5 Songs Featuring Elton John Guitarist Davey Johnstone by Artists Other than Elton

Here’s wishing a very Happy Birthday to Elton John’s longtime guitarist, Davey Johnstone, who turned 73 on May 6, 2024. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Johnstone first collaborated with John on his 1971 album Madman Across the Water, and officially joined Elton’s backing band the following year.

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Johnstone has lent his musical talents to more than 20 of John’s studio albums. In addition to guitar, he has played mandolin, banjo, sitar, and other instruments on select tracks. He also has served as Elton’s musical director for many years.

[RELATED: Joni Mitchell, Metallica, & More Honor Elton John: Library of Congress Gershwin Prize]

Beyond his work with John, Davey has played on quite a few other noteworthy artists’ recordings. In honor of his birthday, here’s a look at five songs featuring Johnstone by artists other than Elton John:

Alice Cooper – “Clones (We’re All)” (1980)

Johnstone played guitar on Alice Cooper’s 1980 album Flush the Fashion, and also co-wrote six of the record’s 10 tracks. Johnstone contributed to, but did not have a hand in writing, “Clones (We’re All),” which was released as a single and peaked at No. 40 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The New Wave track offered a dark look at a dystopian future where people are forced to conform. The song was written by David Carron, who played in such groups as The Marksmen, The Quarry, Shenandoah, and Gulliver.

Johnstone also had played guitar on Cooper’s previous album, From the Inside (1978), which featured songs co-written by Elton’s longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin.

Stevie Nicks – “After the Glitter Fades” (1981)

Johnstone played acoustic guitar on six of the 10 tracks featured on Stevie Nicks’ 1981 debut solo album, Bella Donna. Among the songs on which Johnstone appears is the ballad “After the Glitter Fades,” which was the fourth and final single released from the chart-topping album.

“After the Glitter Fades” reached No. 32 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Meat Loaf and Cher – “Dead Ringer for Love” (1981)

Meat Loaf followed up his hugely successful 1977 album Bat Out of Hell with Dead Ringer in 1981. Johnstone is featured on guitar throughout the record, including on the single “Dead Ringer for Love.” The campy rock tune featured Meat Loaf duetting with Cher.

“Dead Ringer for Love” wasn’t a hit in the U.S., but it ascended to No. 5 on the U.K. singles chart.

Bob Seger – “Love’s the Last to Know” (1982)

Johnstone made a one-off appearance Bob Seger’s hit 1982 album The Distance. He plays guitar on “Love’s the Last to Know,” a pretty, melancholy, piano-driven ballad.

The Distance also included such hits as “Shame on the Moon” and “Even Now.” It peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200, and went on to be certified platinum for sales of more than 1 million in the U.S.

Rod Stewart – “Leave Virginia Alone” (1995)

Johnstone played guitar and mandolin on Rod Stewart’s rendition of “Leave Virginia Alone,” a song written by Tom Petty. The track was featured on Stewart’s 1995 album A Spanner in the Works.

“Leave Virginia Alone” reached No. 10 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, but was a real smash in Canada, where it topped the singles chart.

Petty initially had intended to release “Leave Virginia Alone” as part of his 1994 solo album Wildflowers, but it didn’t make the cut of the final track list. Petty’s manager then offered the song to Stewart to record.

Petty’s own version was released posthumously in 2020 on the expanded Wildflowers reissue Wildflowers & All the Rest.

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