent their voices to these tunes but often get forgotten in the long run. Here are some of the best vocal cameos in classic rock history.
Aimee Mann – “Time Stand Still” (Rush)
New Wave prodigy Aimee Mann joins the prog-rock legends in the classic melodious composition, “Time Stand Still”. Mann provides a counterbalance to Geddy Lee’s tinny vocal quality, giving the song warmth as she sings the hook or when she ocassionally harmonizes with the main vocal.
Linda Ronstadt – “Under African Skies” (Paul Simon)
Who could ever get the phenomenal Linda Ronstadt to chip in on their song, as backup?! Well, for someone of Paul Simon’s reputation, it was a fairly easy task, also considering the themes of his Graceland album tasteful for the lady rocker’s liking.
Tom Petty – “Sea Of Heartbreak” (Johnny Cash)
With Johnny Cash gearing for his comeback in the 90’s, producer Rick Rubin had Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers sit in to back Cash up for the new album, Unchained. While Petty and the band only stuck with the playing for the most part, the rebel rocker stepped forward for this track and joined the slicked legend on the vocals.
Claire Torry – “The Great Gig In The Sky” (Pink Floyd)
Claire Torry showed her aptitude in the Pink Floyd classic, “The Great Gig In The Sky”. Rick Wright’s crafted progression provided the wind that fueled the sails of Torry’s ethereal wails, resulting in a haunting yet exquisite sonic experience.
Sandy Denny – “The Battle of Evermore” (Led Zeppelin)
Fairport Convention’s Sandy Denny showed more than her ability to conjure up folk energy when she went toe to toe with Robert Plant for “The Battle Of Evermore”. Denny continues to haunt listeners to this day with her voice immortalized on the classic record.
Sting – “Money For Nothing” (Dire Straits)
Mark Knopfler’s jab at MTV and popular music was very evident with “Money For Nothing”, even getting Police’s Sting on board to rub salt in the wounds even further. Sting’s distinct falsetto rings with the song’s coda, earning him songwriting credits along with it.
Merry Clayton – “Gimme Shelter” (The Rolling Stones)
One of the most iconic vocal cameos ever, Merry Clayton’s contribution to this gritty rocker serves as a reminder of the corrosive atmosphere of the era the song was ushered in. Her voice breaking at some points of the song is pure raw emotion pouring out of her, unhinged and drowning.