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Bands/Musicians The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever  

Adam Tyler
4.1k votes 587 voters 44.1k 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!

1
144 45
The Who is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
The Who Popular music, Pop music, Rock music - Opened for Herman's Hermits on July 14, 1967

2
172 66
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Jimi Hendrix Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock - Opened for The Monkees in 1967

3
128 78
The Doors is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
The Doors Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk - Opened for Simon and Garfunkel in 1967 (Forest Hills, Queens)

4
102 68
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Alice Cooper Glam metal, Experimental rock, Shock rock - Opened for Chad & Jeremy in 1970

5
118 92
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Beastie Boys Hip hop music, Pop punk, Alternative hip hop - Opened for Madonna in 1985

6
88 74
Kool & the Gang is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Kool & the Gang Disco, Dance-pop, Contemporary R&B - Opening for Van Halen in 2012

7
37 25
Ramones is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
malachi4.4ministries added Ramones Punk Rock - Opening act for Toto in Montreal, Canada once upon a time in the mid '70's.

8
88 77
Bruce Springsteen is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock - Opened for Anne Murray on August 3, 1974 at New York's Schaefer Music Festival in Central Park

9
45 37
Rage Against the Machine is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
StarpunkRoQr added Rage Against the Machine Crossover thrash, Nu metal, Political hip hop - opened up for U2 in 1997

10
18 9
Queen is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
PattiRuane added Queen opened for Mott the Hoople 1974 Pop music, Rock music, Heavy metal

11
57 50
The B-52's is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
The B-52's New Wave, Pop music, Rock music - Opened for The Who in 1982

12
99 95
Ranker Video
Justin Timberlake Hip hop music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music - Opened for AC/DC and the Rolling Stones in 2003 (Toronto)

13
63 59
Ranker Video
Glen Campbell Pop music, Rock music, Folk music - Opened for the Doors in the mid-1960s (Portland and Seattle)

14
39 34
Stevie Ray Vaughan is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Stevie Ray Vaughan Blues-rock, Rock music, Instrumental rock - Opened for the Moody Blues in 1983

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15
47 43
"Weird Al" Yankovic Hip hop music, Pop music, Rock music - Opened for Missing Persons in 1982

16
81 81
Prince is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Prince Hip hop music, Synthpop, New Wave - Opened for The Rolling Stones on October 11, 1981

17
34 30
Albert Brooks is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
alexgor23 added Albert Brooks 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

18
23 18
Violent Femmes is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
StarpunkRoQr added Violent Femmes Alternative rock, Punk rock, Folk punk - opened up for Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers. No, you're not hallucinating.

19
26 22
Radiohead is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
sangredeargento added Radiohead Rock music, Electronic music, New Prog - opened for Alanis Morrrisette  

20
16 11
Grandmaster Flash and the Furi... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five Hip hop music, Old-school hip hop, Electro - Opened for The Clash in 1981

21
15 10
Devo is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Idiom added Devo Synthpunk, New Wave, Synthpop - Opened for Sun Ra in 1975, opened for Arcade Fire in 2014

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22
19 16
Bachman–Turner Overdrive is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
StarpunkRoQr added Bachman–Turner Overdrive Boogie rock, Rock music, Hard rock - opened for Van Halen ( the 5150 tour, the first "Van Hagar" tour ) in 1986.

23
61 65
Rush is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Rush Progressive metal, Rock music, Heavy metal - Opened for Kiss in 1975

24
16 15
Mr. Big is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
StarpunkRoQr added Mr. Big Glam metal, Rock music, Heavy metal - opened up for Rush in 1990, believe it or not!

