5 Rock Songs That Feature Famous Background Singers

Background vocals are usually left to less established artists. Getting someone like John Lennon or Stevie Nicks to add harmony to your track seems easier said than done. Except, they enjoy background work now and then. Find five songs that feature top names (including Lennon and Nicks) as background vocalists below.

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1. “Whatever Gets You Thru The Night” – John Lennon with Elton John

John Lennon tapped Elton John to play the keyboards for his 1974 release, “Whatever Gets You Thru The Night.” Subsequently, it became the former Beatle’s only solo No. 1 hit in the U.S. while he was alive. On top of his keyboard duties, John provided background vocals to the buoyant track. Prior to sharing this track, Lennon was struggling to earn a chart-topper. Clearly, the combination of the two rock heavyweights was enough to push Lennon into hitmaker territory.

2. “You’re So Vain” – Carly Simon with Mick Jagger

Despite Mick Jagger once being in the running for Mr. “You’re So Vein,” he has an uncredited vocal line in the Carly Simon hit. If you listen closely you can hear the Rolling Stones frontman’s iconic wail in the back of the chorus.

3. “Games Without Frontiers” – Peter Gabriel with Kate Bush

Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush–both adept experimentalists–joined forces in 1980 for “Games Without Frontiers.” Bush adds a haunting quality while Gabriel’s low growl grounds the track. On paper, Gabriel and Bush seem like a match made in heaven. In practice, they prove that the theory is true.

4. “Don’t Come Around Here No More” – Tom Petty with Stevie Nicks

Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks are no strangers to collaborating with one another. Perhaps their most undercover collaboration is “Don’t Come Around Here No More.” Nicks’ sirenic vocals can be heard adding a rich harmony to Petty’s throughout the 1985 hit.

5. “Fame” – David Bowie with John Lennon

One of the most famous (no pun intended) examples of a big-name musician adding sneaky background vocals to a track is David Bowie’s “Fame.” Lennon helped Bowie pen this mammoth hit. To add even more interest, he adds a vocal line or two during the chorus.

Photo by NILS MEILVANG/AFP via Getty Images

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