Music

The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever 

Adam Tyler
Updated January 19, 2020 6k votes 921 voters 46.7k views

List Rules Openings bands that are completely different than headliners. Could be in different genres or opposite images.

Some of the strangest opening act bookings no doubt leave music fans scratching their collective heads. Most of the time, an opening act 'gels' well with the headliner. Rock bands, for instance, tend to open for other, more well-known rock bands. Occasionally, though, for some reason, very, very unlikely pairings happen. Who on Earth thought of having Jimi Hendrix open for The Monkees? What crazy, deranged concert promoter decided that having The Afghan Whigs open for Aerosmith was a super good idea? This list includes some of the most bizarre concert billings ever. Be sure to vote for those artists that you think are the most peculiar opening acts of all time, and, if you know of one not listed, by all means, add them! Everyone, it seems, has seen an oddly mismatched concert billing at one time or another.

It's hard to imagine who thought having the Beastie Boys open for Madonna on her 1985 Virgin Tour was an awesome idea. Audiences generally hated it, and critics did too. And while the Beasties went on to great fame and fortune, that tour is probably not one of the highlights of their career. Flash forward to 2012, now, and behold, one of the strangest, most unusual opening act bookings to date: Kool & the Gang will open shows for...Van Halen?! Yep. Apparently, this was David Lee Roth's bright idea. Celebrate good times, come on!

An opening act is supposed to be less popular than the headliner. That's just how it works, right? Wrong. Sometimes, the opening act winds up stealing the show. In 1983, Stevie Ray Vaughan opened for The Moody Blues. And he was, as always, amazing. Headliners want opening acts to warm up the crowd, but not take away from their big show.

The worst, oddest opening act billings resulted in disaster for some. Prince, of all people, was booed continually when he opened for The Rolling Stones in October of 1981. And Terence Trent D'Arby had the unfortunate status of opening act for Bruce Springsteen at New York's Madison Square Garden in June of 1993. Audiences did NOT like the choice: They booed throughout D'Arby's performance, and they also really pissed off The Boss - he cursed at them and then rushed through the show. And poor "Weird Al" Yankovic: He had the misfortune of opening for the new wave band Missing Persons in 1982. He's still somewhat traumatized by the experience, which he says included getting "pelted for 45 minutes" by "anything that wasn't nailed down."

Behold, the list of the most bizarre, strangest opening act bookings in music history. Don't boo, don't throw things -- just vote for your favorites!

list ordered by
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Stevie Ray Vaughan is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
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Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
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Ranker Video
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The Who is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
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The Doors is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Opened for Simon and Garfunkel in 1967 (Forest Hills, Queens)

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Ranker Video
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Kool & the Gang is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
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Ranker Video
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Prince is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
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Rage Against the Machine... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
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Ranker Video
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Ramones is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
malachi4.4ministries added
Opening act for Toto in Montreal, Canada once upon a time in the mid '70's.

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Were The Ramones The Most Dysfunctional Band That Stayed Together? #184 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #97 of 263 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

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"Weird Al" Yan... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
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The B-52's is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
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Bruce Springsteen is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Opened for Anne Murray on August 3, 1974 at New York's Schaefer Music Festival in Central Park

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Rush is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
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Porter Wagoner is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
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Radiohead is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
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Bachman–Turner Overdrive... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
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Violent Femmes is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
StarpunkRoQr added
opened up for Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers. No, you're not hallucinating.

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The Best Violent Femmes Albums of All Time #226 of 360 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #894 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

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Albert Brooks is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
alexgor23 added
Opened for Sly and the Family Stone in 1973 in Tacoma, Washington. He tells a great story about the experience...http://anecdotage.com/index.php?aid=4203

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The Best Albert Brooks Movies #275 of 339 The Funniest People Of All Time #245 of 301 The Greatest Actors Who Have Never Won an Oscar (for Acting)

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The Clash is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
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The J. Geils Band is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
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The Outlaws is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
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Grateful Dead is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever