It’s the economy, stupid, and summer tours are no exception. But a season packed with perfectly logical, bang-for-the-buck double bills — Nine Inch Nails and Jane’s Addiction, Aerosmith and ZZ Top, Billy Joel and Elton John, for example — got us thinking: What are the most bizarre double bills of all time? Our answers will have you scratching your head until tour season 2010.
The Monkees and Jimi Hendrix
Though the guitarist’s breakthrough came at Monterey Pop in June 1967, Jimi Hendrix was still a relative unknown in the U.S. in the Summer of Love. The Monkees had been hearing about him for months; Mike Nesmith had been introduced to ‘Hey Joe’ by John Lennon. After seven disastrous shows produced by Dick Clark — Nesmith recalled hordes of girls drowning out the feedback with shrieks for Davy Jones (“Foxy” … “Davy!”) — Hendrix skedaddled. Months later he told Melody Maker the Monkees were “dishwater.”
U2 and Kanye West
“One of the few artists who can match U2 in the self-importance category,” as one critic wrote of Kanye West when he opened a string of shows on the world’s biggest band’s ‘Vertigo’ tour in 2005. For both Kanye and Bono, the future is always so bright, they’ve just gotta wear crazy-ass shades.
Toto and the Ramones
When the Ramones broke out of New York, promoters had no idea what to make of them. Punks weren’t playing arenas, so they were paired with hard rock bands of their era — Blue Oyster Cult, Foreigner. According to former tour manager Monte Melnick, Queens’ finest once opened for the slick supersession band Toto in Lake Charles, La. “Luckily the Toto crowd was half asleep anyway, and before they knew it we were off,” he recalled. “They didn’t have the time or energy to boo.”
Vampire Weekend and Clipse
In the summer of 2007, Columbia University played host to one of the strangest double bills in recent memory. The calypso-loving über-preppies (and Columbia graduates) in Vampire Weekend, who sing about boating and Cape Cod, shared the college’s plaza steps with Clipse, the decidedly not preppy rap duo of Malice and Pusha T, who rhyme about selling crack on the streets of Virginia. Still, it was a free show, and nothing glosses over differences like a good bargain.
Kiss and Vince Gill
Back home in Oklahoma City in the mid-’70s, Vince Gill had a high school bluegrass band with his brother called Mountain Smoke. When the scheduled opening act for a visiting arena headliner had to cancel, Mountain Smoke was hired as an emergency backup. “It was just hysterical, seeing a bluegrass band come out and open for Kiss,” the future country star has said. That’s what you might call ‘Oklahoma Borderline.’
Ghostface Killah and Animal Collective
Ghostface Killah may be the most iconoclastic member of the Wu Tang Clan (and that’s only because ODB isn’t around anymore), but that doesn’t begin to explain why he shared a night with noise-rockers Animal Collective for a 2006 “Mystery Concert” at New York University. Most of the rap fans in attendance were simply mystified by three dudes twiddling knobs and yelling into the mic, but then isn’t that what they do at a hip-hop show anyway?
Muddy Waters and Barry Manilow
Paul’s Mall was a venerable Boston jazz club that expanded into rock music in the 1970s. The nightspot played host to such talented upstarts as some guy from Jersey named Bruce, a bearded fellow from San Francisco named Jerry and a mop-maned gent from Jamaica named Bob. But the club’s crowning moment may have been the night in the early ’70s that the blues titan named Muddy shared the stage with a former jingle writer named Barry. Manilow, of course, became the guy who wrote the songs that made the whole world sing — including, presumably, the Father of Chicago Blues.
AC/DC and Justin Timberlake
It took an infectious disease to bring them together, but flying bottles of water nearly drove them apart. AC/DC and Justin Timberlake had nothing in common when they joined the Rolling Stones in a blockbuster 2003 benefit for the city of Toronto, which was struggling with a SARS quarantine. While the ex-‘N Sync-er got bottle throttled when he took the stage in front of 500,000 hard rock fans, that didn’t stop him from cutting a ‘Back in Black’ remix with Nelly.
Herman’s Hermits and the Who
Herman’s Hermits, the purveyors of moldy hat-and-cane ditties such as ‘I’m Henry the Eighth, I Am’ and ‘Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter’ actually started their career playing R&B covers. By 1967, that’s about all they had in common with the Who, the incorrigible band that were already exploding eardrums with their amp-frying “maximum R&B.” Still, the Who recognized a direct route to barely legal American girls when they saw one, and they jumped at the chance to serve as ol’ Herm’s support act.
Maroon 5 and the Hives
Maroon 5/Hives is sorta like the current generation’s Herman’s Hermits/Who matchup, yeah? Adam Levine has been known to sneak a little Phil Collins into live versions of his own material; Pelle Almqvist would probably declare ‘Guerre Nucleaire’ on the elfin pop elder. Yet there he and his two-toned gang were in 2007, schlepping across the U.S. with the slick Angelenos. In fact, the Hives are adventurous sorts who’ve cultivated more than one strange bedfellow: Witness their recent collaboration with Timbaland.
