Few artists are lucky enough to perform tributes to their musical idols. Fewer still are lucky enough to perform with them.
Artists look up to those who came before them for inspiration and guidance, and the opportunity for them to perform with the ones who first inspired them to pursue music is mind-blowing in itself. It’s also testament to music’s ability to cross boundaries — generational, spiritual, social, what have you. From Amy Winehouse and Tony Bennett singing “Body And Soul” to John Mayer playing guitar with Eric Clapton on his 70th birthday, here are heartwarming videos of artists performing with their idols.
Amy Winehouse and Tony Bennett
Amy Winehouse’s final recording was a duet with Tony Bennett called “Body And Soul,” which appeared on Tony’s 2011 Duets II LP. Amy was “very nervous” to perform with Tony, who spoke to Entertainment Weekly that year about the collaboration.
“I said, ’You know, it sounds like you’re influenced by Dinah Washington.’ And all of the sudden, her whole life changed,” Tony told EW. “She said, ’How did you know that Dinah Washington is my goddess?’ She did some Dinah Washington licks, and from that moment on, she just relaxed. And it came out wonderful. She was like, ’Tony understands me, you know?'”
Dave Grohl and Paul McCartney
Dave Grohl told Ryan Seacrest at the 2014 Grammys that he thought Paul McCartney was a “true groundbreaking visionary,” according to Rolling Stone. Dave, Paul, and the surviving members of Nirvana have a song together, “Cut Me Some Slack,” which won Best Rock Song at the Grammys that year. Dave also surprised Macca at a performance in London in late May (video above).
John Lennon and Chuck Berry
Rock ’n’ roll vanguard Chuck Berry influenced all of the Beatles, but especially John Lennon. John is quoted to have said this of his idol: “When I hear rock, good rock, the calibre of Chuck Berry, I just fall apart and I have no other interest in life. The world could be ending if rock ’n’ roll is playing.” When guest hosting The Mike Douglas Show in 1972, he made a special request for musical guest—and a unforgettable music moment was made.
Taylor Swift and Stevie Nicks
Taylor Swift had the honor of performing with Stevie Nicks at the 2010 Grammys. Taylor’s shaky vocals may have invited criticism of her performance, but the event ultimately went down as a milestone for Taylor, who was only 21 at the time.
Beyonce and Tina Turner
Beyonce called Tina Turner her “ultimate icon” after performing “Proud Mary” with her at the 2008 Grammys. The high-energy performance proved both women — especially Tina, who was 68 at the time — to be true queens.
Usher and Stevie Wonder
Usher performed “Higher Ground” with Shakira and idol Stevie Wonder in 2009 at Obama’s We Are One Inauguration. Usher also covered “If It’s Magic” at the 2015 Grammys. He was accompanied by a harpist, and halfway through the performance, Stevie came out on the harmonica to join him.
Sara Bareilles and Carole King
Sara Bareilles and Carole King were side-by-side at the 2014 Grammys when they performed a mashup of “Beautiful” by Carole and “Brave” by Sara. “What a thrill to perform with the woman who has been such an inspiration to me,” Sara said of playing with her musical hero. Sara — who is, in many ways, a young Carole — has undoubtedly taken cues from the legendary pianist and singer-songwriter.
Pearl Jam and Neil Young
Stevie Ray Vaughan and Albert King
Stevie Ray Vaughan got his start by playing Albert King licks to Albert himself, according to Stevie’s brother, Jimmie. Jimmie spoke to the Chicago Tribune in 2011: “When Stevie was 19, we were at (Austin blues club). Antone’s and Albert King was playing. (Club owner Clifford Antone) says to Albert, ’You’ve got to let this kid play because he’s (amazing).’ Now, Albert had heard it all, but he got Stevie up there, and Stevie commenced doing Albert King licks. There was silence at first. Everyone stood there with their mouths open. They couldn’t believe it. But Albert loved it. He put his arm around him, and from then on it was Albert and Stevie.”
SVR and Albert went on to play a concert together in 1983 that would serve as the foundation for their 1999 joint album, In Session.
John Mayer and Eric Clapton
To be admired by the person you admire is one of the most satisfying feelings. This is the case for John Mayer, who is majorly influenced by Eric Clapton. Eric has called John a “master” at guitar, and invited John to play on stage with him to celebrate his 70th birthday in concert. John was apparently nervous to meet his idol for a while, according to the following, which he told Rolling Stone in 2005: “I’m really so thankful that my heroes haven’t snubbed me, because it would have broken my heart. I didn’t want to meet Clapton for a long time because I didn’t want him to not like me.”
Eric Clapton and B.B. King
Eric Clapton called B.B. King “without a doubt one the most important artist the blues has ever produced” in his autobiography. The two first played together in 1967, and went on to perform and record as a duo many times throughout their careers. When B.B. King died earlier this year, Eric made a video in his honor. “[B.B. King] was a beacon for all of us who love this kind of music, and I thank him from the bottom of my heart,” Eric said. “If you’re not familiar with his work, I would encourage you to go out and find an album called B.B. King Live at the Regal, which is where it all really started for me as a young player.”