Once you’ve hit your rock star beat, you don’t really need any help getting your own sound. While it can be difficult to find that magic hook over and over again, it becomes like second nature after walking around the block a few times. That’s not to say there isn’t at least a little help you can get once in a while.
Working outside of their usual comfort zone, each of these songs has guest characteristics from some of the most legendary rock stars imaginable. Did the songs really need them to be great? On their own, probably not, but not everyone on this list was just a favor for a friend or anything. When you’re in the studio for days and just can’t find the right riff to put together, sometimes it’s best to call in a stranger to keep you on your toes.
You can only play with your friends for so long, and bringing someone else’s point of view can breathe new life into the creative process, working in a very different way to what you would do if you stuck to your usual standards. No matter how lonely these bands thought they were, these songs would be a shadow of their former self if it weren’t for these guests. It wasn’t just a cool collab… it was another life shot.
Given their pedigree in the world of progressive rock, few people would tell you that the Mars Volta really needs more members. If you look through what Omar Rodriguez Lopez can do on his own, bringing him into the world of progressive rock is enough to turn your brain to mush if you’re not careful. They were looking to get a little more epic on Frances the Mute, and that meant bringing in some friends to help us melt our faces.
Running through most of the album, L’Via L’Viaquez feels more like an event than a song, taking the base of the track and stretching it out to nearly 12 minutes and creating atmosphere for the final few minutes. It would be easy enough to assume that the fiery fretwork going on here comes from Omar, but some of it is actually courtesy of John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who was friends with the band at the time. Flea is also the bassist for this song, always giving the song the right push when it needs it before going off the rails with John as Cedric Bixler-Zavala reaches deep in his throat for those insane high notes. .
It wouldn’t even be the last time the Peppers’ world would cross paths here either, as Flea would end up playing bass on the side project Antemasque with Cedric and Omar a few years later. We were already in a kaleidoscope of noise, but hearing those solos feels like John is trying to open your third eye all by himself.