Top 10 Duets
Through the years, many of our favorite artists have teamed up for duets with other stars of the classic rock world, or even more interestingly, with singers or bands from different genres. When it goes wrong, you get Kenny Rogers and his epic Bee Gees-penned love fest ‘Islands In The Stream,’ but when it goes right, you get a great song that gives you a new perspective on both artists’ work. Here are the Top 10 Duets as presented by Ultimate Classic Rock:
This is a great track that almost wasn’t. Phil Collins was producing and drumming on what would become the ‘Chinese Wall’ album from Earth, Wind & Fire vocalist Philip Bailey. Realizing that there wasn’t a clear cut hit single present, Collins co-wrote ‘Easy Lover’ with album bassist Nathan East and got Genesis sideman Daryl Stuermer to add a fiery guitar solo, too.
‘Walk This Way’
You can probably call this the song that saved Aerosmith‘s career, putting them back in the spotlight at a time when they needed it the most. They were still one album away from a proper career resurrection, but the revolutionary idea to cut a new version of ‘Walk’ with hip-hop stars Run-DMC gave the band some much needed mojo.
‘Leather And Lace’
This song was first written by Stevie Nicks for Waylon Jennings and his wife Jessi Colter, but the couple didn’t use the track on their duets album. Don Henley urged Nicks to finish the song, so Nicks got the go-ahead from Jennings, recruited Henley to be her partner, and history was made. We love this version by Will Ferrell and Dave Grohl as well.
‘Don’t Give Up’
This wise and steady vocal performance from Peter Gabriel, melded with the ethereal voice of Kate Bush, was merely one of many highlights to be found on Gabriel’s career-defining album ‘So.’ You couldn’t miss hearing Gabriel on the radio in 1986, and ‘Don’t Give Up’ provided a nice slow-burning coda for his huge comeback year.
‘State Of Shock’
One of the best duets of the ’80s, the song combines the over-the-top personality of legendary rock frontman Mick Jagger with the charisma of Jackson, pop’s biggest star of the time. This extremely macho track effortlessly tops Jagger and David Bowie‘s version of ‘Dancing in the Street’ from the same time period. Jackson himself knocked out two duets with the great Paul McCartney in the ’80s, but somehow ‘The Girl Is Mine’ just doesn’t pack the same punch that ‘Shock’ did.
It was a happy accident for radio that at the time Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and grunge in general were starting to blow up, there was an additional ace waiting in the hole. Temple of the Dog weren’t formally a band, they were more of a musical collective assembled by Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell as a tribute to his departed friend Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone. The shared vocals by Cornell and Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam made ‘Hunger’ an instant classic.
By the time Bowie laid this one down with the members of Queen, he already had one legendary team-up in the bag, the holiday classic ‘Peace on Earth / Little Drummer Boy’ with crooner Bing Crosby. No “pressure” though, as Bowie and Queen proved there was still lightning in the bottle with this track, easily one of the best duets from the ’80s rock world. Sadly, though, it also later gave Vanilla Ice a career when he sampled its riff for ‘Ice Ice Baby.’
‘Close My Eyes Forever’
‘When Love Comes to Town’
The combination of Bono trading lyrics with B.B. King was such a natural thought, you had to wonder why U2 hadn’t collaborated with King before this. This gets our vote as one of the Top 10 Duets and, overall, ranks highly on our list of favorite songs from the time period. Most importantly, ‘When Love Comes To Town’ introduced a new generation to the genius of B.B. King.
‘Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around’
Without a doubt, ‘Draggin” is the best song that Tom Petty ever gave away. It’s a nice consolation prize for both the musicians and the listener that his group, the Heartbreakers, ended up as the backing band for this emotional vocal tug-of-war between Nicks and Petty. More so than any other pairing, the combination of Petty and Nicks is a winner for fans of rock music.