Steve Miller and Miles Davis
Legendary San Francisco promoter Bill Graham routinely matched psychedelic rock bands with soul groups and blues giants. Few mixed bills were as intriguing as those featuring jazz icon Miles Davis, then entering his experimental “electric” period. But when he hired the trumpeter to open some dates for a guitar-wrangling newcomer named Steve Miller in 1970, Miles balked. He began arriving so late Miller was forced to go on first. In his autobiography, the brutally outspoken Davis remembered the ‘Abracadabra’ man as a “sorry-ass cat.”
Anthrax and Public Enemy
“They said this tour would never happen,” hollered Flavor Flav during one of a series of shows Public Enemy and Anthrax embarked upon in 1991. Despite the novelty of the collaboration between the thrash-metal band and the hardcore Black Power rap group on their ‘Bring the Noise’ remake, Anthrax had already established themselves as rap/rock pioneers with ‘I’m the Man,’ originally planned as a joint effort with the Beastie Boys. ‘Noise’ was so successful, the two bands felt obliged to hit the road together. “It was shrapnel,” Chuck D has said. In a good way.
Def Leppard and Bryan Adams
In 2005, Def Leppard and Bryan Adams acts joined forces for the imaginatively titled ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Doubleheader Tour,’ which promised to pour some nostalgia on thirtysomething fans at state fairs and minor-league baseball fields across the land. Although these days the hard-rockin’ Brits may seem like an unlikely match for the decidedly soft-rockin’ Canuck, back in 1984 they both seemed pretty badass … to 11-year-olds.
Snoop Dogg and Linkin Park
In 2004, in an apparent attempt to put the “rap” back in “nü-metal rap-rock,” Linkin Park embarked on their third Projekt Revolution Tour with Korn … and Snoop Dogg. The D-O-Double-G’s laid-back attitude (not to mention his stash of “special medicine”) was probably just the thing to ease the usual soul-crushing angst backstage, saving the guys in Korn thousands of dollars in antidepressants.
Lenny Kravitz and Spiritualized
Spiritualized frontman Jason Pierce famously said he was interested in “taking drugs to make music to take drugs to,” making his drone-heavy space-rock band an odd choice to open some summer 2008 shows for Lenny Kravitz, who’s more about “making love to make music to make love (or sell cars) to.” Still, whether via LSD or sweet, sweet lovemaking, both acts provided audiences with a heavy dose of good vibes.
Bloc Party and Panic! at the Disco
Bloc Party‘s Kele Okereke, the poster boy for self-important indie rockers, seems the last guy who would ever stoop to open for emo punctuation abusers Panic! At the Disco, but in 2006 that’s just what happened. The bands’ reasons were pragmatic: Each hoped to increase its exposure among the other’s fan base. The jury’s still out, but so far indie hipsters haven’t been spotted rocking guyliner, and emo kids haven’t quite embraced day-glo leg warmers.
Grandmaster Flash and the Clash
In the days before the great Aerosmith/Run DMC summit, rock fans weren’t necessarily quick to embrace hip-hop. In 1981, the Clash began a legendary two-week, 17-show residency in Manhattan, and hip-hop pioneers Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five had the “honor” of opening on the first night. Unfortunately, despite the punk legends’ progressive taste in supporting acts, the Clash’s fans weren’t feeling terribly open-minded: Flash and crew were bombarded with trash and booed off the stage.
Ky-Mani Marley and Van Halen
For 2007’s long-awaited (and much-delayed) reunion tour, Van Halen unexpectedly tapped reggae-rap up-and-comer Ky-Mani Marley (one of the few Marley children who hasn’t won a Grammy yet) for the opening spot. Whether it was a ploy by the AARP-ready rockers to seem “with it” or a utopian attempt to expose their denim-clad fans to something new, it seems likely that everyone found some common ground in the sweet-smelling smoke hanging over the crowd.
Kool Keith and the Foo Fighters
In a clear case of the headliners just picking an opener they happen to like, former Ultramagnetic Force MC Kool Keith (aka Dr. Octagon and Dr. Dooom) was asked in 2000 to warm up the crowd for the Foo Fighters, also sharing the bill with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Keith’s hilarious, oddball rhymes aren’t too far in spirit from the Peppers’ goofier funk moments, but some of the rockers in attendance for the Foos might have been a little confused by all the rapping about space travel and robots.
“Weird Al” Yankovic and Missing Persons
In 1982, “Weird Al” Yankovic and his just-formed backing band found themselves opening for ultra-glam New Wavers Missing Persons. Not surprisingly, the hairspray-and-eyeshadow crowd didn’t exactly fall in love with Weird Al’s goofy accordion schtick. As if getting heckled and pelted with debris for 45 minutes wasn’t bad enough, Yankovic was verbally abused in the parking lot after the show … by a 12-year-old.