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Bands/Musicians The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever  

Adam Tyler
4.4k votes 634 voters 44.5k 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

1
152 52
The Who is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Popular music, Pop music, Rock music - Opened for Herman's Hermits on July 14, 1967

2
179 73
Ranker Video
Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock - Opened for The Monkees in 1967

3
125 71
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Glam metal, Experimental rock, Shock rock - Opened for Chad & Jeremy in 1970

4
137 85
The Doors is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk - Opened for Simon and Garfunkel in 1967 (Forest Hills, Queens)

5
120 97
Ranker Video
Hip hop music, Pop punk, Alternative hip hop - Opened for Madonna in 1985

6
93 79
Kool & the Gang is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Disco, Dance-pop, Contemporary R&B - Opening for Van Halen in 2012

7
94 80
Bruce Springsteen is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock - Opened for Anne Murray on August 3, 1974 at New York's Schaefer Music Festival in Central Park

8
41 30
Ramones is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
malachi4.4ministries added Punk Rock - Opening act for Toto in Montreal, Canada once upon a time in the mid '70's.

9
105 99
Ranker Video
Hip hop music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music - Opened for AC/DC and the Rolling Stones in 2003 (Toronto)

10
68 61
Ranker Video
Pop music, Rock music, Folk music - Opened for the Doors in the mid-1960s (Portland and Seattle)

11
48 41
Rage Against the Machine is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
StarpunkRoQr added Crossover thrash, Nu metal, Political hip hop - opened up for U2 in 1997

12
42 36
Stevie Ray Vaughan is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Blues-rock, Rock music, Instrumental rock - Opened for the Moody Blues in 1983

13
20 13
Queen is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
PattiRuane added Pop music, Rock music, Heavy metal

14
59 56
The B-52's is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
New Wave, Pop music, Rock music - Opened for The Who in 1982

15
50 47
Hip hop music, Pop music, Rock music - Opened for Missing Persons in 1982

16
27 23
Violent Femmes is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
StarpunkRoQr added Alternative rock, Punk rock, Folk punk - opened up for Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers. No, you're not hallucinating.

17
84 88
Prince is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Hip hop music, Synthpop, New Wave - Opened for The Rolling Stones on October 11, 1981

18
23 19
Bachman–Turner Overdrive is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
StarpunkRoQr added Boogie rock, Rock music, Hard rock - opened for Van Halen ( the 5150 tour, the first "Van Hagar" tour ) in 1986.

19
65 68
Rush is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Progressive metal, Rock music, Heavy metal - Opened for Kiss in 1975

20
31 30
Porter Wagoner is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Gospel music, Country - Opened for The White Stripes in 2007

21
18 15
Grandmaster Flash and the Furi... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Hip hop music, Old-school hip hop, Electro - Opened for The Clash in 1981

22
27 26
Radiohead is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
sangredeargento added Rock music, Electronic music, New Prog - opened for Alanis Morrrisette
 

23
34 35
Albert Brooks is listed (or ranked) 23 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

24
30 32
The Black Eyed Peas is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
PeteBoyle added Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Synthpop - Opened for U2 in 2009

25
15 14
Devo is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Idiom added Synthpunk, New Wave, Synthpop - Opened for Sun Ra in 1975, opened for Arcade Fire in 2014

26
19 19
Grateful Dead is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
AlanPetsche added Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock - Opened for The Who in Oakland, 9/10/75

27
32 35
Kiss is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Glam metal, Rock music, Heavy metal - Opened for Blue Oyster Cult, 1973

28
27 29
The J. Geils Band is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Blues-rock, New Wave, Rock music - Opened for Jethro Tull in 1975

29
8 6
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
12 11
Hatsune Miku is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
TaylorRandallGlover added Opened for Lady Gaga in 2014.

31
17 18
Mr. Big is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
StarpunkRoQr added Glam metal, Rock music, Heavy metal - opened up for Rush in 1990, believe it or not!

32
37 43
The Clash is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Hip hop music, Pop punk, New Wave - Opened for The Who in 1982

33
24 28
The Outlaws is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Dismalhead added Rock music, Country rock, Country - "Opened for Black Sabbath in 1981"

34
14 16
Blues Traveler is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
StarpunkRoQr added 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 solved because everything went smoothly for the Stones. Mick's harmonica playing was without any problems. 

35
13 15
Texas is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
StarpunkRoQr added 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' sound is largely electronic based and Mellencamp mostly is a "heartland"/roots rocker although he does experiment with other styles on occasion. 

36
13 15
Don McLean is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
BarbaraEwart added Folk music, Folk rock -  - folk artist: opened for The James Gang, at Massey Hall, Toronto Ontario, October 31, 1971

37
13 15
Paul Rodríguez is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
StarpunkRoQr added opened for Smoky Robinson in 1987

38
15 18
Ziggy Marley and the Melody Ma... is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
StarpunkRoQr added Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers opened for the B-52s in 1990.

39
15 18
Bad Religion is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Mindweaversd added Pop punk, Crossover thrash, Melodic hardcore - Opened for Blink 182

40
7 8
Sex Pistols is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
mark-makely added Rock music, Anarcho-punk, Punk rock

41
36 46
Bon Jovi is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Glam metal, Blues-rock, Rock music - Opened for Kiss, the Scorpions and ZZ Top in 1984

42
11 14
Special Beat / English Beat is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
StarpunkRoQr added Special Beat / English Beat opened up for Sting in 1991

43
5 7
Miles Davis is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Irene Snyder added Jazz rap, Avant-garde jazz, Jazz-funk

44
6 9
U2 is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
MichelleCastro added Rock music, Alternative rock, Punk rock

45
15 21
Death Grips is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
kuzronk added Alternative hip hop, Experimental hip hop, Industrial hip hop - Opened for Björk in 2013

46
33 45
Creed is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Rock music, Grunge, Heavy metal - Opened for Metallica in 1998

47
2 4
Billy Joel is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Kenneth Kaplan added Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music -

Opened for the Grateful Dead at the Academy of Music in New York in March 1972

48
4 7
Chick Corea is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Irene Snyder added Kozmigroov, Fusion, Avant-garde jazz

49
11 17
Public Enemy is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
StarpunkRoQr added Hip hop music, Political hip hop, Hardcore hip hop

50
24 35
Jane's Addiction is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever
Rock music, Grunge, Heavy metal - Opened for Love and Rockets in December, 1987