25
13 12
Paul Rodríguez is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
StarpunkRoQr added Paul Rodríguez opened for Smoky Robinson in 1987

26
7 5
Sex Pistols is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
mark-makely added Sex Pistols Rock music, Anarcho-punk, Punk rock

27
36 40
The Clash is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
The Clash Hip hop music, Pop punk, New Wave - Opened for The Who in 1982

28
26 28
Porter Wagoner is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Porter Wagoner Gospel music, Country - Opened for The White Stripes in 2007

All One Piece Opening Songs, Ranked Best to Worst

29
6 4
U2 Opened for the J. Geils Ban... is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
MichelleCastro added U2 Opened for the J. Geils Band 1982

30
15 15
Ziggy Marley and the Melody Ma... is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
StarpunkRoQr added Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers opened for the B-52s in 1990.

31
15 15
Bad Religion is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Mindweaversd added Bad Religion Pop punk, Crossover thrash, Melodic hardcore - Opened for Blink 182

32
5 3
Miles Davis is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Irene Snyder added Miles Davis opened for The Grateful Dead in 1970 at the Fillmore West Jazz rap, Avant-garde jazz, Jazz-funk

33
28 31
Kiss is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Kiss Glam metal, Rock music, Heavy metal - Opened for Blue Oyster Cult, 1973

34
27 30
The Black Eyed Peas is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
PeteBoyle added The Black Eyed Peas Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Synthpop - Opened for U2 in 2009

35
12 12
Texas is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
StarpunkRoQr added Texas Disco, Pop music, Rhythm and blues - opened up for John Mellencamp. He mentions "seeing Paris, Texas" on his 1985 Scarecrow album. There is a movie titled "Paris, Texas" and the Scottish band Texas supposedly got their name from this. Texas' ...

The 37 Greatest On-Stage Falls of All Time

36
25 28
The J. Geils Band is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
The J. Geils Band Blues-rock, New Wave, Rock music - Opened for Jethro Tull in 1975

37
11 11
Special Beat / English Beat is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
StarpunkRoQr added Special Beat / English Beat opened up for Sting in 1991

38
15 16
Grateful Dead is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
AlanPetsche added Grateful Dead Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock - Opened for The Who in Oakland, 9/10/75

39
4 3
Chick Corea is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Irene Snyder added Chick Corea opened for the Steve Miller Band in 1973 in Columbus, Ohio Kozmigroov, Fusion, Avant-garde jazz

40
12 13
Blues Traveler is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
StarpunkRoQr added Blues Traveler Adult album alternative, Blues-rock, Rock music - opened up for the Rolling Stones. Good playing, John Popper is a mean harmonica player but a soundboard glitch distorted  that instrument's sound to an extreme headache-inducing level. Fortunately, that problem was ...

41
10 11
Don McLean is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
BarbaraEwart added Don McLean Folk music, Folk rock -  - folk artist: opened for The James Gang, at Massey Hall, Toronto Ontario, October 31, 1971

42
34 41
Bon Jovi is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Bon Jovi Glam metal, Blues-rock, Rock music - Opened for Kiss, the Scorpions and ZZ Top in 1984

Breaking The Law: Weird And Wild Stories About Judas Priest

43
1 0
Billy Joel is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Kenneth Kaplan added Billy Joel Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music - Opened for the Grateful Dead at the Academy of Music in New York in March 1972

44
21 25
The Outlaws is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Dismalhead added The Outlaws Rock music, Country rock, Country - "Opened for Black Sabbath in 1981"

45
8 10
Hatsune Miku is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
TaylorRandallGlover added Hatsune Miku Opened for Lady Gaga in 2014.

46
32 41
Creed is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Creed Rock music, Grunge, Heavy metal - Opened for Metallica in 1998

47
11 15
Public Enemy is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
StarpunkRoQr added Public Enemy Hip hop music, Political hip hop, Hardcore hip hop

48
4 6
U2 is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
MichelleCastro added U2 Rock music, Alternative rock, Punk rock

49
14 19
Death Grips is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
kuzronk added Death Grips Alternative hip hop, Experimental hip hop, Industrial hip hop - Opened for Björk in 2013

50
9 13
Gene Loves Jezebel is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
StarpunkRoQr added Gene Loves Jezebel Glam metal, New Wave, Gothic rock - opened up for Billy Idol in 1990