Unscripted: Top 10 Actor/Musician Collaborations

Categories: All In

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Johnny Depp and Marilyn Manson have been hanging out a lot lately. The actor joined the antichrist onstage a couple of weeks ago at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards show in L.A., and played guitar on "Sweet Dreams" and "Beautiful People."

Depp also collaborated with Manson on a cover of Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" that'll be included on the shock-rocker's new album, Born Villain. He even seems to have borrowed a few style cues from Marilyn in putting together his Native Amerigoth Tonto costume for the upcoming Lone Ranger film.

Obviously, the two are pals, and it's nice to see a famous actor having fun with his superstar musical buddies without embarrassing himself or his fans. Musicians dabbling in acting is pretty common these days, but it's still fairly rare for actors to pick up a guitar or a microphone.

With the right collaborators, though, actors can become convincing rock stars. Some are even good enough to make it a second career, as long as they surround themselves with talented performers.

Don't believe us? We were prepared for that possibility. That's why we went through the trouble of putting together the following list of our 10 favorite actor/musician collaborations.

10. Eddie Murphy & Rick James: Eddie Murphy was such a big star in 1985 that when he announced he was recording an album of music called How Could It Be, nobody laughed at him. Not until it was released, anyway. That impeccably forgettable effort's highlight by far is "Party All the Time," Murphy's hit single featuring the inimitable Rick James.

Co-written by the Superfreak, "Party" had just the right blend of contemporary '80s pop R&B and astonishing hubris to work. A timeless tale of heartbreak, the song peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Murphy might have been a one-hit wonder, but at least he was still a hit. We're pretty sure Billy Bob Thornton would run somebody over for a hit song.


9. Jeff Bridges & Elton John: Crazy Heart not only netted Jeff Bridges an Oscar, it also kick-started a new recording career. The actor signed a contract with Blue Note Records in 2011 and released an album, Jeff Bridges, the same year.

Before all that, though, Bridges got to jam with a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. In 2010, the actor was performing songs from Crazy Heart alongside T-Bone Burnett and Ryan Bingham at a private showcase at an L.A. supper club owned by music mogul Herb Alpert. The invitation-only crowd, which included Bridges's co-stars Robert Duvall and Maggie Gyllenhaal, was stunned when Sir Elton himself joined the band on piano for a rendition of "I Don't Know" from the Crazy Heart soundtrack. The Rocket Man laid down some bright boogie-woogie licks that make us wish he'd dabbled in honky-tonk a little more often over the years.


8. Steve Martin & Earl Scruggs: Steve Martin's banjo playing is no gag -- he's been practicing the instrument since he was 17, and he's pretty damn good at it. The beloved actor/comedian proved his chops in 2001 when he guested on a new version of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" by the late bluegrass master Earl Scruggs. The recording went on to win the Best Country Instrumental Performance category at the 2002 Grammys.

The collabo with Scruggs was just the start of Martin's bluegrass career, though. In 2009, he released his first all-music album, The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo. It won him another Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album in 2010.



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